At about three years of age, Rumi has started to acquire a sense of propriety and possession. She likes things to be just “so” – she, for instance, hates it when I wear “Baba’s” T-shirt or Baba’s slippers. She almost cries in frustration, “Pan te baba cha ahe, tu ka ghetla?” (It belongs to Baba, you can’t just take it!). It upsets her if the blanket has a crease where it shouldn’t or if the furniture is moved about and changed from its usual place. My heart aches to watch this because this is exactly how I remember being. This is one of those traits that I had fervently hoped to not pass on to her but she seems to have genetically imbibed it.
I work well with Black and White. This is this and that is that. When things fall in their prescribed order, I thrive. I need to be ‘clearly told’. I do not interpret, derive from context or read between the lines well. But life, I’ve been thinking, is mostly grey, be it the complexities of various relationships, what your boss promised but did not do, how you feel towards your own parents, what you should do next if you decide to quit your job.
I was very simplistic earlier. Hurt your feelings = bad. Ignored the husband = bad. Spoke kindly to Rumi = good. Lied = horrible. But I realized in the past couple of years that if I continued to operate out of my previous black-and-white vision, I would barely have people left in my life, because people are complex and so much more than one gesture or one careless word and have the ability to surprise you all the time! Like when you’ve judged somebody for being harsh in the past but they show up when you’re in trouble. And while I still believe that little actions add up, I have become much more tolerant and forgiving.
Growing up, I remember being mad at my parents whenever they would take decisions they didn’t really want to with the mantra “Karava Laagta” (There are some things you just have to do!). My brother and I would watch in bewilderment as a party meant for 20 guests would go up to a hundred people, but now I find myself saying the same words to my husband whenever we plan an event!
I can’t even recall the number of times I’ve thought in retrospect, “Oh, he should have just told me!” “Why can’t they just tell him it’s wrong?” “Just tell”. There are very few people who “just tell”. What you mostly need to do is expertly navigate through a fluffy cloud of a combination of other people’s thoughts, words and actions and trust your inner voice to guide your boat right. I was never big on the inner voice. My inner voice is mostly silent, except for an occasional timid plea of “Can someone tell me what to do next?” Then I generally grab the phone and dial “Mom”.
But with Rumi, I’m learning to trust my instinct more and more. The voice inside has become stronger, more confident. But it is definitely NOT a movie-like dialogue with another me in the mirror, knowing exactly what needs to be done. Mostly, when there is too much chaos and ambiguity to deal with, I just hit the sack. I can sleep anytime, anywhere and I always feel better and clearer after a nap.
Now I am almost embarrassed that almost 30 years of life experience has been distilled into this banal advice to my child of “take a nap”. It is not a gem, I know. But all I want to tell her is to wait for the morning. It is tempting to respond with a sharp word when you’re agitated. It is tempting to ‘unfollow’, ‘block’ and write a curt comment.
But if you just wait for the morning, you may feel like you don’t want to. That ungainly crack on the wall that made you burst into tears last night, may shine in the sun and not look bad at all. You may have a solution to that problem you were fretting about. You might even laugh a little at yourself at how that ‘little nobody’ upset you so much yesterday.
So Rumi, whenever, you feel heavy and confused and worried about lack of clarity, just wait for the morning. When you can’t figure out, what that person meant when they spoke nicely but in a ‘weird’ tone, just wait for the morning. When you don’t understand the ‘why’, just wait for the morning. On most mornings, you’ll have the answers. And if you don’t, you can always speed dial “Mumma”.