The countdown has begun. In a few hours my elder daughter's ICSE results will be out. She is alternatively worried and tense, has been for the last few days. Thankfully choir practice has taken her to school so she is not eating my head and moaning about the place! I am home. Yes, waiting for the results, among other things. But that is not primary in my mind... The daughter in question, you see, was also awarded a merit prize in school today. So this morning, along with a host of other proud parents, my husband and I did the school duty.
The other daughter, whose summer vacations (horrors!) have just started is lolling about the bed and dreaming of breakfast. Yes, although it is almost time for lunch! I tried asking her to get out of bed and doing something useful but stopped myself, leaving her be. After all, it is the first day of her holidays! And life has enough time for the 'useful' things.
I sometimes wonder how we got this far. As I have oft repeated, I am not the 'mother' type... it was never in my list of ambitions to either marry or raise children. In fact I often still dream of running away from it all.
Last month, well, I had a chance to do that. I was invited to Austin to read my poetry. I went. Alone. This was the first time in my (almost) twenty years of marriage that I was away from my marital home for a whole week. And the long flight, Vodafone's expensive international roaming and the distance gave me a lot of time to myself. To brood. To explore. To think.
Oh, I had a wonderful time alone. No children running up to say their feet are hurting, can we take a cab? No one to say you can't walk that far, my shoes are too tight! No one asking for coffee or burgers or coke just because we passed a Starbucks or Dennys. No one to say that it's lunchtime or tea time or too late or too sunny to go out or whatever... I was alone and the only voices I heard were in my head.
Did I miss them?
I'll answer that question later.
At the poetry reading, I took the mike and told everyone that this was my first reading ever! I was feeling rather humbled and privileged to be among such an erudite group. I somehow managed not to cry. Afterwards, someone congratulated me on my poetry and called me a poet.
"But I'm not a poet," I told him, "I'm a lawyer."
"Ah," he said, "that's just bread and butter, you have to think of yourself as a poet. Take the plunge."
Somehow, that thought stuck in the back of my head.
Coming back to where I was, how did I get so far? What is it that defines us, makes us who we are?
As I said, I had time to think. I think it's a bit of that fairy-dust that we all carry. That little magic that makes each of us special.
I remember that time when we were holidaying in Thailand and I gave the girls some sunflower seeds to munch. Those were the days when I was trying to tell them to eat their veggies because they were good for them. They happily ate the seeds and asked what they were for. "Oh," I said, you'll have sunflowers growing in your tummy!" So for the rest of the holiday they would run up to me, open their mouths wide and ask me to see if there were sunflowers. There were. Every time. Beautiful sunflowers dancing under bright blue skies.....
Or that time in Delhi when we no place to leave them so we took them to Taj Palace with us for a rather formal and stiff dinner. I convinced them that this was a real palace and they were dining with a King. Believe me, their table etiquette and manners were impeccable. Only later, they told me Kings were rather boring and they did not care if they ever saw the King again!
That one morning in Loch Lomond, on a driving holiday we stopped by a shop selling souvenirs. The shop was launching some milky liquor and tiny sample glasses were kept on a tray at child level. While we were busy looking around the shop, they happily helped themselves to some of the "sweet milk"! Believe me, that day throughout our drive no one asked us how long it would take to get there... they happily slept in the back!
I remember that other driving holiday we took to Mukutmanipur. We left at 4 AM. Got the kids in the car with blankets and pillows and they slept through most of it.. By the time they woke we were almost there. No vomiting, no fuss, we reached.
Or THAT time when they saw someone kissing on screen and asked me, "why are they sucking spit?" I was speechless. A few minutes later, the inevitable question came, "do you suck Baba's spit?" I did not know where to hide.
Or when they took to watching our wedding video every other day and complained, "you never take us anywhere, see, we are not in this video..." I never had the heart to tell them that the wedding might not have happened had they been there!
Then those times when the girls' room was silent, too silent and I went and found them up to some serious mischief... How did you know, they would ask. I always claimed I had X-ray vision. Along with eyes at the back of my head of course!For a long time, they believed me.
And then the memories just carry on and on. Breast feeding...potty-training...spitting food...the first steps...sitting in front of the fridge waiting for someone to open it and going "THANDAA" when it opened!...crawling to the door dragging the new maid's bag and saying "ta-ta" and waving...the way they dragged themselves on our feet when we would go to work... the joy in their faces when they saw us at the end of day... the eyes that lit up when I went to pick them up from school because they just knew I'd take them out for lunch somewhere... those scribbled drawings that came without fail every anniversary, birthday and mother's day proclaiming their love for me, I have them all saved... saved for that day when I know, too soon, they will leave the nest and I will have no one to write anecdotes about!
Fact is, I cannot remember a time when I was NOT a mother.... And you know what is the surprising thing I have discovered about myself? I'm neither a poet nor a lawyer. I'm a mother first. And I got the best first-hand training from two lovely girls who are now almost ladies. And from my nieces and nephews who keep me on my toes.
And to answer your question did I miss them? I did. But I also enjoyed the Time Out!