Monday, January 7, 2008

back home from school

hair askance, pigtails gone awry, sweaty faces, dusty clothes, dusty shoes, shoelaces undone, school bags hanging lopsided from shoulders, waterbottles that have emptied their contents out and are now hanging upside down-- never knew these could make for such a heartwarming sight.

nothing like going to pick up your child at the bus stop when she returns from school. even as the bus grinds to a halt, you can hear all the chatter and laughter from within its bowels come rushing out. "devansh, don't forget the maths assignment submission tomorrow," or "adel, give me back my flip book," or even, " bus uncle (the driver), karan mmere kaan khinch raha hai. main meri mummy se keh doonga" sometimes, several discordant voices in unison, "dil mein mere hai darde disco" accompanied with several thumps, claps and banging pencil boxes on the bars of the bus windows.

they tumble out of the bus or drop down tired, almost darkened by the day's sojourn, dragging their school bags, dragging their blazers. your bachha emerges too. and gives you a wide grin. three front upper teeth and two alternate lower teeth missing. the lenses of her glasses so dirty it's a marvel she can see. her shoes are a mess. a button's undone again. her schoolbag looks like a straycow mistook it for dinner.

she chatters endlessly as you walk home together. swati mam this and swati mam that. how she loves her english textbook (bell rings in her mother's head), and enjoys dance class. how her 'best friend' riya shroff made her a 'best friend' card. how dipayan eats up everyone's sandwiches in the break. and saminder mam is really the best teacher in the whole world, etc. if 3 x 5 is 15, how can 5 x 3 also be 15? her favourite table is the table of 1. close on its heels is the table of 10.

you relive your childhood again. a proxy childhood. recall how you used to come home, sit atop the kitchen counter and rattle off the day's happenings to your mum in a bygone era.

mithi goes on. you keep listening. you prize the few occasions you pick her up because her naani picks her up daily. you cherish what she is saying even if you cannot remember it all a half hour later. you know these years will fly past in the blink of a lifetime. one day she will not take the school bus or return by it. she will finish school. have her own kids. pick them up. you come full circle.

you remove her shoes. and realise soon you will not be needed to do that. there's a lump in your throat. "what's for lunch mama?" she asks. her favourite rajma you answer. "yay!" she rejoices. usual remarks. questions. changing into fresh clothes. having lunch together. an ordinary day. extraordinary moments. how do you retain them?

1 comment:

Kavita Arvind said...

i had a lump in my throat too... mithi is going to read this blog some time in her life and treasure all that you have written... i am inspired to have some mithis of my own after reading this! give her a kiss from me will you?