2014 started off quietly enough, deep in a quiet bungalow in rural Bengal. I thought or rather hoped that the year too would pass in the same vein.
But with two teenage girls in the house, that’s a tall order.
You know, early on in my marriage, I had taken a decision that my family would always come before my career. I kept going to Court well into the seventh month of my first pregnancy. But then came a day when it got too much and I had to stop. Isha and Amisha, as you know, are barely 13 months apart. So for almost a continuous stretch of almost two and half years, I was either pregnant or lactating! In fact when Amisha was barely 4 months old I decided I had had enough and went back to work. It’s a good thing we are self-employed. Any other employer would have kicked me out long ago!
For, for the next ten plus years, the demands were endless. It started with smiles that tugged at your heart…the maid that refused to show up…the fall that broke a lip,… the fever that refused to subside…. the heart-rending wails of a child in colic pain….the first few weeks of playschool… the baby birthday parties where no one knew no one but everyone sat and pretended to blend in …. the tiny fingers that singed on a hot iron…the driver who went on leave…the odd school timings…..the baby meals …. those tears that soundlessly fell when I got ready to go out… those big eyes that followed my every move….believed my every word…
Unsurprisingly, work took a back seat and yes, I missed that big red bus with the flashing neon lights. I often wondered why I ever bothered to go to work at all. My Mom-in-law pushed me always, whenever I contemplated quitting, she insisted I ‘hang on’. And hang on, I did.
Last year I realised why.
I have no grubby hands held out to me waiting to be washed. No one picks up some toy from the floor and tries to feed me with it. No one wakes me in the middle of the night to ask for permission to go to the loo. No one looks out of the Montessori window just to make sure I am waiting there. No one wants me to help with the Math because two plus ten sometimes makes twenty. No one waits for me to tie their hair in cute ponytails and then bobs their heads when it’s done. No one climbs on top of me, pulls open my eyelid and asks “are you awake now?” No one hugs my foot and drags herself along to the door when I am trying to go out. No one waits till I’m in the loo and then starts to cry. No one calls to ask if she will wear the blue shorts or the yellow one.
My girls, as I said, are now teen-agers. I can come and go as peacefully as I please, in fact the girls are happiest when their father and I are out. The girls have their own little worlds: they are busy with their debating club, TV shows, choir practice, dramas, school activities, studies, friends, sibling rivalry, arguing about which clothes to wear, shoes….the list goes on and on. I have all the time in the world to do whatever I want….So, once I’m done with my professional work, to keep me out of trouble, here’s where you’ll find me, more often than not: writing, painting, catching up on my reading, or just engrossed in another absurd level of CandyCrush!
Getting back to 2014, the best thing this year (I think for once all of us will agree), was our summer holiday to the US. It was hectic but it was beautiful and all of us just cast aside all our worries and relaxed. Another fine holiday was to the tea gardens in Eastern Assam, Tinsukia and Dibrugarh.
And, yes, there was my school 25th reunion. I was hesitant at first, but once there I realised that those childhood friendships were the simplest..and the easiest to slip back into.
Oh we had our fair share of illnesses and difficulties, duties and responsibilities, disappointments and discouragements but in the end all that remains in my mind when I think of the years past are the quiet joys. The joy that is found in the simple laughter of Amitesh and the girls as they chatter away on a Saturday night thinking I am fast asleep in the next room. The joy of meeting old friends and not having to say much to be heard, the joy of sharing a little bit of our lives and getting enriched with a bit of theirs. The joy of watching a blood-red moon setting against a blue gold curtain of night as it rises on a new day……
In 2015, that’s the kind of joy I wish you all. Have a good one.