I know you aren’t going to read this now. But I’m hoping that someday you will.
You know what your Amma’s this year goal is? Perseverance. Do you know who she’s learning this from? You, Ammu. Your Amma is in awe of you because there’s no one who keeps on trying like you. Yes, I am talking about the cartwheels. Cartwheels. The first few days of your gymnastic class saw you struggling with this. But then, you are not the one to give up easily are you? I’ve even lost count of how many times you practice this cartwheel thing. ‘Ammu.. It’s about fifty times already. Take some time off and then continue.’ ‘No, Ma.. How can I let it go until I get it right?’ And there you go doing the fifty first one on the trot. You still haven’t mastered it but your effort makes me so proud of you.
And you know, it’s just not about cartwheels. It’s about so many other things. Reading. Aaah. The dreaded reading. For purely genetic reasons, Kuttan caught on to reading so easily but you still haven’t. But, you know, there’s this magical weapon you have with you – effort. Yes.. There was a time when I used to push you to read. But now, you take your books and begin reading like there’s no tomorrow. You still struggle a lot but the effort you put in makes me want to hug you. You, my girl, are my star.
Your Amma has never known the right things to say at the right time. She always wonders, after saying things, if it was the right thing to say. But you always know the right things to say. A month or so ago I was preparing for an interview with a consultant. ‘I am really scared of tomorrow. I am not at all confident’, I was blabbering to the air. But you came near me and told me this.. ‘Ma.. It’s just like the first day at school. I was nervous too on the first day of school. So don’t worry ma.. You’ll be fine.’ I know you are growing and all that but this, I did not expect. What can I say? I love you? That isn’t enough at all.
You know Ammu.. Your Amma never knew how to hug until you taught her how to. Oh she does the virtual hugs but in person, she’s still learning it from you. Even with your Paati, I would only show my emotions by tearing up. But now, I know how to hug, thanks to you. I can never forget the one time I realized how comforting your hug was. I was back from a job interview I knew for sure I didn’t do well. I was brooding over it a little into the vacant space as usual. ‘I didn’t do well at all. I am sure I am not going to get this job.’ I wanted someone to say something. You were my only audience. But you didn’t say anything. You just came to me, looked into my eyes, hugged me tight and whispered, ‘Don’t worry Ma.’ That’s it and I stopped worrying about it.
You are a happy child Kannamma. There have been so many times I’ve screamed at you in frustration. I still do. And I hate myself for it. But then, you never let it bother you. You do get upset but you come back to me in the next ten minutes and all is forgiven with just one smile. I am learning to forgive people from you. Wait.. I am learning to forgive people not with a grudge but happily like how you forgive me.
Ammu.. There’s so much you’ve been going through in the last seven months but the fight you are putting up against it makes me so proud of you. I’ve learnt how to face tough situations with a constant ‘I don’t care’ smile on the face from you.
Ammu.. If there is one Friday in my life that I will never forget, it is the 22nd January, 2016. The roller coaster of emotions that I faced that day can never be described in words. And I know I will keep facing such days in the future.
Two days prior to that Friday, I had received an email from Kuttan’s teacher that he had be chosen the Star student in his class. I was elated just for a moment and then, you came into my thoughts. How will you handle this? Will you feel bad? Will you feel happy for him? This news was supposed to be a surprise until Friday. I was calm on the outside but a million thoughts were buzzing inside me for two days.
Friday came and off I came to your school for the assembly. After a lot of prize distributions (why do they do this thing to 5-6 year olds? Grr!), Kuttan’s turn came. It was a surprise for him (and you!) He went on stage to collect his award after a lot of praises from his teacher. I saw you clapping for your brother. I was overwhelmed. Tears were running down my face. But…
I did not know that you were expecting your name to be called out next. When the assembly was over, it must’ve struck you that your name was never going to be called. You broke down. I saw you wiping your face. For one moment I just wanted to vanish from that place. The next moment I wanted to come down and hug you tight. And the third I was feeling guilty for not being completely happy for Kuttan. This motherhood can not be more confusing!
I did hug you eventually and came away leaving a crying you in the school. That day until you came back from school, I did nothing. I could do nothing. Finally, as I was expecting, you came back crying. ‘Did you cry the entire time in school?’ ‘No ma.. I started crying on seeing you’, you were sobbing. Oh Ammu.. You are me da. When I’m in a fix, I act all strong in front of the world.. But once I see (or hear) your paati, I break down too. Even now.
We all sat down in a huddle – you, Kuttan and me. We spoke for about an hour in the midst of all the crying and hugging. About how people are all different, even though we are siblings born at the same time. About how you can be a star student too if you put in the effort (aaah.. Deep down I knew I was a fool talking to you about effort but still..) About how you are a star in gymnastics while Kuttan is elsewhere. About how your Amma was intimidated by a super-talented BFF always by her side. About how your efforts will pay off one day. Slowly and subtly, about how you should be happy for your brother.
And then, we made a pact, remember. That whatever happens in the future, that we’ll be there for each other. Hah. Sounds so cheesy now but that day it worked. In the next twenty minutes, slowly you were back to your normal cheery self. And as soon as Appa was back from work, you showed Kuttan’s award to him proudly. ‘See this pa.. Kuttan has won it at school today!’ I saw the pride and happiness in your eyes. There.. At that moment, you taught me how to live, Kannamma.
Oh.. Let this world continue to say that I am your mother and you are my daughter. In my heart, I know that I am a child who is relearning what love and life is all about. From you. All I want to say is stay this way, Kannamma. Just stay the same!
Lots and lots of love,