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Parenthood and Some other Things…
by Ravi Lobo

Mar 14, 2011

Prologue: an untold incident from the past

When I was studying engineering, one day, a classmate, climbed the high-wall of the ladies hostel. From there, he climbed up a water pipe to the third floor——to fetch the undergarments of one of the most beautiful ladies of that time. The stories of this incident spread like wild fire; they became more and more colorful as time passed by. When I heard this, I went berserk, pulled my hair out and, banged my head——for not doing this ingenious feat myself.

Later, in a secret auction, held in a remote corner of the boys’ hostel in the wee hours, the coveted possession was sold for an outrageous price.

This was long back. Years have passed. Much water has flowed under the bridges. Governments have fallen. Sometimes, in the evenings, I sit in the easy-chair on the porch, and remunerate the old-event. I wonder, why would someone risk his life to fetch something that had no use for him whatsoever? But if you think about it, it’s not a bizarre incident. Something like this should be expected from all men. Historically, you might have noticed, men have done notoriously foolish things——apparently for no particular gain.

I am a different person, now. Over the period my values have changed. Things that once took my fancy, no more fascinate me. May be I am becoming old before my time. I no more wear an ear-ring, no tattoo, no torn jeans, no piercing, and in the last few years I have skipped Mardi-Gras. Now, mostly I go for formals, prefer ties, avoid jeans, and wear long sleeves to hide needle marks. I am erasing my past, mainly because, now I have a year old daughter. God forbid, years from now, in her teens, she won’t come across a person like me.

The reality: Baby is here.
In my case, parenting was an accident. We planned everything meticulously, nothing worked, and finally when we lost hope, God gave us a baby. Hence, a beautiful surprise. It was opposite in my parents’ case. They opted for family-planning, failed miserably, and I was born. Hence, a terrible nightmare! I was born almost immediately after my parents’ wedding; some skeptics concluded, perhaps I was the reason for their hurried nuptials! This is not true: highly preposterous. Where do people get such ideas? My parents are just regular folks, very religious. They wouldn’t dream such a thing or——wait a minute, now that I think about it——Oh my God! Did I just stumble on a family secret? A secret buried for more than 30 years. The world is going to the dogs! Nowadays, you can’t even trust your parents!

My wife and I took some time to digest the fact that we were parents. After delivery, from the hospital, we went straight home, and placed the baby on the bed. My wife looked at me. I looked at her. We looked at each other. (Did you notice I just used 3 sentences, instead of one, to convey a single fact? I guess, I will always remain an amateur.)

“Oh my God,” I said, “This baby is real. And it is going to stay for times to come.”

Then it hit me that I have become a parent. Some days, I was woken up in the early hours by baby-cries, shouted obscenities at the neighbors, only to realize that it was my baby. Life won’t be same anymore. Many things were going to change: no more movie theatres, no more quiet candle-light dinners, and no more late night parties.

Transitioning to parenthood 

My parents had three children. To me, they always looked composed. They glided through parenting, smoothly. I have one child, and so far, at least 3 times, I have thought of running away from home!

When my wife was pregnant, we begged God——for twins. When we realized, that there won’t be twins, I felt dejected. “God!” I said, “One simple thing I asked you in so many years. But you won’t oblige me.”

Now, after having a baby for a year, I told God, “Thank you God, for not listening to my prayer!” From this I have learned that God’s plans are better than ours——he is a better Project Manager!

Baby taught us many things: Importance of sleep. The value of this simple pleasure——that I had taken for granted——I realized only when I was deprived of it.

Either I or my wife needs to sleep whenever the baby sleeps, because when she wakes up, someone should hold her. She sleeps clutching my hand, tightly. This gives her a comfort feeling; however, I can not sleep, if someone holds my hand. This reverse requirement has cost me many sleepless nights. Life has become baby-centric (In the past it was Mom-centric, wife-centric, and boss-centric. I was never the center of my own life.)

A few weeks ago, I found myself eating food in the wee hours.
“What time is it?” I asked my wife.
“2 in the morning.”
“Which year?”
The room was revolving with a great speed. The fan was stable.
“Which year?” I repeated.
“Does it really matter?”
“It is fine if you don’t know the answer,” I said, “I guess, one is not expected to answer all the questions.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“Does it really matter?”
“What are you saying?”
“Why am I eating at this hour?” I asked.
“…we slept with the baby; she is up now.”
“Baby? What baby?”
I guess I was losing my mind.

In spite of several warnings from friends and dear ones, we used to hold the baby all the time. Now she is used to it, can’t put her down, even for seconds. Right now, I am typing with one hand. In the other hand I have the baby——I have become ambidextrous. I can type with right or left hand depending on where the baby is. I am going to demonstrate this on YouTube soon. You will believe me then.

Before the baby, I had so much free time; I was contemplating on writing a novel. I had a great plot. A young man, frustrated by family and relatives migrates to a distant country. There he meets a girl and marries her. Time flies. But this man has an immense desire to tell his story to the world. He wants to write a book. He is all set, but then the baby arrives and the dream is shattered! Intelligent readers would notice that this is my own story!

I can only write what happens in my life. My luck! (In this regard I am like Maugham.)I cannot write true fiction. I tried though. I wrote a few short stories (I know you haven’t read them); a few kind readers, who read my stories, were traumatized. My stories build-up tension till the end, but once you are there, nothing happens. They just end abruptly. This has caused frustration among many readers. Several readers have warned Daiji to stop publishing my stories, or they will go somewhere else. One person has committed suicide. His last note said: “Though, in my heart, I knew this is a mediocre world, I had some hope. But after reading Mr. Lobo’s short stories…”

Did you notice the abrupt ending? The victim didn’t even bother to complete the sentence! Such is the effect of my stories!

The India trip

Being born in the US, my daughter is a citizen. She can visit about 150 countries without a Visa: except, India! Just my luck.

On the other hand, being an Indian citizen, without a visa I get to visit only one country in the whole word: Nepal. Which is not bad—— Nepal is a beautiful country. If the chaos in Mangalore increases, I might just go to Nepal and settle down there. End of the day, I am more interested in leading a peaceful life than to find out which one of our Gods are stronger! Expecting a peaceful life has become a luxury!

At Mangalore airport, the moment I got off the plane, my phone rang. Only one person could have called me precisely at that time: Mother. All mothers have this instinct about their children. They can sense their child in the vicinity. This is a motherly thing. I can’t really explain it. God being “God”, with his tight schedule, created mothers——to delegate some of his responsibilities.

I was meeting Mom after 2 years; so many emotions; so many stories to tell. My eyes welled up; lips quivered.

“Hello Mom”
“Sir!” said the voice, “ICICI welcomes you to Mangalore.”
Apparently it was my NRI bank. They had some “ingenious” scheme, created having only myself in mind——so kind of them. 
“I just landed,” I said.
“What better time than Now sir? Gandhiji had said——”
“Let’s not drag Gandhiji into this——”

[During the course of my vacation, I got several calls from the same person——for they had created several schemes, keeping only me in mind. My vacation almost got screwed. I am so tempted to mention the name of the person.]

When my mother saw me at the gate, she was surprised.
“I thought you were coming tomorrow.” So much for the motherly instinct!
“Even the bank people have my correct itinerary,” I said.

The dog at the gate started barking. My daughter cried in alarm. She had never seen a barking dog. In America dogs don’t bark. Their mere purpose: aesthetic.

I had not seen the dog before.
“Why do you entertain stranger’s dog on our property?”
“It is not a stray dog.” Mom said.
“It is our dog.”
“Why it is barking at me?”
“It thinks you are a stranger!”

The dog was stupid, because it was barking at me——its owner! Though I said, I am the owner, eventually my younger brother will get everything——he being the favorite. I will get Grandpa’s ancient book-shelf. One time, in a literary fervor, I had announced that the shelf is the most important thing in my life——Mom took that literally.

In Mangalore, I became busier. Sometimes I attended three weddings in a day. And sometimes, the schedule was so tight, I attended one wedding, my wife attended another and the baby third one. Everyone wants to marry in December and wages a life long grudge if you miss the wedding. Thankfully, I didn’t have to visit any friends——all my friends are on FaceBook. I have about 27000 friends. Most of them don’t even know me. Many don’t have a clue, whether I am a man or a woman or an android. They don’t care if I am 16, 46 or 256. But they want to do farming with me. They send Farmville requests. I would rather go to our fields and do some real ground work.

Accidentally, I met my ex-girlfriend at Citi-Center. We carefully avoided the past, and discussed unrelated things: New York Stock Exchange rates, rainfall in Peru, alchemism, and global warming.

“I have made many mistakes in life,” she said, eventually.

I gasped. Time froze. For a moment birds stopped in mid air; everything went black and white——someone mistakenly had turned the color knob to minimum; barking dogs lost their voices; American radars monitoring North Korean borders malfunctioned for a few seconds.

My heart——that ticks 72 times per minute——skipped a few precious beats. Oh! God! Am I going to be another Humbert Humbert? Vronsky? Mellors?

“I have made many mistakes,” she continued, “but rejecting you is the only right thing I did in my life!”

Birds continued their flight; dogs found their voices; color got restored; Heart beat resumed steadily. All is well.

Tips for future parents

Now, whenever we go out with the baby, we take a big bag with baby stuff. The first time when we went to the hospital, we just took the baby. We had just changed the diapers and the hospital was near by, so we decided against taking the extra luggage, for a half hour outing.

In the hospital, there was this big million-dollar ultra-sensitive machine to check the baby weight.
I was about to place the baby on the machine, the nurse said: “No! No! No! Remove her clothes first.”
So I placed the baby, only with the diaper.
“Remove the diaper too”
“This may not be a good idea!” I said.
“Just do it!”
“I have a better solution.”
“What is it?”
“Weigh the baby with the diaper. Then weigh a fresh diaper. Subtract the weights. Take an absolute. The resultant is the point-in-time weight of the baby!”
“Are you an engineer?”
Shocked! “How did you guess?”
“Because you just gave me a perfect solution that is totally useless to me!”
With that she snatched the baby, removed her diapers and placed her on the machine. And the baby did what was forecasted. My point: Never hold a baby without a diaper, especially in public places. Don’t try it, however confident you are.

At this point of my article, I am supposed to give some tips, for future parents. Parenting is great¬¬¬¬——but marry first! (One of these days, I am going to be in deep trouble for my liberal thoughts! You know, how touchy we Mangaloreans are about Culture and Heritage!)

New parents are suckers for tips; they would go to any length to get the tiniest bit of information. The best thing about being a parent is that now you can give advice to future parents.

Remember there are no bad children, only bad parents. (I hope, someone would tell this thing to my parents.) The things you have been postponing to do after the baby, do them now. After the baby you won’t find time.

If you are pregnant right now, you should not read this article. I would highly encourage you to read better literature. You don’t want a child with mediocre literary taste. When pregnant, eat to your heart’s content; people will think the extra weight is because of the baby. With higher buoyancy, this is the right time to learn swimming. Watch movies, read books, take prenatals, no weight lifting, avoid flights, avoid seafood, exercise, walk, sleep, paint your tummy, talk to the baby, no smoking, no alcohol, no caffeine, and no sex——oops! All right, once a week!

There will be people ready to obey orders, exploit them. Once you are in the last trimester, don’t stray far from the hospital. Visit the delivery room in advance, don’t look for it at the last moment. Go for epidural, it’s worth it! Don’t worry about the back pain——it’s a myth.

Like all mammals (including platypus and echidna) nursing is the best thing for newborns! Go for it! No second thoughts! You can count on me on this one. Apparently some of you want to become Models. Nothing wrong with that. Or may be, it is better to be models for your children than to do a ramp walk for strangers! Oh my god! Did I just say something taboo? I have an eerie feeling that I just lost some of my fairer fans. I have dug my grave.

The great expectations

My parents are simple people; Father used to be 10th in the class, Mother stood 15th——there were 15 students in her class! These two seemingly simple folks expected me to be number one in virtually everything!

As a child, I started talking quite late; one could see my lips moving, framing sentences in my mind, before actually uttering them. Einstein had the same problem. My parents misinterpreted these signs. Thought the successor to Einstein was born in their house——nothing is more preposterous! Einstein was working on The Unified Theory at the end of his life, which he could not prove. My parents thought, I would resume his work. Such was their expectation.

I begged them. “Com’on guys, please be practical,” I said, “How can I become a super-achiever when the two of you are just plain?”
Mom said: “Einstein’s parents were not scientists!”
I replied: “Einstein’s children were not scientists either!”
That caused more confusion. 

With all these expectations, I used to manage a second rank in the class. The first rank holder was a divinely gifted genius: A Tendulkar. Where as I was a look alike: A Sehwag. I had some shining but I was nowhere near number one. My mom was immensely sad about my second rank.

She couldn’t have been sadder, had I been the last rank holder in the class. Secretly she coveted a son like the first rank holder. But the Gods had cheated her, and blessed her with a son destined to be number 2 in everything he tried! A second rater! A fake!

All my life, I had been second to someone superior. I am the person whom the photographers push aside, to get a clear picture of someone prominent. Being second is a fate worse than losing. How many people know the second highest mountain in the world? or the second fastest man on the planet? or the second longest river? How many people know Buzz Aldrin? No one remembers a second position.

With these experiences, I don’t have any expectations from my daughter. I hope, she realizes the uselessness of the rat-races early in life. I have either become a mystic or set my goals too low——probably, the latter one.

On retrospection, I feel, I haven’t done that bad. In fact I am doing better than some of the number one people of my student life. On the other hand a few last benchers have become millionaires. Not being number one (in anything!) doesn’t bother me much, now. I guess, some people are chosen only to clap hands. We all have roles to play. Probably this is what Milton meant in his quote: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Epilogue: A Happy man

I was holding my daughter so far; just now I placed her on my desk. I can see her from the corner of my eyes. In a few days she will babble her first words. She is making the efforts. I can see her lips moving, She is formulating the words in her mind. Like me, she is a trifle slow in her responses. Her unruly hair, permanently disheveled, gives her the look of a scientist. Oh! My God! Are these some kinds of signs?

Ravi Lobo - Archives:

Comments on this article
gausiya, uppala , kasaragodFriday, July 01, 2011
hello sir,
i read your story.they just awesome.
actually today i read it first.but it is really amazing that i cannot stop my hands appreciating your story.
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ABDUL RAHEEM S, kinnigoly/mangaloreTuesday, March 22, 2011
Hi friend, nice story, keep writing the good things, good works must go on
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Rakesh Dsouza, Mangalore, DubaiFriday, March 18, 2011
Nice article...
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Mel, MangaloreFriday, March 18, 2011
Liked your article.......
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Melroy, MangaloreThursday, March 17, 2011
"being an Indian citizen, without a visa I get to visit only one country in the whole word: Nepal."

WRONG !!!! Don't underestimate the Indian Passport's power in getting you inside another country.

Indian citizens are granted to visa-upon-arrival in 33 countries and territories, while a further 28 countries and territories are accessible visa-free.

Comment on this message     

clara helen, mangalore, omanThursday, March 17, 2011
What talent God has bestowed upon you! I wish I had 1% of your writing skills! I never miss yr articles and also save them for my daughter to read. God bless you! Write more & more!
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Richard D'souza, Mangalore/CanadaWednesday, March 16, 2011
Under the subtle humor, there are a few life lessons and little gems of wisdom dispersed here and there. People who only look for humor miss the point. They are entertained for the reading time however, they are missing the forest for the trees. Beneath the humor, there is pain (radical changes of Mangalore, apprehensions of a Father) , and there is human spirit beyond any man made sects, that makes his articles a class by themselves.

A brilliant write-up deceptively simple. A fine achievement.
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Robert Lobo, Kinnigoli/MangaloreWednesday, March 16, 2011
"Nowadays you can't even trust your parents" be careful son,one fine day your daughter, your loving daughter may utter the same lines.Anyway your article or whatever it is, is a treat to read,keep up the good work, but keep your parents away from your imaginary tantrums.
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Irene Sequeira, Derebail/KuwaitTuesday, March 15, 2011
Nice & interesting article as usual. I never miss any of your articles as I enjoy reading them. Please keep writing. Good Luck.
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Magdeline, MangaloreTuesday, March 15, 2011
Super cool article... simply hilarious, could relate to most of the stuff.
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francis Lewis, mangaloreTuesday, March 15, 2011
This is first time I am reading your article. Truly a great entertaining article. Diffrent topics were nicely interweaved. Enjoyed reading every word.you have excellent sense of humour. Keep writing.
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Alex Lobo, Mangalore/NEW ZEALANDTuesday, March 15, 2011
Hilarious, nice reading, thax Ravi, made my day.God bless you.
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ashenoy, mangloorTuesday, March 15, 2011
Parenting is an art. No ground rules Ravi. By the way its strange, you are an Indian father for an American daughter. What happened to the paternity law?
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Ram Kumar, Hyderabad/SingaporeTuesday, March 15, 2011
One More very cativating short story,love to read and in literal sense you make me imagine,and it bursts out..ha..ha..ha

I too remembered my early days with my darling daughter,memorable indeed,keep writing,am waiting to see your you tube video of ambidextrous :)
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Ethan, Mangalore/FloridaTuesday, March 15, 2011
Ravi thats excellent, It was as good as reading 'Mad' magazine! Please write more with same humor in the veins !
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Cdr GP Mallya (retd), Kinnigoli/South KoreaTuesday, March 15, 2011
good that finally Ravi too had to go through the mind boggling exercise of being a parent. Parenting is an exercise which tests the patience levels of even the most impatient parent and demands undivided attention. As with other fathers Ravi found to his chagrin..how difficult it is. He has brought out in no uncertain terms the tests and travails he underwent...However, once your children grow up, you realise that you had such a fun bringing them up, grooming them ...and start dreaming of reliving those golden moments all over again. Thanks Ravi for sharing another bemusing experience...and now you will have plenty more..bringing her up...listening to her first words...her first steps...her first school lesson...As readers of Daijiworld...we can eagerly look forwards to your stories...which have a life and soul of their own...
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Adrina, Mangalore / Muscat,OmanTuesday, March 15, 2011
Great Article... I can relate to it as I have a two year old myself.
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John Leslie D'souza, Mangalore/AfganTuesday, March 15, 2011
Usually I will not read whole article but your article made me to read even single words. I really enjoyed it even though I’m not yet married. Waiting for many more articles. Keep writing. .Thank you.
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Laveena , dubai Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Oh lovely article. your article has got all the facts of life where being a parent undergoes all this type of exercise....and enjoys life. keep writing...
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Ivan Frank, MangaloreTuesday, March 15, 2011
A very interesting article. I enjoyed reading it. One comment. This should have come in the beginning of the article and not at the end "If you are pregnant right now, you should not read this article. I would highly encourage you to read better literature."
Comment on this message     

Nisha Lobo, karkala/m'loreTuesday, March 15, 2011
Hi Mr.Lobo,
Ur articles are lovely n sense of humour is mind blowing..
Keep going..
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Raj P, MangaloreTuesday, March 15, 2011
Great article, excellent sense of humour. Everything including "I cannot write true fiction" is ephemeral like being second in student life. Keep the enthralling articles coming !!
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Ravi Lobo, Kinnigoli/WisconsinMonday, March 14, 2011
Dear Joel, Mangalore

The word should be "Ruminate" (not Remunerate).

My mistake! Thank you for pointing out.

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Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney,AustraliaMonday, March 14, 2011
Yes Ravi, you have now finished with your dear Mother, Grand parents, Wife, etc, and now make best use of your daughter`s childhood and adolescent years for your humorous writings, for, once she is growes up, you can`t crack those jokes at her cost- mind you, they grow up pretty quick! By the way, as usual, I enjoyed very much the subject article - you have a great sense of humour! Wish you a happy parenting as well!
Comment on this message     

Cyril Fernandes, MangaloreMonday, March 14, 2011
Ravi Lobo's article on parenthood and others is an interesting one. The article made my day today. Keep writing Ravi.....looking forward for such relaxing and pleasant reading....... One more extra kiss to your Baby....!
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Joel, MangaloreMonday, March 14, 2011
"Remunerate the old-event"

What do you mean by that dear Shakespear?
Comment on this message     

Nagaraj, SurathkalMonday, March 14, 2011
Hey Ravi,
These were really good ones man. Just brought a lot of memories of our school and college life. Finally on the parenthood....really true
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Savitha Rodrigues, Kinnigoly/USAMonday, March 14, 2011
Superb Article ! Enjoyed reading every word !! Waiting for the next one :)
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Joyer, KinnigoliMonday, March 14, 2011
Couldn't stop laughing at some places example : shouting obscenities at neighbors and I am impressed by your audacity to give tips to parents, (beta ek one day match khela aur coach banne nikla).

You have a rare gift to discover humor in every facet of life, don't ever desert your strength.

Looking forward for both , more articles and more babies from you.

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Sidney, Monday, March 14, 2011
Nice! I know about the undergarment story too. You're right, it was a hilarious feat.
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Sam, KinnigoliMonday, March 14, 2011
Another Awesome article. Keep them coming...:)
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Marina Pinto, Bejai/SharjahMonday, March 14, 2011
Superb Article! The Best!
Always looking forwards towards more of Ravi's articles
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Juliet, Mumbai/KuwaitMonday, March 14, 2011
Very nice article...Could literally visualise the scenes while reading...Keep writing!
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Santhosh Saldanha, Kateel/CaribbeanMonday, March 14, 2011
Ravi, You great, very nice article, keep writing,All the best........
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Andrina Pais, Mudarangady/SingaporeMonday, March 14, 2011
Mr.Ravi that was an ultimate article.I could not stop laughing for not even one word written by you.But a realty.It is so real about bieng a parent and different adventours coming along with it.Though we have not yet planned our family yet,but we do have such feelings exaclty what you have gone through.But truly a great entertaining article.Waiting for many more such writings from your end.
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Anita, KinnigoliMonday, March 14, 2011
Good one Ravi. Some nostalgia and some true life moments shared, it is a good combination. Makes the reader want to read more and laugh.
Comment on this message     

navneeth, manglore/jordanMonday, March 14, 2011
superb article!..very humorous, after long time i read some thing which was so funny and witty.. liked the "engineer" part :)..keep up the good work.
Comment on this message     

Sunil Vijay, MangaloreMonday, March 14, 2011
Hi Ravi....Though I read lot of books, articles I never used to comment on any article. This is really the best article. Keep writing. You have a talet. All the best.
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Juliana, Mangalore / DubaiMonday, March 14, 2011
No back pain after administering epidural????? For heavens sake....am living with it from the past 9 years.
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Ganesh, KinnigolyMonday, March 14, 2011
Good one Ravi...
you made me to recall all those sweet memories of becoming parent..
you are too good my friend..
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Reena, Mangalore/KuwaitMonday, March 14, 2011
Superb article
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Rizwan, Kuwait, Kuwait/MangaloreMonday, March 14, 2011
One of the best article I ever read in daijiworld.com.This Story creating pictures on mind while reading.
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Joyline, BangaloreMonday, March 14, 2011
Simply superb !!!
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Naveen Mathias, Kinnigoli / DubaiSunday, March 13, 2011
Hey Ravi,
Nice article...very humourous too..

One small confusion in the first paragraph....What became more and more colorful ? The stories or the undergarments ??

Good luck..
Comment on this message     

Prashanth, MangloreSunday, March 13, 2011
Hi Ravi...super article..it was nice reading..you were jumping like a monkey from one topic to other..but it was really nice to put it togeather..true there is no end to the story..esp for parenthood..as every end is the new begining by itself.. enjoyed reading .. pl keep writing more
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