Sunday, January 13, 2013

Our Prince Charming

I have a good reason for using that cliche'd title. When I was pregnant with my first child, my maternal grandma, nani, was sure that I was carrying a boy. She had a theory about it- if the husband was the real boss in the family, then the first child will be a boy and if the wife was in control, then a girl. And she seemed pretty sure about my role in my family. Also, all her great-grandchildren were girls and she wanted it balanced.

I had my own reasons for wanting a girl. First, I adored girls and wanted a little girl to take care of, and second, I never for a moment believed I was not the boss in my family. Every time I would meet nani, she would ask "When is the Prince Charming arriving?". I had a standard answer for her "Nani, princess, not prince"!

Atreya was born via C-Section three weeks ahead of schedule because he was in distress. When I was being wheeled out of the OR, I was just coming out of the anesthesia and had no clue if I had a boy or a girl (those were the days!). Suddenly, in my half daze, I heard my nani's high-pitched voice saying "Puja, Prince Charming eshe gaylo". I am not kidding you that my heart sank, I so badly wanted a girl!

This boy, born almost 20 years ago, was commissioned as an Officer in Singapore Armed Forces yesterday after training for a year. This is a 10-month assignment as part of his mandatory National Service. We are not Singaporeans, just Permanent Residents, so the decision of serving about 2 years in the Singapore Armed Forces was fraught with doubts and guilt. Did I do the right thing? Could I have been better prepared with alternatives instead of sending him to NS? Did I just ruin my son's future? In fact, there are people I know who think we are foolish for not choosing to leave Singapore before Atreya turned 16, or giving up his PR status when he was younger. To top it, the training is very hard, pushing Atreya to his physical and mental limits. He suffered almost non-stop for 11 months. That didn't help with my guilt and doubts.

But yesterday, at the commissioning dinner, as I watched this dashing young man make smooth intelligent conversation with a Brigadier General on one side and a Master Sergeant on the other, I realized that my boy has grown into a young man completely worthy of the title that was bestowed on him by his great-grandma even before he was born.

But that's not all. After dinner, he chose to stay back and help his mate complete the last few tasks that were pending. While every other cadet was busy celebrating, Atreya sacrificed family time, or clubbing time, to help a friend in need.

Prince Charming indeed!

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