Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Shut up, Sayesha. That's not your daughter!

23rd November was the birthday of someone very very special to me.

There was a time when this person used to bring a lot of joy and laughter to my life. But then I had to let go.

So today, her ex-tutor (moi) and current tutor (CT) took the little girl (LG) to Swensens for a belated birthday treat. CT and I are colleagues, so we left the office together after work. He was in super panic mode.

"You know she has never stepped out into the city on her own? I hope she doesn't get lost. "

"She won't get lost, CT. Her sister is accompanying her to the train station, and we will pick her up there. The sister will stay with her till we reach. And later, her mother will pick her up."

"Yes, but I'm very nervous. It's a big responsibility to take someone's child out, you know. You have to even careful of what you say to them."

And suddenly it struck me how right he was. And how unprepared I was.

Gosh, now I had to think before I spoke to her? Although she and I used to be very informal with each other when I was teaching her, most of our jokes were related to what I taught her. So now, without the books and the desk and the stationary, I had to strike a conversation with her that did not involve chlorophyll and photosynthesis and xylem and arteries!

Now I was going into panic mode.


We met LG at the station. She had grown very tall from when I'd last seen her. And she looked different from the LG I was used to seeing, the one in old pyjamas, with hair all wet (she used to take a bath just before tuition), sitting on the chair in front of me, waiting for us to finish the lesson so she could tumble into bed.

And now, she was all dressed up like a doll!

I opened my mouth to exclaim something jumpy and typical of me, but suddenly remembered CT's words. Gosh, it was very difficult for me to control the way I spoke and my choice of words.

What I almost said: "Whoa LG, you're almost a babe!"
What I actually said: "Hi LG, you look nice. And you've grown taller!"

We chatted on the way to Swensens.

"So it's school holidays now!
You have the whole of December before school starts again, don't you?" I asked.

"Yes!" She grinned happily.

"But I've spoken to her mother. We'll resume tuition for Primary 6 soon. LG, shall we start on Tuesday?" CT said.

I looked aghast. LG looked aghast.

What I almost said: "Are you kidding me?? The poor thing just finished Primary 5. Let her chill for a while, will you?"
What I acually said: "Yes, maybe it's a good idea to start studying for Primary 6 early so you get a headstart. Make use of the holidays. Don't spend all of it playing, okay?"

A voice in my head said, "Bah!"

Then she started telling us about her exam results.


"My Chinese quite good. My Maths and Science also okay. But my English marks not very good leh! I very scared about English in my PSLE (Primary School Leaving Exam) next year! I don't know what to do!" She said.

"Well, first of all, LG, you should stop speaking in Singlish." I said.

"Yeah, Sayesha's right. Start speaking in proper English, LG." said CT. "Anyhow cannot speak like that, you know."

What I almost said: "CT, WHAT THE...??!!"
What I actually said: "Errr... yeah, what he means is that you should avoid speaking in Singlish, okay?"

"Yes, you must top your class in the PSLE next year. Soon you will be in secondary school, then JC and then university! So what do you want to become when you grow up?" CT asked.

"My mother wants me to become a doctor. But I don't want!"


"What do you want then?"

"I don't know! That's the problem. I don't know!"

What I almost said: "Haha! That's hardly a problem, girl. I did not know what I wanted to become even at the age of eighteen. Just chill, you'll figure out sooner or later."

What I actually said: "Hmmm... it's good to have a goal in life. You should think about what you want to be in future."

The voice in my head spoke up again, "Bah!"

We had reached Swensens. The staff seemed incredibly amused to see this very odd trio. I think they concluded that it was an inter-racial family. Though I'm sure they must have wondered why the 'daughter' did not look anything at all like the 'mother'.


After we ordered the main courses, we resumed the conversation. It was mostly us asking her questions.

"So what have you been upto? Are you going on a holiday this year?"

"No plans yet. But I want to go to Genting ." She said.

What I almost said: "Oh Genting! Maybe you'll come back a millionaire! Haha!"
What I actually said: "Oh Genting! Yeah, they have a lot of fun rides, you will enjoy yourself."

After dinner, it was time for dessert. LG simply loves ice-cream.

"So what ice-cream do you want?" I asked her.

"Oh, let's order the Earthquake for her!" CT exclaimed.

I was aghast. The Earthquake is a giant 8-scoop ice-cream.


"No no, I don't think I can finish it." She said.

"Of course you can! You're young, you can eat all you like, you can't get fat."

What I almost said: "What nonsense! Of course she can get fat!"
What I actually said: "CT, don't force her now. LG, why don't you order what you think you can finish?"

It was just so different. I had to think so much before I said anything.
And that person making those 'heat & eat' idealistic statements, was so not me! Aaarghhh! At many points during the evening, I felt like such a hypocrite. But I reminded myself again and again, "Shut up, Sayesha. That's not your daughter!"

And I couldn't help but wonder -- a mere change of settings can change so much.


I never thought LG could look different from how I remembered her.

I never thought I'd have to think and rephrase my thoughts before I spoke to her.


I never thought I'd run out of things to say to her.

I never thought I'd have to be an adult when talking to her.



45 comments:

PuNeEt said...

am first

Will come back on this

cheers

Sahil said...

hahaha that's really funny! poor u sayesha, having to actually think and say things properly to LG. I think you should have just said what's on your mind, don't need to be all proper la.

Formal Sayesha no good.

jade said...

thats was a nice post!
its a coincidence that u wrote this post a day before my first experience as a tutor!
i am a bit nervous, because its their exams day after. n i have no teaching experience . one is in the 2nd grade n the other in 3rd.
wish me luck!

Dreamcatcher said...

I guess it turns out to be a little tough when you are thinking of everything you are saying to an impressionable child and that you have to be serious because you her tutor..
REally funny.

Rays Of Sun said...

Well, hota hai..but maybe if she hadnt looked so tall, you would have talked like you did, previously!
You were mentally thinking "She has grown tall, she is in 6th standard" How you reacted was probably the way you perceived her as. One reason being, you weren't her teacher anymore, so you probably did not think "beyond books" then, and now there is this"babe"sitting in front of her..
Anyhow, you werent being a hypocrite, you were being an "Adult", talking to a "child"..
BTW, are yet CT, LG acronyms USA ke states lagte hain..confuse hota hai, next time se koi imaginary naam de na, plz:)

Aethyr said...

i never thought the way u said..u made me concious i talk to my kids..tution kids ie like i talk to my friends..the only difference is i dont use slangs with them kids. hmm...next i better be concious..
---
and about ur essay, i dont have it. i mean as in hard or soft copy..i wrote it just like that. so i m afraid i cant give it. but i ll ask my ma'am if she can give it to me..

Kroopa Shah (Kr00pz) said...

Maybe the little girl was confused/surprised by your behaviour as well since she wasn't expecting it?

Archana said...

Hmm, I think you should have just been your normal self... a tutor is not a substitute parent. And probably one of the reasons you shared a special bond with your student was because she could treat you as a "friend" even though you are an "adult"!

Thanu said...

This post just got me thinking, when I have kids of my own, I'm gonna be do different, the way I talk, hte way I act.

We will just have to wait and see

-thanu

ritzkini said...

:)
liked the blog title..
"Shut up, Sayesha. That's not your daughter!"
=))
somebody feeling maternal and all...waaw !!
=))

Manish said...

hmmmmm...Well said Sayesha!
fitting title:)

Rohit Talwar said...

it's funny, personal and narrative is fresh.. :)

Harshi said...

Hey Sash, Nice learning about your little child. Read the background posts as well. What a delight na? I was remembering my tutoring days in India. Kids really are FUN :-) The only hard part is when they don't listen :-)

Though I am thinking she wouldn't have thought a thing if you had said what was on your mind?
She might have probably chuckled with you :-)

But yes, I am trying to understand the dynamic in that situation...

ashwin said...

we all need to grow up someday, right? :)

Sayesha said...

#Puneet,
Arre you never came back? :P

#Sahil,
No, I couldn't have said what was on my mind. I don't teach her. I don't wanna put Sayesha-like ideas in her head and leave CT to pick up the pieces.
ps: I agree, formal Sayesha no good. And I'm sure you said that in Singlish on purpose. :)

#Jade,
Good luck! :)

#Dreamcatcher,
Yes, I wasn't sure how what I said would affect her, and I wouldn't be around to steer it in the right direction, so I had to play it safe.

#ROS,
Yeah, considering that my interaction with her is only going to be on a once-in-while basis, I did not want her to go home with half-baked ideas which I would get no chance to explaining.

#Aethyr,
Yeah man... I try not to say "Oh man!" or "What the...?!!" or "Puh-leez!" or "That's nonsense!" when I am around her. You never know what she may pick up! :P
ps: Hey, why don't you just email me the main points of your essay? I am really really curious about what you wrote! :P

#Kroopz,
I wasn't behaving very different, I was just stopping myself from saying things that I normally would when I meet friends over dinner. :)

#Archana,
It's about responsibility actually, I could have said anything I wanted to, but she would have gone home with some ideas in her head which her parents wouldn't agree with, and I'd be responsible for that. Which is why I was extra careful.

#Thanu,
Yeah I was thinking the same. Just have to wait and see. :)

#Ritzkini,
Hahahaha! Thanks! :)

#Manish,
Thanks! :)

#Rohit,
Hey, thanks! :)

#Harshi,
Thanks! :) Yeah, tutoring was amazing fun. It's so enlightening to learn about how a child thinks!

No yaar, I couldn't have said what was on my mind. For example, even the career choice thing, what if she went home and told her mother "Oh Sayesha says I don't have to think about all that now, I will figure out sooner or later!" imagine how shocked her mother would be?? Besides banning me from meeting her ever again! :O

#Ashwin,
Yes I suppose we do... sigh... :)

Bhole said...

I guess we need to be very careful with kids in general. You never know what they are going to take home from a conversation.

Tinku said...

I did most of my education before engineering in a small town in HP where my dad was posted. It was a convent school but teachers did not care a damn about the psychological implications of what they said and how they conducted themselves in front of their students. The subcontinental swear words could be easily heard when they talked to each other and beating up kids was not only considered normal but necessary. Things are different in the metros and ofcourse very different in the more civilized parts of the world.

Tinku

Harshi said...

Haha..:-) Yeah, true, some things could come back & haunt us. Good to think twice in certain things :-)

viv said...

I love the closing one-liners you write. Reminds me of Scrubs and why I like it so much...

Ravi said...

Looks like you had to do a lot of hard brain work. But you possible couldn't have just spoken exactly what you felt inside. This is why I feel that just saying what we feel inside is a dangerous approach.

Jay said...

CT ... who showed foresight in asking LG to "prepare" during holidays ... actually ordered a "earthquake", coz "she can't get fat" ? ;-)

MeAwinner said...

Sayesha !
I see, you must be really feeling diff & odd to behave this way with LG with whom you were so friendly.

Really I can relate it to meeting a friends after years of no-touch time.. suddenly everything looks so formal..."after literally cautious efforts we get back the old-connection"
I think i m going off the way :D you are really a responsible..ex-tutor Good-job..done !
It was really interesting the way you've written..

A voice in my head said, "Bah!"
I really laughed on this...:)
love,
Mani

Sayesha said...

#Bhole,
I couldn't agree more!

#Tinku,
But still you turned out all right! :)

#Harshi,
:)

#Viv,
Hey, long time no see! And thanks! :)

#Ravi,
Hmmm... thoughts for another post...

#Jay,
Yeah precisely!

#Mani,
I wouldn't say it was the time gap that made me behave differently, but more the setting.
ps: Thanks! :)

Raj said...

Very funny. I don't have to worry about such things cos I am more careful about what i say than even the kids' parents.

Mr. Quipster said...

yea...thinking twice before saying anything is generally the safest policy if not the most interesting one. and i must say you are really optimistic bout her figuring out what she wants to do by 18...hell i am 28 and i still havent figured out what i want to do with my life :))...or may be thats just me

Sayesha said...

#Raj,
Thanks! :)

// I am more careful about what i say than even the kids' parents.

Good move! :)

#Mr. Quipster,
//and i must say you are really optimistic bout her figuring out what she wants to do by 18

Hahahaha! Yeah, I think I agree with you. At 25, I still feel clueless about a lot of things in my life! :P

PuNeEt said...

I came back after 24hrs...
;-)

Too cool babezzz
u are a fantastic teacher...
controlling ur instinct at the rt time for the kid ;-)
thats cool

actually kids learn a lot from their teachers so it was necessary... u not saying shez lookin like a babezzz
or WTF or ....

smart one

take care
Cheers

Nandya said...

girl ur funny

Sayesha said...

#Puneet,
Wow, about time man! :)
Thanks! :)

#Nandya,
Thanks! :P

Parth Anand said...

8 scoop icecream...oh man..i could finish that..
now dont almost say What the..poore post mein wohi cheez dikhi...
but actually say that you could finish it too...lol

Sayesha said...

#Parth,
// 8 scoop icecream...oh man..i could finish that..

What I'd have said if you were eleven too: "No beta, zid nahin karte. Zyada khaoge, motey ho jaaoge."

What I'd say now (cos you're NOT eleven): WHAT??? Are you freakin' crazy????? :D

Rays Of Sun said...

Well, I second that too..I can eat 8 scoop icecream too..And wish someone says, Motee ho jaogee:))

virdi said...

//What I almost said: "CT, WHAT THE...??!!"//

you were about to say the F word in front of a primary school kid?? bad bad bad...

Sushmit said...

somehow...at the end of the day, i think you should have been YOU....being all grwon up all the time is a bit boring...but what the heck...that's just me speaking!

Sayesha said...

#ROS,
Let me say it for you:

Ahem.

"ROS, har roz subah uthkar ek 8-scoop ice-cream kha, jaldi hi moti ho jaayegi."

Khush? :P

#Virdi,
I don't say the 'F' word to anyone. I stop after saying 'What the..??!!' I feel that it has more impact this way. In any case, for your kind information, the word missing at the end of my statement is 'hell' and not 'f***'.

Sayesha said...

#Sushmit,

It was me, just a little more "careful-of-what-I-say-in-front-of -someone-else's-impressionable-child' me :)

!xobile said...

She had grown very tall from when I'd last seen her.

Did you look up to her ??

hehe
anyways

life makes us stand at very odd places sometimes... but its all a part of the game :D

Sayesha said...

#Ze Exaggerator,
Arre Randomraj aap? Bahut dinon baad darshan huye! :)

//Did you look up to her ??

Ooh, looks like someone has done his homework, eh? ;)

//but its all a part of the game

Yup! Cheers to that! :)
Sayesha

!xobile said...

:o
RANDOMRAJ!
wow!
koi to jaanta hai mera naam!!!

hehe

bas exam shexam chal rahe hai to thoda slow ho jaata hu
:P

Sayesha said...

#Randomraj,
Sayesha ne bhi apna homework kiya hai! ;)

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