“Come and get me!” Ammani taunted as she stood a mere yards away from me, a white fabric frisbee in her hand. I sat panting after playing catch with Ammu and Pattu in the yard. “Am coming..” I yelled even as I heaved my heavy frame and went lumbering after her. I felt my tummy jiggle and the loose flesh move with the effort. I yanked the disc from her hand and flicked it with my wrist to send it sailing by the trees at the rear of the yard. Pattu ran as fast as her stubby legs could carry her returning triumphantly with her trophy.
I sat on the stone bench surrounding the patio trying to catch my breath and wondering when was the last time I had run with abandon. Run without being conscious of my body or my belly fat. I could not remember. Fifth grade perhaps?
The evening was immensely freeing. Even as Ammu and Pattu bent over to scratch bird poo from the bench with stones and leaves I resisted the urge to tell them off. I bit back as they bent over and picked twigs and clumps of dirt from the wet grass. As they stood holding the green wire mesh looking across the road at a puppy being taken for a walk, I quelled my fears about creepy crawlies and unknown slithering creatures that could lurk in places where my eyes could not see.
The evening was lesson I needed learning. Each day as I threaten them with the dark and bugs of different kids, I realize I am moulding them to be the kind of person I don’t want to be. I watch as a friends child fearlessly pick up bugs and shudder at the thought of it while hoping Ammu and Pattu will grow up to be what I am not. Even as I yell and stop them from playing in the dirt and the dark, a part of me wonders what is it that I am scared of.
Raising Ammu and Pattu is an exercise for me in letting go. Letting go of my fears. Letting go of my expectations. Letting go of stereotypes and preconceived notions.
As I wash their hands and change their clothes, I whisper in their ears. “You are bright. You are beautiful. You are strong. You will be bold.”
“Bold and Beautiful” pattu repeats after me before she runs off to follow Ammu. I stand and thank the universe for a chance to do over.