You sit up next to me, your fingers prying my mouth open. I open one eye, not yet ready to wake. I feign sleep and turn around. I feel your chubby hands pulling my hair. Unable to resist your overtures, I push the covers away and sit up. You hold my shoulder and pull yourself up. We are eye level now. We stop and stare for a few seconds before you smile and I smile too. Scooping you up, I make my way downstairs for our evening ritual of tea for me and banana for you. With each bite of the fruit, I watch you chew and look around with interest. Snack done, I leave you on the ground where you express token resistance by pulling at the leg of my pj’s and then make your way to the pantry where an exciting world beckons.
The door opens and your dad calls out. You spare a passing glance as you scoot to the door, your joy evident in the speed with which you move. Dad and daughter descend into rapturous expressions of love at which I smile indulgently. I am relieved that you are now secure enough to explore worlds that do not feature me in them.
Your sisters swoop down, drawn like moths to fire. They tousle your head, pull your chunky legs and kiss and squeeze till you squeal. I watch with trepidation. Your dad watches, happiness radiating from him at the sight of all his daughters playing together. I hear you cry and I am quick to take Pattu to task. “I only took the keys away so she would not hurt herself” says she and I am overcome with remorse. I gather the three of you to me knowing you will be there for each other long past my time.
I busy myself at the stove, glancing every few seconds to make sure you are not in danger. My thoughts drift pleasantly to how much has changed in the one year since you were born. From a tiny bundle in my hand to a cooing baby in your activity mat. From a smiling baby to an active toddler. Your growth has been punctuated by milestones. Yesterday you learned to climb the stairs. All of us, your father, your sisters and I cheered you on as you gamely soldiered on till you reached the second level. Four pairs of hands stood ready to catch you if you slipped. We erupted into noisy cheers when you made it. You looked at us baffled by all the adulation.
It amazes me to realize how much you can communicate being non verbal. The emphatic shaking of the head to denote displeasure. The vigorous shaking of hands and legs to indicate you are happy. Raised hands to signal you want to be carried. A low growl to show you want to eat what your sisters are eating. The gurgling laughter as you anticipate being tickled. The determination on your face as you pursue the toy you have trouble grasping in your little hands. The dexterity with which you pick each rice cereal and deliver it to your mouth. Every waking moment is a conversation. A teaching moment. For me.
You are inquisitive. You are smart. You are happy. You know what you want. You are tenacious. You are vociferous.
You bring joy. You light up my world. You complete me.
As you turn ONE, I wish for health and happiness, love and peace to surround you. I wish you all the joy you have blessed me with.
Happy Birthday Laddu!