SHUT the fffff….front door!”
The thin fused me corrects myself in the nick of time. After all, I have a six-year-old right in front of me. They are blotting papers, more so, when it comes to audio-visual equivalent of the Apple of Eden.
“Take a deep breath.” I echo the advice of the wife, herself with her own formidable arsenal of adrenaline and expletives, but with a difference that she can fight a war of attrition like General Ike while I am General Patton—blowing steam at the wrong time, at the wrong place, at the wrong people, with the wrong choice of words and most damagingly, while using the wrong points of references. The wife wins the battle and most certainly the war. I lose both.
Anyway, the six-year-old utters the dreaded four-letter word soon after. Where she learned it from, or where she heard it, is a mystery. Mobile device usage is limited to an hour a day and also, with supervision and later, with us parents checking the browser history on the sly. Unless of course, she's a step ahead, knowing there's a way to clear history since “the beginning of time”.
But I am the usual suspect. And the boss (wife) reprimands me to take the six-year-old into task. This is not only a sentence and a summary execution, but also a sadistic pleasure to see the attempt of a good cop, aka me, in his desperate attempt to being a bad cop, which, to her (the wife's) chagrin and disgust, is always her, when it comes to dealing with the kids. For a guy, no matter how macho or alpha male or a Leo he is, when it comes to his daughter, he is a chicken with his 5 feet 10 inches and 200 lbs all wrapped around the little finger of a tiny six-year-old.
Nevertheless, orders must be followed, lest I am guilty of an additional count of insubordination.
“Come here!” I tell the six-year-old sternly and with a forced, raised voice (the only time the voice is reluctant to elevate to a higher pitch).
She comes closer, sheepishly, but more so, in disbelief at a voice that has never turned stern towards her, as far as the “beginning of time”.
“I said you come here! Did you say that word?”
“Yes Baba…I am sorry!”
I grab her…I take her in my arms.
“That's my baby! I'm so proud of you!!”
The kid's going to learn to cuss one day anyway, might as well learn from daddy. At least, it is strong bonding.
But of course, I over compensate with other deeds that don't befit my DNA. I DO adhere to the wife's advice of choosing what to be angry about. As we fume over every irritating aspect of life (and trust me, there is no shortage in this country), we eat away on the pie chart that is our emotion. They add up, till all 360 degrees of the otherwise fresh circle that we start off with in the morning, are fully consumed. We are left with none—which could've been used to play with our kids, to chat with our loved ones, to close our eyes to while listening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. And we have just so many colourful ways to express our colourful words and thoughts, while reacting to those we don't even know, thanks to the internet, social media, interaction…just to name a few.
No wonder the beating heart gets such a beating. As if deep fried junk food, formalin, pollution, lack of exercise, unnecessary stress even from an unknown jerk's ridiculous Facebook post (there you go, my pulse just jumped from using the unnecessary adjective “ridiculous”) is not enough.
Anger management expert Alamsur Rahman tells me that he told someone to increase the salary of that person's driver from BDT 20,000 per month to BDT 100,000 per month. After all, the latter has so much control over his boss's emotions.
So true. My friend's wife, a Harvard PhD psychologist, once told me: “You can't control how one acts, but you surely can control how YOU react.” Then a Berkley MBA tells me with a grin: “Fight with those with whom your make-up sessions are worth looking forward to…” It so happens, she is my wife.
But I have been surprisingly and, well ok, relatively calm ever since Harvard and Berkeley joined forces. The cacophony of my kids is so much more soothing now, the traffic of Dhaka is something I look at as a time to catch up on my phone calls or even take power naps, the muck ups of every “best in class” service provider in town is something I chill over as part of the package…
Why let things stress your arteries. Is it really worth it? We owe it to ourselves to know how to react. We owe it to others. Who knows what stress we caused you AB, aka, Ayub Bachchu. But we lost you only too soon—your heart stopped too early, the same heart that got millions to pound to your magic strumming of six strings. Who will now play the blues with you throwing us into the blues? There was so much to be done, to be heard, to be seen, to be composed, to be sung, to be loved, to be jammed, to be toured, to be released, to be hummed, to be strummed...
R.I.P….no, wait, that doesn't suit you. J.I.P.—Jam In Peace, my friend. Sock, no wait, rock it up to the heavens…
Naveed Mahbub is an engineer at Ford & Qualcomm USA and CEO of IBM & Nokia Siemens Networks Bangladesh turned comedian (by choice), the host of ATN Bangla's The Naveed Mahbub Show and the founder of Naveed's Comedy Club.