A mighty relief

A mighty relief

When my son put two additional bedrooms in what used to be the loft of their London townhouse – he said it was for the au pair and the guests – I wasn’t too happy. All he did was shrug and tell me, “Dad, the climb will keep you young!” Well, every time I return from a holiday at my son’s in England, I invariably have an anecdote or two, also from the delightful interactions with my grandchildren. This one’s about the time I had to rush down on hearing Daniel scream “Grandpa, grandpa” from somewhere down below!

The involvement of modern day parents in raising children is phenomenal, totally at variance with how the generations before thought were best. Understandably, among the things I have to guard against is my use of words – what I blissfully consider normal, often attracts a stern yell or two invariably. Strictly no foul language, four-letter curse or abusive slang in the presence of little ones. Against this discipline, is also the need to familiarise oneself with terms like wee-wee, willee and also potty; the last uncomfortably reminding me of the Punjabi ladies back home!

I love reading bedtime stories to the ‘baba-log’ despite the handicap of having to think up a new one when a totally ‘not heard before’ is demanded. That’s when I fall back on our own Jatakas and Panchatantra; or even the good old classics from our history. On one such occasion, I told them an anecdote from Akbar’s court.

Akbar once asked Birbal, his court advisor, what was the greatest relief he co-uld have! Birbal’s instant reply came, “A good shit,” and the whole court guffawed in unison! (For obvious reasons, without using the unmentionable word, I made the kids understand it was potty).

However, Akbar felt the joke was on him and ordered Birbal to be locked up. When life in Akbar’s court without Birbal turned dull and dreary, the courtiers together prevailed on the Emperor to forgive him. So eventually, Birbal was released with a severe warning never again to dare make the Emperor the butt of his jokes.

Some days later, after a sumptuous meal, Birbal tricked the Emperor into an empty room and locked him inside. A fuming Akbar called out and yelled, ordering repeatedly to be let out. But no go, Birbal was nowhere. After hours inside, Akbar’s angry yells became whimpers, then desperate entreaties, but no one outside heard him.

When finally Birbal surfaced and opened the door, all Akbar did was to rush to the toilet. When he emerged, everyone heard the Emperor exclaim, “What a relief, what a relief!” And there was Birbal dancing a jig, and reminding his Emperor, “I told you so, I told you so!” The magnanimous Akbar forgave his clever minister and made Birbal his best friend again!

Now back to the point of my tumble downstairs to see what made Daniel scream ... Well, I found the cheeky fellow in the toilet sheepishly looking up to me, and telling me, “Grandpa... just wanted to tell you that I had a ‘big relief’!”