I slid my growing torso in the seat, adjusted the mirrors, flashed a quick grin at the two imps in the back seat before I opened the garage door and eased the car out. It was one of those rare days when the sunlight hits your eyes before you register the cold. I turned the radio on and the song ‘Let her go‘ was playing. I hummed along as I navigated lights and turns. The backseat was rather quiet. All I could hear was the bead necklace being passed from twin to twin. Waiting for the song to end, I turned the music off and peeked at the rear view. Pattu looked seriously out the window while Ammu counted the beads in her hand.
“Pattu, am sorry I scolded you this morning. Will you forgive me?”. I queried as my eyes zoned into hers while she processed what I was asking. Her head nodded before she actually replied.
“Yes mommy. I forgive you.” She enunciated each word for me.
I went on to explain why my irrational behavior was unwarranted but she seemed lost in the world flying past her already. Ammu spoke up.
“I forgive you too Mommy.”
I broke into a smile and asked her why and we kept the conversation going till we reached their school. Piling out of the car with lunch boxes and water bottles in hand, I herded them to the big play room where a couple of teachers kept an eye on students till the academics started. Pattu ran off to play while Ammu stuck close to me. Stuffing the lunch bag into an already crowded fridge, I was surprised to see Ammu hugging my leg. Detaching myself, I took her tiny hand in mine and we made our way to her class. Passing the bathroom, she excused herself as I went on to her class. Placing her coat in her cubby, I stopped to chat with her teachers. Conversation veered from Ammu to the baby that is due and I left the class in a glow that can only come from compliments and genuine wishes. Pattu found me as I left the class. I gave her a hug and my eyes scanned for Ammu. No one was in the washroom.
I heard her before I saw her. Sniffling and downcast, she stood by another door looking forlorn. I dropped to my knees and gathered her. Her eyes looked reddish from wiping away tears. She hugged me back with a ferocity that surprised me.
“Did someone hurt you?” I asked.
She looked at me a while before she shook her head.
“What happened?” I persisted.
“I missed you. I looked for you everywhere.” she said, big fat tears spilling from those trusting eyes.
We held each other for a bit and rocked. Words seeming redundant in what was a charged emotional moment. After what seemed eternity, I pulled back and wiped her face. Holding her face in my hands, I assured her that I had not gone anywhere. I was talking to her teacher. A smile broke through the tears and she helped me get up. We walked mother and daughter back to the front door before she waved bye and I left the building.
I sat in the car for a while after her blue tee-shirt disappeared in the mass of children. Easing out gently, I turned the radio back on to mask the unrest in my heart.