I swing with Laddu on my hip swaying to the upbeat tempo of Mental Manadhil. She shrieks with laughter as I do. We circle in the tiny space between the stove and the kitchen island. As I turn, I notice the okra smoking on the stove. I rush to turn the heat down and salvage the rest of it. The song changes to a melodious Maula wa sallim. I croon along and glide across the room to where Ammu and Pattu sit on the steps doing their own thing, their feet tapping in time to the music. I kiss them on top of their heads and head back to the kitchen.
An hour later, sitting on the recliner with Laddu on my lap, my mind goes back a few decades. I wonder if this is the future I had imagined back then. Probably not I figure. Intrigued by the images that snuck in as I went down memory lane, I linger, fixating on the image I thought I would morph into growing up.
Hair in a single braid snaking down my back. A modest shalwar or saree lined with creases from the never-ending domestic chores. Worry lines, exhaustion writ on my face.
I turn the image back and forth in my head. Why did I as a child imagine my future to be staid and bereft of joy? As a child, did I only notice how weighed down by responsibility adults were? Or were the unguarded, happy moments played out away from the prying eyes of children around? I will never know.
I look at the children around me. Will they look back on these days at a mom who sang loudly and often, a mom who got down and danced even if she had two left feet and imagine their future filled with song and dance? Is this part of a legacy I am handing down? Time will tell.
In the meanwhile, I will do well to remember that this is perhaps one version of the future that my children will envision.