Ka has been having nightmares. She’s scared of sleeping alone and she’s been throwing a few well-behaved-good-girl-tantrums for a long time now. “Amma, can I sleep with you tonight?” she says every once in a while. I say, “Ok”. The next day she would ask again. Now, Mr. M throws a big noisy fuss (what can I say, both of Ka’s parents are not as well-behaved as her) about how he got pushed to one edge of the bed and how there’s no space on our bed for 3 people. “Don’t get her in the habit of sleeping with us all the time he says”, he says. ” You are spoiling her! I had a cousin…(blah, blah, blah…)”. This is when I zone out because at this point my childhood flashes before my eyes and I see this little girl, terrified to death and frozen by fear, lying in her bed, staring at the ceiling, too scared to even breathe properly lest the stranger in the room should see her moving. Then he would surely come and get her. Oh! What was that? Why didn’t I just call amma? You are kidding right? Hello! The stranger was going to get me even if I breathed. So imagine what he would have done to me if I called amma. Wouldn’t that make him mad enough to, maybe, ‘mellow’ me? And for some strange reason, when I was a child, ‘mellow’ was the word I chose to mean ‘dead’! So anyway, having had this very scary and painful scene from my childhood flash before me, I decide to stand up to Mr. M. I do what any mother would do. I ask him to find another place to sleep. He can curl up like a cat on Ka’s bed for all I care. But, there’s no way I am going to force my baby doll to sleep on her own when she clearly doesn’t want to. So, out goes Mr. M and in comes Ka. We hug and we both sleep like babies. As it turns out, we have no trouble with the quilt at all. So, now we know who was not only hogging the quilt but also sleeping on it! Quilt-hogging-big-noisy-fusspot!
Another day goes by and there comes the question again. I say yes again. And then comes the question again. Now the trouble is I am stuck in a place between the proverbial rock and the hard place. The mother in me doesn’t want to say no to Ka but at the same time I don’t want to throw out Mr. M on the third consecutive night either. So, I spend a good part of an hour on the horns of the dilemma and then finally decide that Ka cannot sleep with us forever anyway and so, that is definitely not the solution to the problem. So, I tuck her in bed (with a very helpless, heavy and guilt-ridden heart), and sit by her till she falls asleep, and then spend the rest of the night checking on her. This went on for a while and we moved to China. We told her that China is a very special place and there are no monsters here. That trick worked for about 3 days. Then, we all came tumbling back to square one. We tried everything. Thinking about pixies and fairies before going to bed. Thinking about all the things we would do when we visit grandma and grandpa. We even tried reasoning with her by reminding her that there are no monsters and dragons in China. That didn’t quite work out with all the dragons everywhere. I mean, China is full of them. So, she pointed out dragons to us all the time and we lost our credibility. Then, we told her that dragons in China were good dragons because they were believed to be the son of God and they took care of people. Then little Ka pointed out that God doesn’t exist, it’s just a figment of our imagination and not real, so how can there be a son of something that didn’t exist. Very rational! Must be Mr. M’s genes. So, no amount of reasoning would get her mind off the whole thing. We thought and thought and tried and tried. And then, one not so fine night, when Ka and I were snuggling in her bed, (actually, Ka was snuggling and I was trying hard to hold on to whatever I could get my hands on so I wouldn’t fall off) it struck me. Or rather I struck it…the pot of gold. Music. One of the most awesome things human beings ever came up with. All I had to do was rip a few instrumentals onto my laptop and play it all night long. As long as the music played, Ka slept. This solution might seem very obvious to a lot of parents but to us, it was the discovery of a lifetime. Pure genius. And now I am convinced that amma wasn’t lying when she said, “bringing up kids is a tough job!”.