My daughter’s school project made me open my cupboard and pull out my photo albums of my honeymoon, vacations, and then her as a baby and all her 5 birthdays.
While she recognised her father even in pictures where he was sporting a French beard which had long since given way to a ‘stubble’, it was difficult for her to digest that the woman standing next to her father was actually her mother and I wondered why. That’s when I noticed that the changes in my life were written all over my face. Not that I faced any great hardships in life; ups and downs, yes, but not any hardships.
Getting married at a young age and trying to become a perfect wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and later mother, I forgot to sit and actually smell the flowers.
My husband had also grown old and the bulge on his stomach and the strands of grey hair on his head were proof enough, but a part of him had withstood the passing of time, which helped my daughter recognise him easily.
Maybe his habits…he was not one to change his habits easily. He’d call me every day at lunch because I had asked him to, so I could show off my new (and first) mobile to my colleagues.
Mobiles changed, friends changed, organisations and designations changed and it no longer felt right to have a trendy ringtone, so the phone was on silent, but he still called, from Mumbai, Kolkata and even London and I waited for his call, every day.
But I changed…
The other day my daughter decided to stay with her maternal grandparents and I came back from work to an empty house with just my husband who had also come back early. That evening, just the two of us, we talked about nothing and maybe everything.
That day there was no talk of jealous colleagues, inconsiderate family members, pending homework. We remembered the first time he wanted to express his love and was too scared. We were in a car and he quickly wrote ‘I love you’ on a face tissue and gave it to me…the gift was invaluable. We remembered that our first movie together was Planet of the Apes and I had second thoughts about marrying him after that. I kept laughing and he still doesn’t understand what the movie had to do with marriage.
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There was a time when we worked different times of the day and we sneaked out from our respective workplaces for a 10-minute chocolate date with each other.
How we laughed remembering Mummy’s face when once all of us were out working and she opened the door to my sister-in-law at 11 pm and shouted, “Is this the time to come back home, you are so irresponsible!”, then opened the door for me at 1 am and shouted and then got up and opened the door to my husband at 4 am and shouted again…of course now she is used to our erratic work timings.
He’d look at my bag and wonder why I needed a suitcase every time I went out. That’s because he’s always honking from the car and I am always running down the stairs half ready with my bag, dupatta, hair flying all over…. He’s still amazed at my skill in applying lipstick, kajal, perfume, nail polish in a moving car (and for all that you need a big bag). He says I look like a complete woman … eventually, when I step out of the car.
We’ve always called each other two poles which sometimes attract and sometimes repel, but we are proud and thankful that we produced a baby who resembles me and acts exactly like her father. He says I am outnumbered because our daughter is his ally.
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I am happy because they both eat the same thing, like the same movie, wear similar colours…and I have even started anticipating their similar reaction to different situations. Like when we were vacationing in Goa…both of them had a similar expression for the smell of fish….tongue out, nose wrinkled and eyes closed. So, while I had fish and rice, they lived on oranges, chocolates and soft drinks the entire vacation.
We laughed so hard, reliving our memories, that we were rolling holding our stomachs and I saw myself resembling the picture taken 7 years ago just after our marriage. I didn’t have to look in the mirror to confirm; his eyes were enough.
That day I learnt the importance of momentarily forgetting the unforgettable – your age, responsibilities, pending payments, mounting workload and give those precious moments to the one you love. The trade is worth it.