She has a basket full of toys. Dolls. Lego blocks. Trinkets. Press-Me-I-Make-Noise stuff. Windup toys. Etc. Some of them are broken. Some of them have been used many times over. Some trampled and deformed permanently. Yet others, preferred. But all of them share the single basket.
Like today, we often guide her to the basket to interest her to play. She takes to them for a brief while. Plays with a few. Tosses away a few. Largely leaves the majority alone. And then, perches at the vantage point of her most favourite toy.
I mean, she climbs onto my shoulder.
‘COMMM’ she says.
‘Come’. It means. It is said so very nicely.
Her ‘Come’ (pronounced as COMMM) roughly translates to “start walking”. “Crawling”. Whatever. It means, as they say in English movies, ‘MOVE’! It doesn’t matter what I am doing. Working on the laptop. Cleaning shoes. Reading a book. Having food.
If she says, ‘Come’, I bloody well drop everything else and move. I am only more than happy to do that. That however is beside the point.
Sometimes we step out for a walk & carry session. She looks into the sky and beckons the Sun, and the moon and waves at the stars. At other times we roll on the grass or she slides down with a zing or just about manages to balance on the swing.
When you drive around town or walk the Powai promenade, if at all you spot a bulging balding man, fill his cheeks with air or walk on all fours and carry a young cute toddler on his shoulders across the streets, stop and say hello. It could well be me.
At other times, when work saps my sinews silly or if it is an odd hour of the day, we stay home. Doing similarly exciting and exacting stuff! The unsaid expectation is for me to come up with games that will occupy an ever so energetic mind.
Her most favourite game however is devoid of any crazy showmanship. It has the following procedures.
• Stick the left thumb up.
• Take a pen and with four markings, make a face.
• Do the same to the outstretched thumb of hers.
• She looks at my thumb and calls her name out. I look at her thumb and call my name out. So in a quick jiffy, her thumb transforms to ‘Papa’ and my thumb morphs to ‘Baby’!
The thumbs dance. They kiss. They chase. They tumble. They hold each other well. That is the game. In-between insane cackles and hysterical laughter that you could only think laughing gas had the power to produce.
I call it Twiddle Thumbs.
Yes. That’s that. That is the game. I am astounded beyond belief at a new mind operates and is easily excited by such a simple thing. But that’s the way it is and it does rather well too.
The other day, we stay up late. Sitting and chatting. Me & the missus. The daughter is fast asleep. We look into the moon and the stars that she was beckoning some time back. It’s rare that we get to chat up at all these days.
“What do you think we will leave behind for her?” asks the missus. This is like a scud missile that came from nowhere.
The coffee that I am sipping sputters out of my lips as I laugh. ‘You mean, something like a legacy?’, I ask. I haven’t thought about it. I have been engrossed in the joy of the present, that the future seems beyond outer space. Perpetually arraigned to the wilderness that is beyond imagination, requiring a laborious labyrinth of years to get there.
The reality of the years just swishing by quickly often strike me hard. Not thinking about the future is my way of dealing with it.
There is a slight tension in the air. After the missus has popped the legacy question. I think humour will defuse it. ‘I have nothing to declare I say. Except my writing’. I say. Remembering the famous Oscar Wilde remark to a customs official: ‘There is nothing for me to declare except my genius’
The missus jumps on it. “Writing?” She asks. Muted in the intonation of that singe word questions is this: “You-write-a-clutch-of- incoherent-blogs-not-Nobel-Prize-winning-epistles”.
Silence moves from a punctuation mark to become the mainstay of the conversation. “I don’t know”. I say.
Frankly I don’t. I nurture no desires of chasing pots of gold, packets of money and the ominous luxuries that the world offers. My desire revolves around the daughter learning to choose well when the choices present themselves every moment in life. If that happens, I would be a happy man. But ‘legacy’ I would leave her with, I haven’t the faintest clue.
I sip the last remains of the filter coffee.
“I don’t know what I’ll leave behind for her”, I begin. “But I can tell you, if at all I get to old age I hope to clutch with dear life a ton of memories. Of spending time with her. Of being present. And of course playing Twiddle Thumbs endlessly”.
The missus laughs. She thinks it’s a good answer. I am all chuffed. It’s not often that my answers pass muster as ‘reasonable’ with her. But beyond that, the answer seems to have answered some other unasked questions in my own mind as well.
In sometime we hit bed.
I realise that today, me and the daughter have played Twiddle Thumbs for an incredibly long period of time. And she sleeps like a log. I watch her sleep. It is then that the missus spots it: She is holding her playing thumb with her other palm. Almost as if caressing a baby.
The eyes that I drew on her thumb stick out and stare at me. And from the safety of her palm, those eyes seem to implore me to leave behind nothing but a bounty of memories.
My thumb twitches. I am barely conscious as my thumb kisser her thumb
There is peace in the world.
This is a replug from my post for Parentous.com