Today is International Happiness Day and International Story-Telling Day.
And I’m very happy, so I’m going to tell you a story.
I’m happy because my parents are coming back home tonight after 15 long days, relieving me of my home-alone stint. The story I’m going to tell you, is… well, about my home-alone stint.
My mum and dad went on a North-East trip two weeks ago, leaving me home alone for the first time in my life. “Big deal,” I thought, about managing the house by myself. And that’s exactly what it was – a big deal.
Three bedrooms, two living rooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, two balconies, a terrace. It’s not easy to manage such a big house all alone, especially if you’re into cleanliness.
Within 24 hours, I learnt of all the chores my parents do everyday, and I learnt it the hard way. Nevertheless, I enjoyed everything I did – be it waking up at 6 am to fill up the filter with drinking water, or dashing about the house to sweep, mop, heat milk, make rice, make rasam, make breakfast, pack lunch, do snaana, drink milk and rush to office in the morning.
It was actually exhilarating! I felt responsible. I felt like without me, the world couldn’t go on. That’s always a great feeling.
I was so exhausted by the end of the day that I automatically knocked out at 11 pm and woke up at 7 am. Of course, there was that ten minute power nap in office too.
Through the course of this home-alone stint, I learnt a lot about myself and my parents.
For instance, I learnt that I’m a slightly traditional person. There was a festival day when they were away. We have always celebrated that festival at home, wherein you tie a yellow thread around your neck to ask God or thank God for a good husband. I found the yellow thread, said my prayers and was about to put on the thread when I remembered my mom telling me years ago that someone older has to tie it. Immediately, I ran to the neighbour’s house and asked Prerana’s mom to tie it. I lit the lamp every evening and lit an agarbatti. I’m not pious or anything. Just doing all this made me feel complete, like my parents were still at home and doing the things they’d do everyday.
Not only that, I watered the doorway and decorated the entrance with rangoli every day. I googled new rangoli designs and squatted outside my house, looked into my phone. I drew with intense concentration. If I missed one dot, the whole design would be messed up. While drawing with chalk is simple, not so much drawing with rangoli powder. I don’t know how and when I learnt it, but my mother has somehow silently passed on her talent to me.
That’s kind of what this post is about – how my mother has been a silent hero in my life. Without her presence, I don’t think I’d survive even a day. I’ve always been openly awed by my dad and have written blog posts about him and posted pictures of him being a cool dude. Mostly because he likes all that. But all along, my mom has been there by his side and by mine, teaching us both a good way to live, instilling in us a good lifestyle – when it comes to food, clothing, daily life, manners, everything. And she has been completely subtle about it. She is the real Wonder Woman.
Without her guidance over the past 24 years, I don’t know how I’d have survived these 15 days. I’m proud to say that I didn’t order food even once when my parents were away. I made it a point to make breakfast and lunch and dinner. I learnt how to cook a few basic things. I made rice and rasam (something no one in the family can live without). I think a little credit goes to my boss, who over a random conversation, advised me not to go to my neighbour’s house everyday to eat. “Deny their offer. Cook at home. See how much you learn and how good you feel,” he had said. I did just that.
I learnt from scratch how to make rice, rasam, aalu-jeera sabzi, pudina chutney for sandwich and salad, pasta salad, etc. I was in such a bad state before this that I didn’t know which dal was supposed to go into the rasam. I still don’t know which dal is called what and when people told me to put toor dal in rasam, all I did was blink stupidly.
Now, I’m happy that I can make yummy rasam. I even got a compliment saying, “It tastes exactly like your mom’s rasam!” That was the best feeling ever. Everyone knows that my mom makes the best rasam!
But I wasn’t such a goody goody kid also. I did have some rebellious fun. I couldn’t let 15 home-alone days ago to waste! There was a 1522 evening and an Ice and Spice evening when I wasn’t bogged down with too much work. At Ice and Spice, I really indulged in some crazy food. Ah the thought of that Brownie Points dessert is still sending me to heaven!
Anyway, apart from the food, there was still a lot to be done. I had to sweep, mop, etc. In between, a coconut tree branch fell into my balcony. That required a lot of cleaning. And I hadn’t realised just how many plants we have in our house. On the terrace, in amma’s balcony, in paati’s balcony, beside the house, outside the house, behind the house. My my! I had expected some rainfall so I wouldn’t have to water all these plants but the rain god wasn’t on my side. (What’d I do to you Indra?) It was scathing hot everyday and I couldn’t forgo the plant-watering. However, I realised that there were 81 flowers on my terrace one evening! They’re all so beautiful. So I felt happy that I was making them grow.
After plants come animals. Puppy and the fishies. I had to feed them both everyday, give fishies oxygen, buy eggs for Puppy, clean her bowl. My God! Going back in time and thinking about it is making me widen my eyes at how much I did. I even made sure that the house was spotless by keeping it clean. And I had to wash clothes. Phew! Bravo Swat! You’re awesome.
But it was really really fun doing everything. I loved being on my toes and still making time to read and write a bit. I even got a JustBooks account on one of those 15 days. I brought my friends over on a couple of days and we chatted away till 3 am. Komal and Nisha were awesome enough to make aalu paratha for me for dinner. I literally let my guests take over the kitchen and cook for me. Haha!
I like how I never really felt alone. My friends constantly popped in and out. Pupsicle and Piccolo were always around. Every time I needed to talk, I called them and they’d listen and even respond emotively. They’re two very intelligent doggies, who know that they should agree with everything I say. I love my doggies. : )
But at the end of the day, my favourite part of it was going to Uttara’s house and eating her ajji‘s God-level varan bath (parapu mammu, or, Sudarshan, if you’re reading this, purp mammu). Varan bath with goad loncha (sweet lemon pickle) is the best food ever (only if it’s made in Uttara’s house). It made me do my happy dance with every bite.
Anyway, I’m glad I had these 15 days to live alone and figure out life. I am now resolved to help my mom and dad in daily chores. I definitely can’t be the super woman that my mom is, but hopefully, someday, I’ll be at least half like her.
Thank you amma, for making me who I am today. I like to believe I’m a little piece of you – judging by my likes – love for literature, trees and nature, curd rice, maavinkai and generally a tasteful, dignified approach to everything – and dislikes – garlic, meat, animal haters, smelly people. Haha! (We don’t really dislike many things.) I love you for giving me this happy outlook in life, for making me enjoy every little thing I do – be it doing potty or watering plants or riding my bike with my hair down or drinking water from streams when we’re on a tour somewhere.
And one final thank you for helping me manage the house for 15 days, without being there but somehow being there.
You’re a champ, mummy! : )