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My little darlings,

You are five years old today. That’s right. F-I-V-E.

How much both of you have been waiting for this day! Any unanswered demand of yours will quite naturally lead to you turning five. ‘Amma.. Will I get to eat lots of chocolates when I turn five?’ ‘Appa.. Will I be able to watch lots of TV when I turn five?’ You think turning five equals becoming big. I mean, really big. However big that number is to you, remember, you are still these tiny little beings that the doctor handed over to me, wrapped in white shawls five years ago. I remember that day so clear that I doubt I’d forget it ever; even when I am wrinkled and old, suffering from Alzheimer’s. And, even then, you’ll remain my little babies.

Like I’ve said over and over again, the bond that both of you share, bowls me over most of the time.

The other day, we were to go to our neighbour’s place. Ammu, you refused to step out until I changed your already-pretty-dress. I was adamant and I wouldn’t budge. You were hot-headed enough to see me off, lock the door and sit quietly until I returned after about at least fifteen minutes. Alone. The only one in this entire drama who was calm and worried was your brother. All through the fifteen minutes we were out, Kuttan kept asking me about you. ‘Amma.. Why would you want to leave Ammu alone? Wouldn’t she get scared of ghosts et all?’ You are truly blessed to have an elder brother in the form of Kuttan, Ammu. Really!

Kuttan, I am sure you know what a nicey nice sister you’ve got, don’t you? A sister who saves her stuff for you. A sister who stands up for you when in need. A sister who teaches you the forgotten notes. A sister who reprimands you for not doing the right thing. A sister who kisses you, even if you’re embarrassed. A sister who who’d fight with me to support you. A sister who thinks you’re her world.

Every day, the cynic in me, keeps praying that both of you stay the same forever and forever!

Ammu.. At five, you are cheerful, feisty, active, loud and caring. Remember what your teacher wrote about you in your report?! Buzzing like a bee, she’d said. You are that. A busy bee. You know how to keep yourself occupied all the time.You don’t need TV. Yet, you demand it to give your brother company; sometimes even with a vengeance. All you need is a book. You still have doubts in even recognizing the alphabets; yet, all you need is a book to read. All by yourself. Yes.. You make your own stories. Build your own characters. The only two prerequisites are that the story should begin with ‘once upon a time’ and end with ‘they all lived together happily ever after!’ Aah.. I wish your story could be the same too and you really live happily forever, Kannamma.

Kuttan.. What do I say about you?! You are calm, serene, dreamy, articulate and boisterous. All at the same time, sometimes. You love to dream. There are those who mistake your calm demeanor as timidness; only until you’re clear enough to give away your intentions and act only the way you choose to. Once, your friend N and you were playing at his house. Then, when we were all about to leave to the park, you said you didn’t want to come. We were all puzzled and N pestered (even, threatened) you to come along with him. You smiled, took N by the side and in clear English explained why you didn’t like going to the park with him. ‘See N.. You play with me here. But, as soon as we go to the park, you start playing with A and P only and don’t play with me at all. That’s why I don’t want to come with you!’ I (and N’s mum) were dumbstruck. N’s mum was so happy you articulated your thoughts so well and conveyed a calm and composed ‘don’t mess with me’ message. You take after your dad in this regard and I only wish you retain the calmness.

Ammu.. One thing that has not changed from the last year is your love for dressing up. You can stand before the mirror for hours. You are very clear about the choice of your clothes. For your fifth birthday, you were clear you wanted a white dress, a yellow dress and a pink dress. You came along to the shop, picked one of each colour and left us emptying our wallets. But, you never once wavered into choosing prettier clothes. I love it that you’ve got a mind of your own.

Ammu.. Your hair is one thing that gives me perennial nightmares. I call it unruly, thick and rough while the entire world and its cousin gushes over it. My friend, S says she’s never seen hair more beautiful than yours; while I crib about applying oil and washing it once a week. Also, the drama you do to get it combed even once a day.. sigh. Ammu.. Such gifts from nature are rare; try to maitain it. And yes.. one more gift you’ve been endowed with is your smile. You have a smile to die for. Your dad is a slave to that smile of yours. Make sure you keep it intact. Forever.

Kuttan.. Most of the time, the thoughts that keep you occupied are about space.  ‘Can I go to the space when I turn five?’ ‘No.. You need to study a lot for that!’ ‘So, you’ve studied a lot, right? Why are you not in space yet?’ I have no answers most of the time for your space related questions. Even the pretend play that you do revolves around space. You use a skipping rope to connect your toys and cycle, sit on the cycle and ‘zoom up’ to the space. You are sometimes kind enough to take us to the skies as well. You love it when I read books on planets, earth, how-tos and whys. But, because the other audience sometimes demands princess stories and the like, I have to keep you waiting. And, you patiently wait for your turn too.

Kuttan.. There’s no one who can tease others like you do. On my birthday, when we were getting ready to go out, you looked at my new dress and said, ‘Amma.. You look so pretty!’ Your sister, who’d been decked up for the occassion beautifully enough was quick to take offence at your statement. ‘And me?’ she asked, indulgently. ‘No Ammu.. Only Amma looks beautiful; not you!’ was your reply with a twinkle in your eyes. Ammu, being Ammu, took it to heart and began whining. Only for you to go near her and whisper.. ‘Can’t you see I was just joking, Ammu?! You look pretty too!’ Great comeback, Kuttan. With that, you are sure to win a lot of girls’ hearts. Also, with your looks, even if I say so myself!

Ammu.. You have made a complete U-turn from a couple of years ago to be a wonderfully friendly warm person that you are today. You are soft-spoken and gentle with your friends unlike you are to me; downright rude. Sigh. ‘You know Amma that friend.’ ‘Which friend?’ ‘That friend, Amma!’ ‘What’s her name?’ ‘Oh.. I don’t know. But she is a nice friend who shares her stuff with me. Next time, we should take our sand-pit toys to the park and share it with her!’ Of course, Kannamma. But, please don’t forget to ask her name, next time. You are so friendly with a classmate, E, that you break your head every morning wondering what colour Tee he’s going to wear that day for wearing the same to match his’.

Kuttan.. You are very sensitive to things as against the easy-go-lucky attitude of Ammu. It is nice sometimes to give vent to your feelings but it can only cause heartache in the long run. I am telling this out of experience, Kanna. When we came back from Madras last month, you were upset about leaving your grandparents and cried through out our flight journey. It was hard to console you and finally you stopped being sad only after you met your dad. Your dad is your idol. ‘Are you wearing shoes, Appa? I’ll wear one too!’ ‘You’re drinking juice. I want it too!’ You think there is no one more fun than your Appa.

Ammu.. You love to sing and generally love music. You are into your keyboard classes only for the fifth day but you can remember the notes of four nursery rhymes. I am so proud of you although it might seem to be a mean feat for others. You can convert a simple ‘I want something to eat’ into a rhythmic song. Let’s ignore the fact that sometimes the song turns annoying going on and on for minutes on repeat mode. You and your brother love to annoy me further by playing only English (and sometimes Hindi) music when we drive. I’d have to beg for a Tamil song and before it even starts, you brand it as boring. Sigh. You have overcome the fear of water. Kind of. You are okay with getting into the pool; but the beach still stays elusive of your feet’s touch.

Ammu.. Your perseverance baffles me. If you want something, you bargain enough and more to make sure you get what you want. But, what I recently admired the most is your efforts to continue with your skating despite the numerous falls. You fall; you get up; you get going. You fall; you get up; you get going. And this rinse repeat every few seconds. I won’t be lying if I say I would’ve immediately pulled you out of your classes, had you protested a bit; even once would’ve done the trick. But, you’ve had whatsoever no idea of quitting. A lot of others would’ve given up; not you. You come back bruised; but not down. And, every morning you wake up to ‘can we go skate today?’ This attitude of yours will keep you going a long way, Ammuma. Just don’t give this one up.

Kuttan.. Your memory amazes me. You know all the moves in chess and pester your dad to sit with you during weekends to play with you. But, if you don’t want to learn something, you turn into a little Ghajini. You know what I am talking about, don’t you?! Yes.. Keyboard it is. You are not into it and don’t want to play it which means you don’t memorize the notes. Now, you know just one line of Row row row your boat and boast about it. Yet, you don’t want me to pull you out of the classes. Yet.

Kuttan.. You love to skate. You love to swim. You love spice. You love to be read. You love a schedule. You love to go out. You love to just enjoy yourself. You are slowly becoming an atheist. Yes. The effect of having ventured out to Tirupathi couldn’t have more serious repercussions than this. Sigh. You have a lot of patience. You sat through your two days of entire root-canal session without a fuss; a little bit of crying here and there but generally you were awesome. Touch wood. Also, we (your Appa, teacher, a therapist and me!) are working with you on a certain thing. You’ve shown tremendous improvement in the last few months. I hope you overcome this hurdle completely. But, even if you don’t, I know you’ll take it in your stride. All I want to say is remain cheerful and happy always.

Your Kollu Paati strongly believes that I’ve been lucky to have you both in my life. That, I wouldn’t have been blessed with more good and easy kids than you. I get annoyed and snap at her for belittling my efforts at bringing you up. But, when I think of it in solitude and with a clear mind, I know she is right. I couldn’t have been more fortunate than I am right now. You’ve been easy kids from even before you were born. I had whatsoever no problems when you were in my tummy. So it was, after you came into the world. In fact, our lives have only become more colourful and happy after both of you came in. For a struggling, just married and overwhelmed mother, both of you were blessings. Yes.. I’ve cribbed about the work that came with raising kids; but never have I cribbed about you. Thanks for being so good; so good to be true.

This weekend, we are planning for a party for you. A first big party of sorts after your first birthday. I am hoping it goes on well; rather, I am hoping that you get to enjoy yourselves as much as you should. And, as a surprise, your mama and Paati are coming too. So, yay!

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Here are a few thousands that are best described as cherished memories –

A new beginning!

A new beginning!

And, we love to cry as well!

We love to cry!

And, make a mess!

And, make a mess!

We love to love!

We love to love!

And, love more!

And, love more!

Happy happy birthday, Ammu and Kuttan. Happiness and good health is all that I wish for you!

Loads of love,
Amma

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