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The Humor of Melvin Durai

June 2009
The Humor of Melvin Durai


If you're planning to drive across the country with children aged 10 or younger, let me give you some advice: go and see a psychiatrist immediately. You need help! With a little therapy or medication, you may be able to control this urge to inflict pain on yourself.

I wish I had seen a psychiatrist before my recent 14-hour drive to Edmonton with my three kids, Lekha, Divya, and Rahul, also known as the PASSENGERS FROM HELL.

The trip was partly for business -- my wife needed to make a presentation at a conference -- and partly for pleasure -- the kids were looking forward to having lots of fun, which is why Divya, realizing that our car had left our driveway and was rolling down our street, asked the question, “Are we there yet?”

I had to explain to her that we still had 13 hours and 59 minutes to drive. She nodded, waited a little while and asked the question again: “Are we there yet?”

“We’re getting closer, Divya,” I said. “Only 13 hours and 58 minutes now.”

Many parents have DVD players in their vehicles, so the kids can watch movies during a long trip, movies that, with any luck, will put them to sleep. We decided not to take a DVD player along, partly because we wanted our kids to do some creative stuff on the trip and partly because, like most good parents, we were suffering from brain damage.

Our kids did attempt to be creative – for a minute or two. They did a little coloring and a little counting. Lekha, for example, counted the number of white cars on the highway, while Divya counted the number of white hairs on daddy's head.

When they weren’t being creative, they were often competing with each other.

Lekha: "I have the best seat. I can look out of the side window."

Divya: "No, I have the best seat. I can look out the front window."

Rahul: "No, I have the best seat. I can see myself in the mirror."

Divya: "That's not a mirror, silly. That's Daddy's bald spot."

We wanted our kids to spend part of the trip listening to music, which meant of course that I wasn't just a driver, I was also a DJ, with hundreds of requests from the backseat:

Rahul: "I want the dog song! I want the dog song!"

Divya: "No, the Mickey Mouse song! The Mickey Mouse song!"

Rahul: "It's my turn to pick the song!"

Divya: "No, it's your turn to pick your nose."

Lekha: "Stop it, Divya. It's my turn to pick on Rahul."

We had the most trouble with 3-year-old Rahul, though his desires were rather simple: he wanted whatever his sisters had. If Divya had a toy, he wanted it. If she had a banana, he wanted it. If she had hiccups, he wanted it.

Most of all, he wanted to get his hands on his sisters' dolls.

Rahul: "I want the doll! I want the doll!"

Me: "Rahul, boys are not supposed to play with dolls."

Rahul: "I'm not a boy. I'm a girl!"

Lekha: "Look in the mirror, Rahul"

Divya: "Oh no, the mirror’s cracked! Daddy's head is exploding!"

Rahul: "I want to put Daddy's head back together again!"

Lekha: "No, I want to do it!"

Divya: "No, it's my turn this time!"

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