I woke to the shrill sound of the alarm going off at 5:00 AM. Saathi groaned and suggested snoozing another half hour. I figured it would not hurt and reset the alarm to 5:30 to catch a few more winks of sleep. The next time it beeped, I was up with razor-sharp focus. The next two hours sped past in a manic rush. We brushed, drank milk, ran around the house, ate breakfast, changed into uniforms and looked at the clock. A good twenty minutes before the bus would be here.
We caught our breaths, slowed down, took the time to pray, seek blessings from Amma and took a hundred pictures to document the momentous day. As we stepped out of the garage, the kids ran, their backpacks moving up and down as their stubby legs carried their weight and moved. Their golden hair bounced and glinted in the morning sun. We stood, mom and daughters near the stop sign that served as the bus stop a few doors down from our home. The euphoria wore away as the sun climbed higher in the sky. Minutes ticked and faces fell.
I uploaded pictures on social media when a shriek heralded the arrival of the school bus. The mood was celebratory as the bus gracefully slid to a stop before us. The doors swung open and the girls dragged their backpacks with them on the steps. Even as I clicked a picture, our eyes met and the moment passed. Seconds later, the door closed and just like that, the kids were off to brave a new world.
The tears came, fast, furious. Saathi held me as I walked back, the sobs subsiding into wet eyes.
The day wore on and as the clock ticked to arrival time, I walked back happiness in my step this time. The bus came, discharged its tiny passengers and off it went.
“Fantastic!” chorused the twins as I asked them about school. They hopped, skipped and jumped their way home while I lagged behind carrying two backpacks and a heart that threatened to burst with pride.