Guess what I found today! Remember the bunch of old journals I insisted on carrying with me to Boston, even though I had to leave behind the new coat I bought specifically to wear here? Well, this was one of those long, long, long afternoons with nothing to do… Oh well, of course there was the paper to write and the vacuum and the dishes and the laundry to do alright, but you know what I mean. I was flipping through one of the oldest journals (the tacky pink one with a weird green bunny on it, remember?) and I found this to-do list I had made when I was five! Maa, did you ever see this? I have absolutely no memory of making it! I am so excited that I want to pick up the phone and call you right away, but then, you would be asleep.
I am laughing and crying. Did we do any of these things together, Maa? I do remember I used to hate it that you worked so much. See, I wrote No Work. I just wanted you to be with me all the time.
I rummaged some more and found the yellow journal with little orange flowers from when I was 15 and found another to-do list.
I do vaguely remember making this. Maa, it bothers me a little that there are so few tick marks. Did we run out of time to do everything? Was there something more important that needed to be done?
Maa, do you still work so hard? Do you still make a to-do in your mind for the next day before going to bed every night? Do you still miss your serials because you have to do your dusting?
Let go a little, Maa. Just let go. It’s okay for things to not be perfect. It’s okay if the bedsheet is creased. Believe me, Dad would never notice in a hundred years. Nobody would mind if you serve cereals for lunch, as long as you don’t have worry lines on your forehead.
You know what, Maa, I now realize how much I have troubled you through the years. I remember how you would slog for hours to make nutritious meals for me and all I would do was turn up my nose at them. I think till I was ten, most of the calories I needed to thrive came from chocolates and that sticky mixed fruit jam; and you spent those ten years of your life begging me to eat.
I remember my teenage years, crazy, hormonal. A rebel without a cause. I have made you cry in the shower (yes, I heard), bang your head against the wall in frustration and even scream at me words I know you never meant. I wish I could go back in time and change all that, Maa, be a little more understanding, the perfect daughter you always wanted. I am glad we are friends now, Maa. But then again, think. Would you really have had it any other way?
You know, Maa, here in the States, this is Why So Serious? month, and everybody is celebrating. It’s simple really. All you have to do is let go of something you are too serious about. My neighbor next door, Natalie, stopped wiping her toddler son’s two million toys with disinfectant every day. And guess what, the brat is still living! And David across the street quit his 1 billion hours/ week lawyer’s job to finish his dissertation he left off years ago. He says he can’t afford the Alaska cruise with his family any more, but I have never seen anyone looking so happy to not be going for a cruise!
Gurpreet’s children still tell her all about their day at school in (much too) intricate detail at the dinner table, even though the menu is now canned tuna or baked beans instead of a three-course meal every day. Julie, of course, chose not to celebrate. She thinks it’s a disgusting idea invented by lazy people. I always get a pedicure done before I even think of setting foot on her spotless cream carpet. And speaking of which, I traded mine for a gray one.
Hey, Maa, I just had a fabulous idea. Why don’t we celebrate too – you and me – the next time I see you? Let me quickly make up a to-do list for us, what say?
- Tell me about the early days of your marriage. Do you remember the exact moment when you realized you had fallen in love with Papa, the stranger you married?
2. Spend a night at a five-star hotel. Anywhere. Even if it’s next door to home. Let’s order room service all the time, sit on the balcony sipping coffee and watch other people making our bed.
3. Confess. Tell me about the worst thing you have done in life. Or the most embarrassing one. Something you never told anyone. Trust me, Maa, you couldn’t have done anything that could make you any less perfect. Okay, here is a confession from me right here. Remember when I was 16 and had crashed a wedding with my friends? And you were so angry! You had said I was in bad company and my friends were dragging me into doing utterly stupid things. Well, actually Maa, it was my idea to begin with. It was also the most fun I have ever had in life. You know, we still talk about it and laugh, after all these years. But I would never forgive Mr. Saxena for telling you. There were at least 50 weddings in the city that night and he had to be in this one! I also wish I could have told you earlier. But you were so angry and I was scared.
4. Sing. You are a trained classical singer! Why don’t you sing any more, Maa? I want you to sing to me, one song after the other. And then, we will sing together. All night.
5. Eat pizza for breakfast. Eat pizza for lunch. Eat pizza for dinner. Trust me, it’s not that bad. Yes, as you say, it is just some things on bread. But it’s good. And you don’t have to cook.
6. Plant a tree.
7. Talk about Rohan.
8. Talk about Eric.
9. Talk about Rupak.
10. Talk. Just talk.
11. Braid each other’s hair.
12. Bake a cake.
13. Look at old family albums and tell me about everyone.
14. Go to Goa and collect lots of seashells.
15. Read my journals together.
16. Spend a day at the spa.
17. Go shopping!
18. No work.
P.S. There is no such thing as Why So Serious? month. I made it up. But we can still celebrate, can’t we? Just can’t wait to see you. Seriously.
I love you Maa.
Your little girl.