Kids versus kittens

(I wrote this article in 2005 for Man’s World magazine. It was for a column titled ‘Company of Women’. There was no man in sight then, forget boyfriend, husband or son. I read this now with a strange sense of irony. Poetic justice has been done, I guess)

It has been happening with unfailing regularity. Every year, one or more of my friends gets pregnant and I indulge them. Their baby talk, mother-in-law bitching, mother-bitching, hormonal mood swings, bra sizes going haywire, pothole disasters, tikki cravings, non-existent waists, salwar naadas slipping down, having to wear men’s underwear  (because it doesn’t cut the skin) , swollen feet, and more.

And I go shopping with them, and keep them company at their sonographers, while their bladders are ready to burst. Sometimes, as a token of appreciation, they do reluctantly give away sexy old tops from their wardrobe, which they spend hours sighing at, longing for the time when they can wear them, but knowing they never will be able to.

There’s more on their minds, usually paranoias – paranoia about having to go back to work, rather paranoia about not being to give up double income, paranoia of ayahs throttling pesky baby’s neck, or baby choking on the feeding bottle, paranoia of succumbing to the venerable mother-in-law or the mother for baby care, paranoia of not being able to have uninterrupted sex any more, at least for a couple of years, paranoia that soon, there will be no more friends left, coz they  will obviously be repelled by an overdose of baby talk,  paranoia of not being able to shake a leg at Girl-Power night at Mikanos, paranoia about not being in the bitching circuit (on account of vocabulary suddenly being limited to diapers and Farex consumption.)

Yesterday, my very pregnant friend Parul and I went shopping for what the shopkeepers of Mumbai refer to as “born baby” things. We bought some extremely mundane looking nappies, and baby-tops, a towel or two, a mosquito cover, a quilt, and a baby wrap. The bill was a cool 2500! I nearly died, but the funny thing was, Parul died too, as though she had no clue that babies are really so dear these days.

Contrary to that, look at my feline offspring. First of all, I didn’t have to go through “those nine months” and the incumbent labour that makes me want to kill my husband. Also, when I got Lupooh home, the only item on my baby-shopping list was a litter basket, which cost me a princely sum of Rs.60.  Other expenses were as follows. One time doctor’s fees for vaccines- Rs 800. Sterilization – Rs. 500. Cat food – Rs. 300 p m. The best part is,  I can still party like a swinger, not having to leave the Cinderella shoe behind when the clock strikes 12. I don’t have to worry about where he plays, whether he is into guns and swords and other violent things, or worse, computer games. Then there’s this thing about who does he hang out with? what is their vocabulary?  are they a bad influence on him? The worst is dreading the moment he starts using the f… word, spending sleepless nights on that blasted school admission , wondering whether you will actually have to sleep with the trustee or get a letter from the Chief Minister to get him into a school that has no playground, has 10×10 sized classrooms, where teachers are called “Miss” and the principal indulges in a private caning session every day, and who knows, tomorrow the apple of your eye could be summoned.

And then the baby kitty and the 21-year-old plan. I find it amusing that parents save up for their kids so that they get a fat sum when they are 21.  Do they really expect payback after that?  And what about those innumerable birthdays, and peer pressure holidays, what about karate lessons, and swimming, and math and gym?

Think about it. Animal sense pays! For one, he will never pee in your lap, or burp on your new linen blouse, or crap on your bed. He will always be at the door for you, not licking the wall, or pushing a bead up his nose. You never have to worry about how he is doing in class, or when is he going to tell you to shut up because you are too old and will never understand what is on his mind anyway.

Only one small thing. Lupooh can never call me “mamma”. And will last 12 years, at best. But then, unlike my mum, I will never have to worry about him “settling down”.

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