“Kiss!” I demand pointing to my cheek. Laddu jabs my cheek with her index finger and repeats after me. “Kiss” she says her eyes twinkling, shaking her head as she runs away. I scoop her in my arms, twirl and rain kisses on her face. She refuses to succumb to my exhortation. I let her go and turn to my laptop. I do this at regular intervals all through the day. In the kitchen before her meal, on the sofa in the mid morning hours when there is little else to do, in the afternoon hours when sleep envelops both of us, in the evening just before Ammu and Pattu return from school, in the night after dinner and before bed.
I am persistent. She is adamant.
I put her down for a nap and grab a bottle of water before I write. My eyes fall on a bunch of overripe bananas. I weigh the options. Bake now before kids get home or bake with them. The idea of baking in solitude is appealing. I shelve working on the novel for sifting, sieving and mixing. Pouring the batter into the greased tray, I shove the pan into the oven and clear up. The mixing bowl with cake batter is tempting. I dip and lick and acutely feel the absence of my children. There is so much to be said about jostling for a share of leftover cake batter. I leave the pan in the sink and walk away.
Sitting at my desk, I doodle on the notebook in front of me. I am supposed to be outlining. I am supposed to be working on my chapter outline. Yet, my mind strays. I think of Ammu, Pattu and Laddu. I think of the ways in which they have entwined themselves in every part of my wakefulness. Parenting is all consuming. An exhausting all or nothing effort, filled with self doubts and moments of clarity.
I hark back to the morning when I tried to teach love. “I love you” I said loudly each time I placed a smacking kiss on Laddu’s dewy cheeks. “I love you” said Ammu as she stepped out of the shower last evening and pressed her lips to my forehead. “I love you” murmured Pattu in the throes of sleep as I tucked her comforter around her one night this past week. Love thrums in the air that surrounds me.
I refresh my email and a bolded entry pops up. “Not a good fit for us at the current time” the editor says of my last submission to their webzine. I shrug and file it away. I look around and wonder what it is that I am doing with my life. Indecision plagues me as I debate if I should look for paid work. I half heartedly look at open positions knowing it does not excite me. The baby monitor comes awake and a clear baby voice says: “I love you”.
The universe it seems, conspires to send me messages.