The packages come in the mail, staggered over a few days. Clothes lie heaped on the table in the eat-in kitchen. I have Ammu and Pattu wear each piece scanning critically for a ‘passable’ fit. I have learned the hard way to order sizes they can grow into. Saathi stands by the kitchen island sorting through the postal mail.
“Dada! Look at me!”
The twins prance around in their new rompers. He nods appreciatively and gives them a thumbs up. The process continues till we hit the dresses. He pauses, his brows furrowing, as if considering how to break it to me softly.
“The arm hole is too large” or “The fit around the chest is not quite right”
I look up visibly annoyed. I see what he is saying but feel it would be OK as they grow. He would have none of it. They go on the return pile.
Another day. Dinner time. All of us crowded around the table. The meal is a variation on our regular take out. I look, eyebrows raised. He pleads guilty. “The children asked.” I smile indulgently and let go.
A memory from my childhood jiggles itself to the forefront of my consciousness. My siblings and I at a restaurant with our parents. I order a slew of things. Amma gives me “the” look. Appa waves his hand dismissively and murmurs “Let them have what they want”.
As a parent now with the responsibility that comes with the role, I have a deeper appreciation of those who have walked before us. Irritants from years ago are revisited and new meanings plumbed. Being the sole breadwinner must have had its stresses. I look back on the days and realize we have never known want. Food, clothing and shelter. We have always had plenty. Perhaps, appa’s biggest legacy is that he shielded us from all of the hard work that went into providing for us. He made it seem easy.
I look at Saathi and remember the discussions we have had surrounding my staying home to raise our brood. Life has come full circle. Our children will live the best life we can provide. One day perhaps they will look back and reminiscence about how easy it all seemed.
To my father and the father to my girls. I love you and appreciate everything you did and do.