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I sincerely hope that I have taught you enough to survive in this world. I worry incessantly that I haven’t, and I feel the need to protect you from every conceivable danger that awaits you.
I cannot believe I have seen seventeen calendars with you already. You are almost an adult now. Soon I can pester you to drive me to my various favourite haunts instead of the other way round.
That is if you are still around!
I forget. Often. That my young fledgling has grown strong wings and is about to fly off the nest. The ‘lil bird wants to explore the wide sky and the scared, protective me, worries about you getting singed by the harsh sun.
I am happy though, and my proud heart almost bursts with joy at the beautiful way you have shaped up.
Look at you blooming! All those sleepless nights filled with fret and stress, all those endless trips to the kitchen to whip up coffee and snacks to help you study, all those restless mornings with our little squabbles and sulk silences seem so worthwhile.
It feels like yesterday when we brought you home, after hours of my screaming and almost managing to strangle your father. You were so tiny! Pink, and very helpless.
The sad truth was that at that moment I didn’t feel too maternal. That endless pooping at your end wasn’t very endearing to my exhausted soul. But I think I truly connected with you at that instant when you smiled that benign smile of yours, recognising me as your food machine.
Well, that pattern has continued till now, our daily conversations begin with an endearing ‘what’s for food?’, from you, driving me utterly mad.
I still remember the way I howled when you cut your toe, the bewildered you wiping my tears while I tended to your wound. The sentimental me has kept all those fraying birthday cards and the random gifts you have given.
I treasure those endless snaps that I took of you, capturing your every mood, your every look, and your transition from an infant to a toddler to a child. And then suddenly you refused to get pictured with me, or be in the same frame. I had to literally bribe you to be with us in our annual Pooja/Birthday photographs. ‘I am not a kid anymore!’, you thundered.
But for me, you were always one. Because even though elsewhere I could be the employee of the month, I could be a trendsetter, I could be the eagle eye spotting potential talent, parenting you is what I did best.
Because you changed my life forever, when you came into it, bawling your guts out. Nothing was going to be the same ever again.
I sincerely hope that I have taught you enough to survive in this world. I worry incessantly that I haven’t, and I feel the need to protect you from every conceivable danger that awaits you. The world is harsh honey and I know you want to change it, and I cannot see you getting hurt because you are my weakness and my strength too!
But let go I must, because unless I cut the apron strings, we both won’t emerge stronger.
You have made me tough though.
Looking at the mess you spread around, the arguments we have about the hours you keep, and your choice of clothes, has taught me the power of zen. Calmness has become me, albeit fleetingly.
I am going to miss our slanging matches, my cuddling you (whenever you allowed me that is), our midnight conversations about life, my bickering about your messy bed.
The house will be neater, sparklingly clean perhaps, now hauntingly quiet as I potter around the house in the dark counting the days left before you leave. I’m sure you must be on tenterhooks too, but your unabashed joy at the very prospect of leaving home and your constant plotting with your friends kill me.
I have so much to tell you, so much to cover and so little time.
If only I could hold time, commanding it to pause just a little.
We haven’t even gotten around to making those cringy Insta reels or sorting your cupboard
I haven’t shared my secret recipes with you yet or how to stretch that ever-sinking rupee!
I hear you get up.
We’ll have a fabulous day today, doing a few things you like and a few things I want to. Let us make some wonderful memories for posterity and…
“Mom, what’s for food. Please hurry, I am leaving in ten minutes, my friends are calling me…”
Image source: a still from the film Listen, Amaya!
Anupama Jain is the author of:
* ’Kings Saviours & Scoundrels -Timeless Tales from Katha Sarita Sagara’, listed as one of the best books of 2022 by @Wordsopedia. Rooted in the traditional storytelling of Indian legends, warriors, read more...
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