Life’s lessons
Thank you, child
Swati Rai

Another day ends, another night begins. What is it that an at-home mother looks forward to the next day? Can’t be the everyday ablutions or the promise of not going overdose on calories and doing just the opposite, as the day and her resolve wears off.

Looking at her sleeping child, she wonders how defenceless and harmless he looks. She recalls the day gone past, full of adventure and learning and sees the world through his now shuteyes.

The child gets up with a question, “Mummy, what will we do today?” His query begets overtly exaggerated responses from an eager mother, who is getting to make him brush his teeth. A mindless ritual like brushing one’s teeth becomes a swashbuckling adventure of “fighting the alien keetanu forces”.

Not to be defeated, he jumps out of the bed and emerges victorious on the ‘war on tar’. Next comes every mother’s waterloo — the breakfast table. Well, let’s just say that food is not the only thing getting cooked at this time of the day. She feeds him the evil buda baba story and food in the same breath. Thanks to her imaginative concoctions, the cornflakes, which are an alien force, and the bread spaceship are mercilessly devoured by hyperactive teeth. She finds herself digging deep into the reservoir of her imagination and is sometimes surprised at how creative a mother can be.

It is in the painting session with a child that any adult can relearn life’s simple pleasure of mixing colours. When both the mother and the child liven up a blank sheet with colours of their mind’ eye, a simple picture of a mango tree becomes a lifelong lesson in thanking Nature for its bounty. So what if the child decides to grow luscious apple on a mango tree and all does not go according to an adult’s plan? So what if the tree is an apple-mango one, the nest can surely nestle there. After all, destination is not as important as the journey and the latter has been quite picturesque, well worth the effort.

At bedtime, when the mother reads out the child a story, he creates her many more of his own with his ‘Whys?’ and ‘Hows?’ A mother learns that there may be more than one way the written word can be understood. He has his faculties about him, which make him decipher and interpret life in his own way. We learn that as a parent, our task is not to lead him but hold him with his little trusting hand and guide him in life. A good night it has been and a good day awaits us as we look at our teacher, deep in sleep. Thank you child, our teacher, as you keep the child in us alive, uplift us when we get ‘used to’ the sun shining and setting every day, when you make us look at the world with new eyes each day and so, we look forward to the next day. Tomorrow, after all, is another day.