My father was a short man, shorter than 5 feet. But he had a great voice. No! Not for singing. But he could raise his voice with the minimum of efforts. His voice would roar like thunder. Raising his voice he could send shivers in my brother and me. He had the same effect on all my friends and children of my building. But he was a loving man. He would only scold us when we did wrong. Parent specially called my dad to scold their children when they did wrong. On other occasions he would bring and distribute candies for the children. He had a way with small children or toddlers. Small children use to smile and laugh in his arms. They use to play for hours with him. As I said, my father was a loving man.
I take from my father. Not in the children category but the voice category. I can raise my voice with minimum efforts. My friends always use to take me if they had to play a match. With my pathetic playing habits I was not assured a place on the team. But I could shout and cheer so loudly that it looked that the opposite team never had fans. Their feeble voices would drown in my roars. Even if we lost we would lose in style.
But with respect to handling children, I am completely opposite to my father. I have a voice that roars and I could scare children with just raising my voice and make them run helter-skelter. I was a step ahead of my father. I could scare children just by looking at them. Well! Some people have the face. Sometimes I could use only the eyes. Do you remember Hrithik Roshan in his debut film, How cute he looked? I don’t even look a fraction of that. Remember the demons in the serial Ramayan with big moustache and big horns. I don’t look exactly like them but somewhere close and of course without the big moustache and horns.
Actually I had the opportunity to play one of the demons. The producers could have saved a lot of cost by giving me the role. You see, I didn’t need any makeup. But I was skinny that time. Many offers came after that, prominent were among the Ramsay brothers. Not for the hero or the heroine with skimpy clothes but for main part of the ghost or monster. Sadly my physical appearance in term of being skinny squashed my Dreams of becoming a great movie star. I would have been writing my autobiography “My life with the Ramsay brothers” giving a glimpse into the art of Indian Horror movies. But sadly for me and happily for other less mortals, that didn’t happen.
But I used my talent to scare children. They really thought I was kind of bogeyman or something. Actually I didn’t have to make any efforts nor did I have any intention to scare young innocent children. I just had to stand in front of them and look at them in their eyes. I could see fear in their eyes. What to do? Some people are born with it. They would start crying the moment I look at them. And in fact I didn’t have to look menacing at all. I just had to be me.
When my next door neighbor and my childhood friend came to her parents house with her 1 year old daughter, I challenged I could make her daughter cry. That day I established a record of 1 minute flat. My bet, her daughter didn’t see anything horrible like me in her small wonderful life. Again I didn’t have any intention to scare her. Another of my neighbor’s grandchild was so afraid of me that he would run as fast as he could when he approached our house. He is a budding professional runner now. It was kind of good because many parents used to teach good manners to their children using my name. A kind of Sholay situation “Bete so ja nahi toh gabbar aa jayega”
Scarring children with my looks and voice helped me in a way because I was afraid to handle them. They are so tiny and delicate and vulnerable that I am scarred from them. The first time I held a small child, I was kind of 15 years old. Normally if a child came into my vicinity, I would just give it a look and shrugging my shoulder walk off. Nothing to do with delicate things. That is the reason I did not become a surgeon including one more fact that I was not intelligent enough to be one. I was paranoid holding small children for the belief that I may not be able to take care of them and might end up hurting them. So it was easier scarring them then baby-sit them. It is like in the movie “Fools Rush in” Mathew Perry is asked to hold a baby and especially the baby’s head he asks back “Why, does it come off?”
A few days back, my friend Ali asked me to move some furniture in his house. Ali is a colleague of mine and is in Amsterdam with his wife and one year old daughter, Zia. As a good friend, I helped him about. After moving all the heavy furniture we were seating when his cute one and a half feet tall daughter came and sat next to me. I looked at her. She looked at me. I waited to see the normal reaction and expected to see her walking away crying to her mother or father. That didn’t happen. She just sat there. She pointed to the glass of water I had in my hand speaking in a total foreign language invented by her in her 1 year of existence on planet Earth. I brought the glass close to her lips and she drank it. For the first time, I understood perfectly what a child had said. For the next hour or so we both played and talked to each other. I suddenly realized how good I was in handling children.
After few days, me, Aman and the Indian family I stay with, were invited for dinner at Ali’s house. Children have short memories or so I thought. I didn’t expect to repeat my charming self again. But to my surprise, Zia sat with me choosing from over 7 other individuals. We talked; she in her newly invented vocabulary and me with my Hindi and English. When we sat for dinner, she chooses to share my plate. She wanted to try eating with spoon the same way I was eating. Children like to imitate, as if you didn’t know. She even offered to feed me lifting the rice with the spoon and inverting it when it almost reached my mouth. She completely understood when I divided the plate into two parts; the smaller hers and the bigger part belonged to me. How selfish! By the end of the meal, we together had made a complete mess of sitting area. I have not forgotten my manners, but I guess I was overwhelmed for the reason of having dinner with a lady on only the second meeting with her. That never happened to me before. Twice her mother tried to take her away so that I can eat peacefully and twice she came back. She did not want to waste the opportunity of eating with a perfect gentleman like me. If only ladies 28 times her age would understand what a perfect gentleman I am and fall to my charm, then life would be good.
Coming back from the house, everybody appreciated the way I was handling Zia. I, on the other hand was visibly shaken. Was I losing my scaring capability or gaining irresistible charm? Only time will tell or let me rephrase it. Only children will tell