I am always the last person to fall asleep in our home. And its not for any of the reasons you will find in the post below. Lately, I have begun to fully respect my need for at least half an hour of silence in my day – sans guilt. We are on the go from the moment we are awake -shovelling down breakfast, packing lunches, like whirling dervishes we spin out of the door and we’re gone. By the time we all get home, we are all in our own way, dying for down time. For me this comes when everyone, Viking included, is in bed. This is when I begin to potter. Does pottering sound very unmeditative and restless? Well, it would all depend on HOW you potter.
My pottering constitutes my daily dose of zen. I wander around, picking up clothes that have been littered and discarded on their way to somewhere and I breathe in the scent of my boys, the scent of their day. I finger the fabric for the longest time, bereft that they’re growing out of their clothes so fast, that they’re growing out of our lives and into their own as I breathe. I smile as I think of Armaan looking like a little emperor in his bright purple jumper.. the sleeve is already well-chewed and frayed. The way Arvind always insists that he HAATTES those brown trousers, but wears them at least twice a week.
I linger by our family pictures, some hanging on the wall, some on our mantelpiece. As I arrange and re-arrange them, I feel glad that we have only framed the genuine photographs. None of these pictures have been “posed” for. These were moments of genuine warmth and fuzzy happiness. We don’t look one bit smashing, but for that moment, we were very happy. I notice again how I love the way the Viking crinkles both his eyes and bent-out-of-shape nose when he smiles. How like Arvind, he laughs with his whole body. How his eyes are always kind. Portraits of the babies – I wonder if the day will ever come that I will able to look at them, and the breath won’t catch in my throat in that wierd, choking way? That I won’t be so totally overwhelmed by all that I feel for them.
A photo of my immensely good looking grandparents, taken a couple of months after their marriage, where they, by some miracle, manage to look completely uninterested in each other and focus intensely on the photographer. Decorum and decency seep through the sepia and it is such a contrast to the warm, loving, co-dependant and complicated relationship they shared for 49 years.
My parents in Kodaikanal – my mother’s eyes, bright and playful, peeping out from behind my father. My otherwise buttoned-up kinda father all loosened up and relaxed.
Tiny knickknacks that adorn our windowsills. Presents from widely-travelled friends. Memories from a wonderful vacation or a great day at a yard sale. I can’t stem the gratitude I feel for a life where we have been and continue to be the recipients of so much love. How lucky we have been to be able to adorn our life in this way.
I make my way down to Arvind’s room. I sit on his bed and bury my face in his freshly washed hair. He turns,and long, gangly arms and legs gather me into him as he mutters, “Mamma” in his sleep. His skin is starting to lose it’s little boy softness and I ‘m already wondering how I will lure him into oil baths during the winter. My beautiful first-born, living in the moment and loving like a maniac. If only I could cup that gentle, nurturing heart and protect it. If only I could tell him that life will always be hard if you wear your heart on your sleeve – and all over your bleeding shirt. If only I could force him to go against his very grain and not be so very vulnerable, so raw in the face of perceived rejection (groan). I hold his tiny heart-shaped face in my palms, kiss his forehead and send up a prayer that he will never learn to play it too cool with his little heart.
Armaan’s room, strewn with the building blocks that he contemptously knocks over and proceeds to ignore. Strewn with the books he loves, which he loves thumbing through, alone in his room. Armaan, for whom, I have a feeling, life will go easy. Almost indefatigable in his cheer, babbling, talking, pointing, learning, forcing his parents to carry him around the house, pointing out everything and talking him through every little task and ritual. Our baby boy, who, from the minute he was born, communicated his needs so clearly, with the minimum of fuss and who continues to do so. I gently finger the feathery curls gathered at the nape of his neck, wary of waking him. I marvel at your confidence, my darling. The way you can enter a room full of strangers and practically blind people with your rays of joy. The way you casually assume that the lady at the check-out counter has as good a reason as anyone to love you like we do, so why not babble and try to hug her? The way you seem to meet life with your arms outstretched and utter delight written large.
It’s long past the midnight hour and though I could have easily gotten an extra hour or two of sleep, I know I needed this. I needed to tank up on everything I love in my life.. needed these moments to cherish that which I so casually take for granted every day. And I get ready to crawl into bed with a generous Viking, who will, automatically and without fail, roll over on his side, open up the duvet and let me into the “warm spot”, not holding my icy feet against me. (Yes, you need cold winters to appreciate the importance of warm spots in bed – and pervs! rise from the gutters now!)
At some point in the night, we will be two adults and two children and a hideous pile-up of limbs in the bed. I might wake up with a toe plugged into my nostril. I assure you, I won’t mind it THAT much.