I work, eyes narrowed with focus, brushing the silky locks to one side of her face. I make three parts and interleave each lock to make a braid. I tie it at the end with a band and look back to admire my handiwork. Pattu looks at me, innocence personified, as I hold her chin and step back before I start on the other side. Soon, two little girls walk off, hair in braids, with their tiny hands engulfed in Saathi’s huge ones towards the bus stop. I watch till they disappear from sight and swallow the lump that is stuck in my throat. My girls are achingly beautiful.
I go about my chores laddu perched on my hip. One hand clutches my tee-shirt even as the other is stuck in her mouth. We look a picture, she and I. She squeals with delight testing her vocal chords. I squeal back. We go back and forth till my throat hurts. I shush her and she looks at me mischief twinkling in her eyes. I crack my knuckles to ward off any evil eyes and go on to the next chore.
We walk back, the five of us. Saathi carries the school backpacks and sprints with the twins. Laddu and I walk slowly savoring the small pleasures. The evening sun, the light breeze, the nip in the air. The wholesomeness of it all.
I stand by the patio watching the girls run. Their wind lifts their hair. Their faces are awash in glee. There is something about the moment that screams freedom to me. Everything freezes. I watch mesmerized taking in minute details, the grass, the lighting, the stillness of the hour. The moment passes and the sounds fill my ears.
Some days more than others are an exercise in slowing down. In practicing mindfulness. In just being.