A moving account of reminiscence and nostalgia of a mother as she visits down the memory lane on the occasion of her dear daughter’s birthday.
Happy Twentieth birthday Iha .“Rise and shine, sweetheart.”
“Why?” She mumbled.
“Well, simply because it is a new morn, and one is expected to get up every morning, moreover it is your birthday today. Happy birthday” I said trying to wake my daughter up, but she had no intention of getting up just yet.
“I have just woken up to the advantages of sleep.” She said turning over to the other side, and winking mischievously in my direction.
“Okay, go to sleep then, I am going out.” Saying this I hastened towards the terrace, where the sun was on the verge of rising and shining.
The entire night yesterday, I knew she had not slept a wink, talking and laughing away with her friends, discussing the end to her teens, and at 2 am, she had even broken into a dance – what type of dance it was, I could not make out though , as it was made up of the weirdest and funniest steps I had ever witnessed in my life .
A man with a red turban cycled away, and a man in a yellow shirt tried to borrow a wee bit of the sun’s golden tinge. A plump faced girl, with a tangled mess of highlighted brown tresses walked past, talking animatedly on her cell –phone, and another girl whizzed past on her scooter, her face glowing in the morning sun.
I came back, to her room and saw the sun beams playing with her hair. I remembered her as a golden-haired tiny bundle as she lay in her crib, lost in her own world of elves and fairies, plucking fistful of air from the room and stuffing into her mouth, to her lisping days, her stumbling and tumbling days, and even her grumbling days, her sulking days, her tantrum throwing days, the beginning of her teenage anger, anguish and angst days, school joining day, her school leaving day, her college joining day-and now almost a couple of months away hovered her college leaving day . And today, her teenage years had come to an end! Where did all these years go?
I shuddered – where would she go for her post- graduation? Delhi? Bangalore? Pune?
Then I remembered one day ten years back-when she was seven and a half years old.
The road had a new look, it was being broadened. I sat in the balcony of our first floor government flat, in Bharatpur, looking at life as it sped past on winged feet. Suddenly a gust of wind blew away the paper that I had been reading.
“It has gone back to its mom”. My daughter chirped from behind.
“I mean the tree over there”.
”How dumb can you get, mom? Isn’t the newspaper the product of the tree? And I think you are a teacher of Huh-huhing,” she said with a lopsided grin.
My seven going on eight precocious daughter was bent on embarrassing me. I refused to be embarrassed and cast a look towards the tree where her tiny hand had been pointing.
Next to the tree stood a tiny hammock-actually a shabby piece of cloth strung between two robust pieces of wood, in which slept an infant, blissfully unaware of the carts, buffaloes, camels, horses that cruised past. With a protective arm around the hammock stood a four year old girl, and another toddler sat on the ground next to the hammock playing with the mud.
They were the tiny tots of the labourers who had been laboriously working on broadening the roads, while their children patiently waited for their parents to earn their daily wages, so that their shrunken stomachs could be lined with food.
“Where are you going?”I asked bewildered as I saw my daughter race inside, come back with her bag of soft toys, a few biscuit packets and a bottle of water.
She kept the biscuit packets and water bottle on the stair case, and ran down with her soft toys and thrust them on the girl. “Do not play with the mud, play with these”. The tiny girl looked askance at the toys and then at my daughter, a bright smile lit up her face. Under the assault of the scintillating smile the sun slunk away in inferiority, and hid behind a cloud cover.
The girl gave a soft cuddly bear to the toddler playing with mud, and he pounced at the bear and gave him a bear hug. My daughter came back for the biscuit packets and the bottle of water, ran down with them and gave them to the parents who smiled gratefully in her direction, while I smiled towards her with a proprietorial air-a glow of pride suffusing my face.
“You have risen sweetheart, and are shining,” I said as she came and stood next to me, beaming from ear to ear, and hugged her.
“But were they not your favourite soft toys, sweetheart?” I asked; keen to know her answer to that.
“Well, mom, I think they needed them more than me, did you not see they were playing with mud? And do you not say that you should not have any second thoughts about giving your most precious things to people who need them more than you?”
“But I will never give you away, mom,” she said flinging herself at me.
I jerked myself out of my reverie, my cherished memory of the day when my tiny daughter had really risen and shone brilliantly!
“Happy birthday”! I sang again , planting a kiss on my daughter’s cheek.
“No way am I rising and shining”, she mumbled.
Pic courtesy: Antara
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The Separation – a short story by Maya Khandelwal
The Last Night of My Life – a short story by Nikita Goel
Rise and Shine – a touching mother’s musing about her daughter by Santosh Bakaya
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