Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wake up Call

For the other side of this story read this post

The Suprabhaatam plays as I beat time on the keyboard. Mornings have always eluded me. Quite literally. Whenever I wake up it's already gone away. Being of a decidedly nocturnal bent, the morning hour boded no Skylark-like happiness in my groggy eyes. The mater, on the other hand was of the annoying ilk of 'morning people'. Of course in her case 'morning' began sometime before the sun had even begun to contemplate scratching his shiny ass and shuffling across the sky, relieving the moon of his shift. Noises at 3 in the morning fail to alarm since the psyche has been inured to maternal shuffles in the said hour. Perhaps it is a lonesome time, or a time of great mental activity because we morning dozers were always assaulted by different kinds of wake-up artillery besides the usual "WAKE UP!". My mother is, was and always will be a highly resourceful, very creative individual. As a result we could never know what ploy she would use to get us out of bed.

One of her favorites- especially when we were little- was the 'April Mayile' approach. Following the inaugural 'wake up' (which by the way would definitely retrieve you from la-la land in the first decibel) she would then proceed to sing the jaunty song while accompanying it with appropriate prods in highly ticklish terrains. Pretty soon we'd be convulsed in giggles and awake. Of course this method began to yield less success as flesh became less sensitive and mentalities more stubborn. From that crisis was born the Mumble Mode. She would snuggle in with us and then begin mumbling wake up words in a continuous monotone that penetrated our sleep-hardened skulls like water cracking limestone. A tad time-consuming but definitely effective. Of course it did backfire once in a while when the calibration of the monotone slips from alarm-clock to lullaby. In which case a few minutes later our half-conscious psyches will register the waker's slipping hold on wakefulness and snuggle back into the blankets assured of a few extra winks.Unfortunately, this could not save us for long. The new and improved version of the Mumble Mode morphed into a singularly successful step: The Cold Toes Syndrome. No comfortably warm human body can fail to jerk awake at the introduction of icy cold toes anywhere near it's epidermis. One foot in the blanket and we were wide and unhappily awake.

But then we are hardy folk. A little cold was very little obstacle to the overriding need to sleep. Once again, the mater rose to the occasion. A true artist never surrenders. In a move that would change the universe of wakers and wakees forever, she creates the Question Gamble. The key to this gambit is insouciance. Step one: potter about the vicinity of the sleeper to ensure they emerge from REM sleep to only mostly asleep. Then begin a one sided conversation. And this is where it gets tricky. The seasoned veteran of the sleep wars knows that the sleeper is a slippery prey. so the conversation should not be so boring that they snuggle back in for the savoured morning sleep. At the same time, it cannot be so blatantly interesting that they know what you are doing and dig their sleeping heels into the mattress. Subtlety. Wit. And patience. Lots of patience. As soon as you discern that the sleeper's psyche is peeking out of it's drowsy cocoon, drop in a question designed to appeal to the prey, something they know for sure. "Who was the actor in that movie we were watching the other day?" or  "Do you remember what the title of that book was?" Drop a few wrong but close answers, shrug your shoulders and then (this is where the timing is crucial) walk away. They may fight it all they want but the sleeper will be betrayed by their brain and by curiosity. If they know they must answer, and to answer they must come to you. If they don't, they will be tormented by the question such that their sleep is essentially ruined. Genuis. Pure genius.

Of course all these approaches are reserved for situations where time and interest allow for such indulgences. The most commonly used technique was the 'Yell and Tell'. The name says it all. However my mother, being of an exceptionally creative bent added her own twist to this simple method. Rather than wasting her time coming all the way to the bedroom or thereabouts, she chooses to be comfortable wherever she is and yell her summons. True there is nothing remotely fresh about this, but wait- observe the master. Much like the brain-fever bird, the maters cry is characterised by a continuous ascending note. But this note is tinged with menace and a pleading tone not unlike a cry for help. The urgency of the call grows with each passing repetition and regardless of the fact that logic knows better, your innate need to protect your mother comes to the forefront. Not for nothing is this personalised approach called the "Cry Wolf Version". Sure she's pulled this on you so many shameful times that it's a disgrace that you keep taking the bait, but you are driven by the possibility that she actually is in trouble. Suppose she were in danger and desperately needed you- and you were sleeping like dead dog while your mother was being harmed. How could you live with yourself! Oh the horror! As the notes get higher and higher and increasingly desperate your imagination begins to replay every terrible scenario that it can churn out and before you know it your feet hit the ground in a dead run. You follow the keening cries with speed that would put P.T.Usha to shame only to skid to a breathless, heaving halt in front of a unrepentantly grinning mother who nonchalantly offers you coffee while you stand there like a fool. @#$*!

But then again I shouldn't really be complaining. After all even the Gods have it bad. The Angelus is rung at the wee hours of the day, when I'm sure God would have just decided to take a break. And the Suprabhaatam hums its way across the horizon beating into poor Venkatesa's ear with it's repetitive nag. True both of these are beautiful to listen to and they are full of love. And they are sung with so much fondness that there is no way that the wakee can hold a grudge against the waker. And moreover these are markers of faith that remind the Gods that they are actually wanted in this world and...

Wait a minute...

I guess that's why I'm writing about alarming wake up calls and annoying "morning-sickness". The truth is we all want someone to be there to wake us up, to welcome us into a brand new day and to remind us we aren't alone. And now that we are all grown up there is no one to treat us like little gods. The Suprabhaatam plays in the background as I type this and I remember again the unrepentant grin on my mother's face. I guess you don't have to be a morning person to think fondly of them: both mornings and persons . :)