When Rumi mothers me

It all started with the loss of a black sweater. It was one of those perfect ones that are soft without being ‘linty’ and super thin but really warm. We were in Phoenix when I saw it at Marks and Spencer and I got really excited and clutched Abhi’s arm and said “That’s the very sweater I’ve wanted my whole life!” Which is only the tiniest bit of exaggeration because that sweater was up there with some things that you  love for no particular reason, that may or may not look good on you but you fancy all the same. I’ve always wanted those long cardigans that you can wrap around your front when it gets cold, and it was the perfect length, available in my size and at a discounted price too! Need I say more? Anyway, THAT sweater was lost.

I get really mad at myself when I lose stuff, and I lose stuff all the time, which means, I am fuming at myself on a regular basis; at least once in every two days. When I misplace something, it upsets me so much that I shed tears of anger and frustration and waste a lot of time being angry and muttering and cursing till anybody who intervenes and helps me search calmly ‘finds’ the lost object right under my nose. (“Devani dole dile ahet ki buttone?” Do you have buttons instead of eyes? – one of my Mum’s favorite lines). It is one of those things about myself that I am yet to fall in love with. I try hard to improve on this. To be mindful and not distracted. To check and re-check. To ‘not forget”. But I invariably lose stuff. And I invariably bawl like a baby and throw useless questions at the husband like “I’m trying so hard. Then why does this still happen?” As if effort is supposed to guarantee success.

And so it happened that the aforementioned sweater disappeared. I was not even aware that I had lost it because I had blissfully assumed that it was in that ever-growing pile of clothes on a stool in our bedroom where clothes, bedtime story-books, extra pillows and other such is routinely dumped. Once in a while I clear that jumble and feel good for a couple of hours, before the next round of dumping begins. Since Fabric Fables has made me busier than ever, that pile is currently a mini-pyramid that sways precariously every time we go near it. The black sweater was supposedly in that pyramid when I wanted to wear it. I rummaged. Nothing. I asked the husband to check. It wasn’t there. The corners of my mouth turned down. “I’m sure it is there somewhere” said Abhi soothingly. A sleepless night followed.

The next morning, the “turning-the-house-upside-down-to-hunt-for-routinely-lost-objects-tigress” in me arose. Cupboards and drawers were emptied and de-cluttered. I enlisted the help of the maids. A few hours later it was clear. The sweater was not in the house. Down came the rain. I was exhausted and angry and heartbroken.

All this while Rumi was watching me quietly. She knew that I was upset. I was trying my best to speak to her calmly and lovingly but she knew, like they always do. I had asked her to play on her own for a while as Mommy was doing something extremely important (eye-roll at my own drama!) When she saw the tears in my eyes, she summoned the courage to ‘disturb’ me and asked me in the sweetest voice there is “Kay zhala Mumma?” “Majha sweater haravla ga. Mhanun mala thodasa vaait vatat ahe.”  (I’ve lost my sweater and that has upset me a little). Then she said in the soothing voice that I normally use to comfort her “Its OK sweetheart. Haravla tar kay zhala? Apan anuya navin. Thaamb, mi shodte, thaamb. Pan saapde paryanta tu majhya maandivar doka thev Tula bara vaatel. Tula kishie deu ka? Huggie?” (So what if it is lost sweetheart? We can always buy a new one. Let me help you look for it. Meanwhile, you can put your head on my lap. Shall I give you a kiss or a hug to make it better?) I was overwhelmed at her capacity for empathy. My tears started flowing like a river.

Rumi went into the room and came out with an old dark blue pullover. Her face was pure delight. “Ha bagh tujha sweater! Mi shodhla. Ata khush zhalis na tu? Happy es na?” (Look I’ve found your sweater! You’re happy now, right?) That made me smile. My happiness means so much to her! And I have so many sweaters too, I’m spoilt for choice. Both realizations hit me at the same time. I wiped my tears away.

Having Rumi around helped me gain some perspective and realize the triviality of my loss; the time that I had spent in being a raging bull while my daughter sat still in a corner could have surely been put to better use. And as with most of my ‘lost’ items, that damn sweater did turn up some days later. But Rumi’s compassion has made a lasting impression in my heart.

On one episode of ‘The Mentalist’, I heard a line that Patrick Jane used to say to his daughter every night: “You are safe, you are loved, you are wise”. I loved it. I use it every night with Rumi: I assure her that she is safe and she is loved and on my part, I am convinced that she is infinitely wise.

Two steps forward, one step back

My laptop stopped working last month. It is possibly beyond repair, though the husband is trying his best to get it fixed. I am quite heartbroken; it was my very first laptop, my very first joint-present from my then-boyfriend and parents and it served me well. No laptop meant no blogging, and I was heartbroken about that too, because I had been working hard to churn out an article a week and was in a pretty happy place, blog-wise.

A casual chat with a friend revealed that I could blog from my phone. Its a smartphone, duh! “Just download the App.” Of course! I was embarrassed for a minute and laughed at my own silliness and promptly started. Easier said than done, it was hard to gather my thoughts and type away from my cell phone so I wrote a few lines and then kind of gave up.

“What if this is it?” I asked my husband with my customary pressed-lip worried look? It took him a minute to realize that I was talking about my blog being “over” coz I had no laptop, before he howled with laughter at my silliness and ‘dramatic behaviour’. “What do you mean this is it?” he asked, still choking. “I can’t think of stuff to write. I’m not able to do it on my phone. I think, my blogging may have reached its peak with that Milind Soman post” I said, laughing myself.

The husband, being the angel that he is (or simply prompted into action by my dramatic sighs and hints), took off with my laptop the next morning and got it back “chakachak” (as good as new) with a new OS and stuff, so here I am, happily typing away.

December was delightful, as only Decembers can be, filled with lots of events and festivities. We had a fun cricket-themed, surprise party for Sushant’s (my BIL’s) birthday. The husband’s birthday present two weeks later was a Polaroid – he constantly talks about how we don’t print photos nowadays. He also sang in his annual “Silver Bells” choir and it was lovely. We missed Rumi at the choir but I did not want to take her along after last year’s fiasco where she screamed “Baba kade jaychay” (I want to go to Baba) right before Abhi’s solo. I had to leave the auditorium with her and miss out on his angelic singing.

Things with Rumi have been more delightful than ever, ever since I stumbled upon the not-so-new-or-original but still eye-opening mantra of “two steps forward, one step back”. This means: being mentally prepared for the fact that every day is an absolutely new slate with a child, and yesterday’s behavior may not have any bearing on things today. I have been expecting Rumi’s growth to be linear but if charted in a graph, it is anything but a straight line. It is more like those heartbeat lines they show in the movies – up and down and up and down, all jagged.

She has a good week, where she’s contently playing on her own, eating well, sleeping on time and laughing throughout the day and just when I beam with pride at her independence and her ‘growth’, comes a day where she will cling to my thigh like a monkey, scream, hit me, and refuse to be put down for even a minute. Sometimes, she happily thrives on a clockwork routine; on other days, she upsets all my plans and work. Just when I claim to have figured out what makes her tick, she surprises me by doing a 360 degree turnaround.

Our best days are the ones where I am in no hurry to be in someplace else. In such times, I am completely available to her, ready to build with blocks, paint, or just lie under the covers and tickle and kiss. It is uncanny how she picks up on my mental state. It is precisely on the days that I have a long list of to-do things that she takes hours to eat and wants to be carried. On such days I feel grateful about being a SAHM because I can afford to put off doing the laundry or dishes without it being a serious setback. Not that being at home is less work, but most of the work can be adjusted according to my child’s needs. Now that I am working from home, I do have days of frustration where I can’t seem to get anything done on some days, but on most days it is a joy to have Rumi around in my workspace, trying to imitate me sewing or cutting.

Just like Rumi, my work also goes two steps forward and one step back; a day of beautiful patchwork and picture-perfect stitches followed by a day of pulling and tugging and unpicking. The same goes with the blog. It’s a good mantra for the new year and I’m chanting rhythmically: two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back….