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Paternal instincts
Is this the right time to have a child?

November 5, 2001
The Iranian

I fell of a horse the other night. Well, it wasn't really a horse. It was my bed. I thought Iwas on a horse. I was actually dozing off on my bed when I lost my balance. Even though I was lying flat on my back at the time, I managed to leap 12 inches vertically off the bed. I sat up in the dark to find Varinder sitting bolt upright next to me trying to figureout why she was sitting up. I whispered to her to go back to sleep. She laid back and reached out to lay her arm across my chest. I kissed her forehead. She fell asleep again.

The time was around 3:00 am. I had been trying to get myself to sleep since midnight but my demons had come en-mass to visit me. They were uninvited, gate crashers. They entered my mind and left unfinished thoughts that I would have to visit one by one and put to rest. Some took longer than others, but it felt like I was playing that arcade game where you have to hammer the moles as they pop out of their holes. They just kept popping up endlessly, one thought compounding the previous thought so that I couldn't resolve it without creating yet another thought to help disentangle the first thought...

By 3:00 am I was finally half way to the place in my mind where I sleep. My eyes were shut and I was slipping, for the second time that night, into deep sleep. The only problem was that to get to this place in my mind where I sleep deeply, I had to ride a horse. I can ride horses in real life too but for some reason I fell off it and woke myself up.

So there I was, once again, staring at the shadows that the street lights create on our bedroom ceiling. Gently, I eased Varinder's arm off my chest and rolled out of bed. I walked into the spare bedroom, picked up my track suit bottoms and a T-shirt, then headed downstairs. I lay down on the sofa and switched the TV on. I pulled the laptop onto my lap and began to type every thought swirling in my head. Here is a "cut and paste" of some of my thoughts from my list:

1) I am losing my battle of the bulge

2) If I get back on my low carbohydrate diet Varinder will start nagging me about eating too many eggs again (I eat 2 a day on this diet)

3) What if my arteries are caked with cholesterol and I just don't know it and I die suddenly of a massive heart attack?

4) What if I become a diabetic?

5) What if we don't get investment for the floatation of our company? What if no one is interested and we end up with egg on our faces?

6) What if I become a diabetic with a heart condition who can't get investment for his company?

7) How will our lives change if we have a baby? Is this the right time?

8) We have been trying for a baby for a while and Varinder hasn't conceived. How much longer do we try before seeking help?

9) What if I become a father who is a diabetic with a heart condition who can't get investment for his company?

10) Will the baby be brought up a vegetarian like Varinder? Will I have any say in its religion (Varinder's family are sikhs. I don't want it to have any religion)?

11) What if I call Varinder's dad and ask for his help in running our business?

12) What if he discovers that we have been trying to grow the business at three times the rate at which it can cope with?

13) What if he faints with shock when he looks at out accounts?

14) What if he blames me for mismanaging the business?

15) What if Varinder's dad says that the only honourable thing to do is for me to commit Hara Kiri on our board room table because I am a useless "businessman"?

16) Is my dad really looking down on me from heaven and watching overme/looking after me? (I know he is)

I could go on but I will bore the reader.

Whenever I get anxious I try to calm myself by thinking funny thoughts. I thought of Varinder's brother, Navdeep. He is ten years old, very bright, extremely lovable and looks upon me as an equal (not a good thing).

I smiled to myself as I recalled the time he came over and whispered in my ear that he had found an "Indian Brides" magazine which Varinder had left lying on the stairs: "I wasn't looking at their clothes -- I was looking at their SKINS," he whispered tome scandalously.

Navdeep feels like my own little boy because I have known him since he was 5-years old. All of my paternal instincts kick in when he comes to stay with us during school holidays. I get impatient with him the way my dad used to get impatient with me. I lecture him the way my dad used to lecture me too.

Yet he still insists that I tuck him up in bed every night so we can have a short "man to man" talk -- usually about how I met Varinder or what my dad was like. He will be eleven in a few short months and I can see in him early signs of a guy whowill fall for pretty girls to his left, right and centre (and girls for him too).

When we are out walking together without Varinder and he sees a pretty girl he goes into a mild trance. Sometimes he even forgets to talk. He stares at his beautiful subject for a couple of seconds before snapping back to reality and checking to see if I was watching him. He will smile, raise his eyebrows innocently and look ahead again, as if nothing happened.

Once we were on a tube train from Victoria to Richmond and he was sitting on Varinder's lap (the carriage was full). I smiled at him to see if he was okay and realised that his mind was somewhere else far away. His mouth was half open and his eyes were staring fixedly at something slightly to his right.

I followed his line of sight withdifficulty because there were so many people standing. Eventually my yes settled on what he had focussed on: the longest and sexiest pair of legs in the history of long,sexy legs. I worked my way up from high heel of her knee length boots to discover the shortest mini skirt I had ever seen -- it had a tartan pattern on it too.

Navdeep and I were both mesmerised. I continued to work my way up past her white polo neck to her pretty face and long blonde hair. She was clearly smiling at Navdeep (who was wearing his balaclava at the time). Varinder's voice cut in to me:

-- "What are you two doing? You are embarrassing her, you are embarrassing me and you, Siamack, are acting like a dick!"

Navdeep and I looked at each other, then looked down to study our shoes. Even Varinder later admitted that she had an extremely good pair of legs. When alone with him I tease Navdeep quite often. This was a favourite request:

-- "Nav?"

-- "Yes?"

-- "You know when you grow older and start bringing your eighteen-year-old girlfriends home?"

He looked away slightly embarrassed but Varinder was in the other room so he had no needto be.

-- "Yes," he whispered

-- "Could you please make sure that they have attractive older sisters you can introduce me to? We can go on double dates!"

-- "What?" he snapped back

-- "Look, your sister will be old, wrinkly and very unattractive in another 20 years time. You have to help me by introducing me to pretty girls"

His voice deepened and he stared angrily: "You have married my sister and you cannot look at any other women! VARINDERRRRR!"

I grabbed his mouth so Varinder wouldn't hear him.

This is exactly how my dad used to tease me when I was Navdeep's age. Only my dad would ask me to make sure that their sisters had blonde hair too. I too would angrily remind him that he was married to my mum.

I was beginning to feel tired again. If I got up to go to bed I would risk waking myself up. However, I didn't want to fall asleep on the sofa. I finally gave in to myself and went upstairs.

I don't remember falling asleep. I do know, however, that Navdeep and Varinder got on the horse with me, and that none of us fell off.

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