Yes, all parents do their best for their children and it goes without saying that they make immense sacrifices, adjust their lives and plans so that they can provide us with the best. But the sheer force of the random memories flooding my heart right now needs to be shared. So for my sake, reader, bear with me on this.
As little children, my sister and I, we used to sleep at night on our dad's arms. Yes, that meant he looked like the crucified Christ (albeit on bed!) with his arms outstretched. And we used to lie down; each tiny head resting on each of his arms. Now... think of lying like that the whole night, night after night, not being able to turn on your side, lying still with your arms oustretched for 8 hours or more. Now when I look back, I wonder how he managed it and didn't say a word. Every night we slept well... but I have never thought if my dad did...
Getting us ready for school was another task our parents endured during our early childhood! In Dubai, school timing was from 7am to 2 pm. That meant waking up in the wee hours of the morning to catch the school bus. Needless to say, I resembled a zombie at odd hours in the morning. But the funny part is, the 'getting us ready' bit was accomplished by an assembly line of sorts! Mom would wake us up, get us to the loo, thrust a brush with paste on it, get us to brush our teeth. Then she would bathe us, pat us dry and send us out to get dressed. I would still be sleepy and groggy and dad would put on the uniform; whilst I would move my body parts to a bare minimum; just enough to get the dress on me! I don't think I even used to bother buttoning the shirt! I'd just stand there as if it was expected of him to do that also for me. Then my mom would comb our hair, put on a little of make up (kajal, bindi, powder) and she would tie our hair for us too. I had very thick and long hair as a child; those who have seen me now would find it hard to believe. Managing such volumes of curly hair is quite a task. But she used to do the combing and tying part. All I had to do was doze off in a chair! And then, they'd put on the socks and shoes too! I did zilch in getting ready to school... all I had to do was subject myself to their instructions. It might seem like we were pampered, but this was the only concession. But I wonder how they used to do all this for us, when I now see my little cousins being expected to even wash their tiffin boxes.
Of course, it's another story how after coming back to India for good, my mother suddenly decided that we had to learn to do things on our own. It was in 5th standard and one day, she just refused to tie our hair. She asked us to learn on our own and figure out how to plait the hair. My self-reliant cousin saved the day then, but later we were forced to learn to tie our own hair! So that was my first lesson of being self-reliant, I guess.
Another naughty prank that we were upto was when my mom would come with a cane in hand, to thrash us! Yes, she was a strong advocate of using canes...mostly to frighten, but occasionally to strike too! Living in a flat in Dubai , we never had any place to run to or hide. But once in India, we had a huge courtyard at our ancestral house. Mom with cane meant danger alert and out we'd go and keep running around!!! She couldn't keep up with us and eventually, the use of cane fizzled...coz she couldn't get us to thrash, in the first place! Good times those! (my mom would say otherwise, I presume).
But if not for all that, I don't think I'd remember my multiplication tables, wouldn't know how to pronounce 'February' (yes, I had a serious problem in getting that right when I was a child), or a zillion other things that has made me capable today. My early memories of my parents go back to when I was a toddler. I had fever and mom was lying by my side, softly singing into my ears and gently patting me to sleep. It goes back to the umpteen bed time stories she told that I wanted to listen to. It goes back to the number of times dad bought ice-cream, sketch pens or little knick-knacks for me to get over each fallen tooth. It goes back to the number of years he toiled alone in Dubai so that he can provide for his family back here. It goes back to a thousand little things they have done. 'Thank you' is too small a token of appreciation to give. I still haven't figured out if I am worthy of their love or deserve to be their child. There have been a zillion times I've hurt them (teenage and beyond) and caused them worries.
Now, living in a different city, claiming the freedom I wanted and working to stand on my own feet, I realise that when you get what you 'think' you want, you realise the value of what you had. Every time I get mad at them (it works both ways, you know) I try to think of all what they did to help me reach where I am.
So this is for them... the two people without whom I am a nobody.
Mom....Dad.... I love you!