As she comes in sweating after a run, waves breezily and runs up the stairs to her room, it suddenly dawns on me that her birthday is near. She has completed a quarter of a century on this Earth. My daughter. A part of me, that lives outside of me and is now a lovely young lady. As confident and confused as any of her generation. She has numerous dreams, the capacity to work for them, but sometimes the disruptive nature of the times gets the better of her!
While she chats animatedly on the dining table about matters ranging from North Korea to the latest launch by ISRO, I recollect that sweaty card that would greet me everyday when she had just joined school. When I would return home from work, she would come and hand over a card to me that she would make everyday. ‘I miss you’ or ‘I love you’ with some scrawly drawing in her tiny hand. Everyday, she drew a card and gave it to me. How I wish I had kept some of them as a memory to the time. I wonder now, if in my busy state, I ever responded to her the way she hoped I would.
“Ma, come. I am getting late” – she shouts from the car, as she waits to drive me to a friend. The confident hands on the wheel today stem from the hours I spent teaching her how to drive a car on Delhi’s treacherous roads. She now drives me around often. A total change from the young ten year old behind whose cycle I would run as she learned to balance. How life slips from our fingers. Now all those moments of sharing, learning, falling and scratching are only memories!
‘You are not eating properly these days! Are you stressed at work?” She asked me at breakfast the other day, looking up from the newspaper. When did she become my guardian? And not the other way round? When I look back I think it has been all her life. As a chirpy young kid, gangly teenager or a flowering young woman – in all the phases of her life she has always watched my back, nursed me in illness and hugged me tight when she sensed I was upset.
We think that we look after and nurture our children, often overlooking how in their own way they do the same. They help us grow and expand in ways we never would, but for them.
We have had our share of disagreements, days of not speaking to each other. We have argued on timelines, kinds of friends, life goals and the like. However, lounging with her while watching TV, or lying on her bed while she is on a gadget nearby or gallivanting around town – hanging out with her is simply the most profound joy of my life.
As the canvas of her life expands and is splattered with rainbow colours, I think back of the years that have gone by. It has been amazing and engaging. Bringing her up, and in ways growing up with her in the last twenty five years, has been simply awesome.
Happy birthday kiddo – conquer your dreams and live the life you want!