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For My Daughter
|by Sujata Ashwarya Cheema|
I woke up later than usual, pervaded with Brinda's thoughts. It's been some time that my daughter has gone. As I painfully left the bed to prepare myself for the day, her tiny teddy bear slipped out of the almirah. Her favorite one! For her gloriously tender age, she has many-a-favorites. She loves my dangling earrings and often asks me, 'Mamma will you give this to me when I grow up'. She loves my yellow sari and wants that too. They are all yours and I shall buy you many more, I say, and her happiness knows no bounds. One of her favorite stories is 'The Three Billy Goat Gruffs' and that of little Hanuman devouring the sun. Not to forget her favorite Tom and Jerry cartoon and her face animating with abandoned laughter and hurried shrieks with each of Jerry's escapes and triumphs over Tom.
Brinda has a way with life. With a bat of her eyelid she makes me acquiesce to her most 'outrageous' demands, and justifies them with an undeniable logic: 'Mamma, I am just a baby'. It is amazing to watch her fret over her friends, coaxing them to have juice, or shake her leg to her favorite song 'lakdi ki kathi'. She can hear it a thousand-times over and giggle in a thousand different ways each time it is played. Sometimes she rummages through the cupboard to find that piece of chocolate I hide to enforce discipline. At times she succeeds, at other times, she doesn't. The sense of adventure on her face in this cat-and-mouse game enlivens my life, instantly. She can coax me out of my most desperate moments with her innumerable pecks she indulgently gives out, perched on my lap. She knows me perfectly well and at times our roles are reversed.
She loves to listen to stories, like all children, but she goes further. She weaves stories with me, sometimes for me, and in her innocence extends the realm of possibilities. Her wide-eyed wonder, incessant questioning, and insatiable curiosity fill me with wonder and pride. She has what I call an 'independent spirit' ' a 'healthy' disrespect for constraints and authority. She doesn't gives into admonitions or scolding easily, defies my 'diktats' with counter-questions and packages her defenses with a disarming smile, revealing those enchanting little crooked teeth. She knows her mother is placated, adequately.
One day, I dressed her up as a doctor and painstakingly made her rehearse lines for the fancy dress competition at school. In one of the mock practices, I asked her who she was and pat came the reply, 'I am Brinda'. I left her alone. The time 1:30 pm makes me very restless. It's my daughter's time to come back from school. I imagine her walking towards me with paint on her blouse, tie let loose, hairpin sitting precariously on her beautiful, curly hair, and shoes stained with mud. Mornings are agonizingly slow-paced these days. I am not expecting my daughter school van's frenzied horns. I do not go to the park anymore in the evenings. Where's that little monkey to go atop the monkey-climb?
I remember the day she was born, her resplendent cries, her slimy exterior when I touched her torpidly. I had given her flesh and blood, but I felt the stirrings of a soul anew. Since then she has grown, acquiring a character that can just be called her very own. She is her own perfection. She challenges me every moment to see the world beyond my inhibitions, imagined contradictions, and selfish aspirations. With the enchanting cacophony of her voice, she transforms the ordinary rhyme and reason of my life into millions of brilliant vistas. She is like a soothsayer, promising a better day, a mythmaker, fashioning a dream-like existence.
As I reminisce and rejoice in Brinda's thoughts, I become little more generous, a little less angry at circumstances separating us. How wonderful it is to be a mother, Brinda's mother!!
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