Its been almost 24 hours that you turned six but it has yet not sinked into me. Six, the age of being politically correct, the age of perfection. The age of saying things as they are. Of doing things as they should be done. I should be delighted, but strangely, I am not. I love it when you say things the way they are not.
I don’t know what milestone this year hold. I have never kept a track of whether you were doing age-appropriate things. It has never bothered me. All I know is that you are perfect to me and you brought out the child in me. The child I was mostly exhilarated to find.
You wore my dresses, my shoes, my jewelry, you turned my dupattas into saris and gowns, you twirled me and pretended to lift me up, like a ballet dancer and it reminded me, this is how I was as a child. I too wanted to be a dancer, although I am sure I wasn’t as graceful as you.
For the last two years, birthdays have meant a big deal to you and you have already become somewhat of an expert in all these arrangements, yours being the most important, of course. This year, you told me. “On my birthday, I will do whatever I want to do for the whole day.” I quickly agreed, and this is what we did through-out the day. We slept like there is no tomorrow, baked, had homemade food, you played while I prepared your favorite dessert, both decked-up in sari, prepared for puja at home and then read until we collapsed.
As I write this post you rush up to me with yet another bit of dog related trivia -they’re your latest obsession. (All thanks to Twinkle and her antics that we need absolutely nothing in our life to entertain us.) I don’t pay attention to a word, smiling at you besottedly and tousling your curls. I am a bad mother to you. Bad, because I find it hard to look beyond my love for you. I am so absorbed with indulging in it, examining it, working my way through it, that I am unable to rouse myself enough to scold you. It helps that you rarely need any correction.
I’m glad I didn’t try to ‘toughen you up’, because I’d be going against your nature and turning you into something alien. Everyday you make the world a better place with your gentle smile and your dreamy eyes. Just yesterday when we started reading a Encyclopedia which I choose as one of your gifts, you teared up when you heard about volcano and earthquake. You hugged me tight while you slept and I soaked up in the softness of your cheeks. Your feet are almost the same size as mine and I run my fingers through your rough but perfect curls.
Mostly you just ignore me and my fussing over your hair and keep your nose buried in your book. When you’re not reading, you’re drawing - creating a fantasy world and each creation absolutely stunning. Or singing in your own tune or maybe dancing the latest steps your teacher taught. You are so excellently good in all of them that if I ever have to choose anyone from the list, I would fail (anti-jinx, anti-jinx).
This year you will go to big school, to class one. And I can’t help but feel bereft. My little baby will spend longer hours in an unknown school, out of her second home "Foundation School" which has given us so much in past 3 years that I will always be in debt of it. I worry yes, more so, because you are a little girl in a violent world. I worry because you are trusting – having a full time two sets of grandparents who were always present with us to support you, giving you no reason to suspect others. And that just makes it harder for me as well as for you.
‘She looks just like you..’ people say and I look at them in pride as well as shock. Not at all, I want to say and I’m not being modest. But I remember the same scene over and over again – years of visitor telling my mother that I look like her, and she looking quite annoyed. Maybe its a family thing. Maybe we are obsessed with our daughters. Maybe our daughters are a distilled version of us, each generation a little sharper than the previous.
Time’s flying and my little baby is turning into a kid with personality to rival any adult’s. I watch you slip through my fingers, light as sand, delicate as foam, strong as silken thread.
Welcome to year 6, Shreya, Your father says this is just the first 6. The other 66 will appear in time and you are gonna rock them equally gracefully.
Gentle, sensitive, compassionate, stubborn, affectionate – you are everything that your Papa is, probably ten times over.
As for me, when I grow up to that age, I want to be like you.
And just like that, I know someday you will grow up and win over everyone who ever crosses your path. You tire me but fascinate me and again drive me nuts – and yet, I’m your biggest fan.
I love you.