She waves the book in her hand as I look quizically. My maternal instincts are screaming something is off.
“Are you taking the iPad with you?” I ask, eyes scanning for evidence. She holds out her hands which hold the hard bound copy of Charlotte’s Web. I smile, giving in. She marches upstairs and I hear the door slam. I wince and turn my attention to the crisping uthappam on the stove. The specks of green chiles and golden chunks of ginger glisten with the ghee coating them.
Ammu traipses past me saying something about searching for a dosa book downstairs. She goes followed by the soft click of the basement door. Laddu ambles around the kitchen opening and closing various cabinet doors. Amma is chopping beetroot muttering suspiciously under her breath. I lean in and hear her curse the bleeding beetroots and long for the fragant veggies of the homeland.
I am midway through my breakfast when I decide I cannot heed my instincts anymore. Leaving a half eaten uthappam, I wash my hands and walk upstairs quietly. The locked door is disturbing. I walk over to Ammu’s room and notice the connecting door closed as well.
Unlocking, I step inside to see a sweet little girl, her hair falling in waves over her face absorbed in her book. I feel mortified and lean in to kiss her. She looks up sweetly.
“Why did you lock the door sweetum?” I ask. “Oh! I did not want to be disturbed,” she replies without missing a beat. I turn to go when her mussed up blanket calls to me. I straighten it and by habit plump her pillow. The silver of the iPad glints below.
An hour later I am sitting in the basement watching the kids play. My minds replays the morning over and over. I am not sure what was disturbing. That she is old enough to do what she did or the nonchalance with which she answered. A rational part of me accepts this is inevitable. My mind throws up instances of me telling the bus conductor I had a pass and pocketing the money in fourth grade. I know these are teachable moments. Yet, I am strangely silent. I am not sure how to go about teaching this seven year old in front of me, life lessons.
I give pause, writing instead, hoping the answer will come to me.