By Prachi Priyanka
‘The most important things in life aren’t things’ (Anthony J. D’Angelo)
Some moments stay imprinted in our memories. One such moment was when my one-year-old was fussing over something while I was too preoccupied to notice him. He kept following me wherever I went. I hardly had an hour at hand and the guests were expected to pour in anytime. There were still a couple of dishes waiting to be cooked, table to be laid for dinner, and the kitchen to be mopped up, which appeared in a pitiful state.
I asked my husband to clean up the kids’ room but the room still looked untidy. I pointed out that there were still toys scattered on the floor. He frowned at me showing his displeasure and muttered something inaudible as he switched on the television on a high volume. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t put things in right places instead of proving he was right and I was wrong. He did not care if the house looked clean or the curtains matched the wall. He believed in taking life easy.
It’s not that I didn’t. But how could I? I had to keep switching between different roles. By the end of the day, I was too exhausted. I felt like crying.
There was my son throwing tantrums, and in no mood to play with his toys or sit at one place. He insisted on my attention, something I could not afford to give him amidst all the work piled up. He mightn’t have been feeling well that day. He might have just needed a cuddle, a smile, a hug. But I didn’t give him any. Instead, I pushed him away and continued to cook. He left the kitchen sobbing. By the time I came to check on him, tired and exasperated after all the cooking and cleaning up, he was fast asleep. His body was curled on a pillow and the tears dried up on his cheeks. In an attempt to wipe off tears that rolled on his now dry cheeks, his dusty palms had left small patches of dirt all over his face. And yet he looked so innocent, so pure! I had heard that no matter how much a mother loved her child, she always tended to love him a little more when he was asleep. But it was something more than love I felt now.
I felt a whirlpool of emotions. Thoughts wandered like shadowy strangers. My eyes were moist with tears as I slowly perched on the bed and sat beside my child. Ah! My heart ached to reach out to my baby. I bent down to kiss him. The bell rang just then and I could hear a flurry of excited voices greeting each other. I got up quickly, arranged the pillow under his head, spread a blanket on him, and turned towards the mirror. I still looked lost, stressed out, and sad. I reached for the cosmetics to hide my tired eyes, straightened my disheveled hair, glossed my lips, and wore a fake smile as I came out of the room to play the perfect hostess to my husband’s office-friends and their wives.
Everything was perfect. Well almost. The drinks were served with freshly made vegetable kebabs, followed by an elaborate lunch with two curries, a side dish, pickle, salad, and a cucumber raita. There was chilled custard for dessert, something I had cooked the previous night to relieve myself of the hassle of last minute preparations. I was still so occupied with the dusting, cleaning, and cooking the entire day that it left me with no time to sit back and relax. While the guests complemented me on how efficiently I managed to keep the house sparkling clean, I noticed specks of dust on the window sill. I wondered how my mother managed to run the house so efficiently when she had only half the gadgets that adorn my house.
I kept thinking of my mother. The guests slipped into a conversation that seamlessly ranged from politics to poverty to rural growth to globalization. I was preoccupied with thoughts about my own life. I realized then that my aspiration to perfect everything was far greater than my mother’s. I raised so many hurdles for myself and all my time was consumed in jumping from one to the other. I found myself operating in a constant state of anxiety as I tried to create schedules and meet deadlines.
I felt miserable. My mind began to jam up. I knew I needed to liberate myself.
I waited for the guests to leave. While my husband accompanied them to their car, I did not rush to put the leftovers in the fridge, pile up the soiled dishes, arrange the cushions back or wipe the table till the stubborn spot was removed. No, I let them be.
I went and sat beside my child. I sat still and looked at my child. I listened to the clock ticking and thought of the moments passed that could never be reclaimed.
In our rush to build a career, meet challenges, make money, and collect ‘comforts’, we often forget that time is a finite resource. I will not forever be with him and he will not forever be a child. There is a world outside waiting for him. I will have to let him go.
I slowly lied down beside my son and gently held him in my embrace. He held my finger tight in his fist. I saw a faint smile on his face; a golden glow of pleasure was spreading all over his round, pink face. I pushed away a wisp of hair from his face and kissed lightly on his chubby cheek.
The only thing worth stealing is a kiss from a sleeping child.
Prachi Priyanka is the Editor and Creative Head at Morsels & Juices. She holds a doctorate degree in English literature and conducts creative writing workshops for enthusiastic learners. She enjoys weaving articles on various topics – ranging from art criticism to book reviews and relationships to recipes. Her articles and poems have been published on B’khush, Sonchirri, and Life Beyond Numbers. She also writes columns for Morsels & Juices.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.