“Follow me” I say and walk upstairs only to find Ammu and Pattu already in my closet with my jewelry box open. I take it from them and fish out the delicate silver anklets. They run, the sinewy silver dangling from their fingers. “Wait!” I cry but they are downstairs before I can follow.
I sigh, put away the case and scan the room. Eight huge bags occupy one corner of the room. I feel happy, the sort of pleasure that comes from a day well spent. I lug a couple of bags down and sit down by the bench in my mud room. A faint whiff of cedar hits me as I open the chest. I fish out jackets. scarves, mismatched gloves, outgrown hats and a zillion tiny fleece jackets. I fold each remembering minutae as I put them away. It takes about fifteen minutes and the now empty chest looks organized.
The rasam bubbles merrily while the gherkins sizzle and fry in coconut oil. Ammu, Pattu and Laddu run around the house, the sounds of their golusu echoing and reverberating. I turn the gas down and follow them, the video on my phone capturing inane conversations and tinkling sounds.
Summer vacation officially starts today. While I emptied closets and stood tearful over clothes I will never fit into again, the kids were lost in a world of apps, online books and videos. I tell myself tomorrow will be a better day. Less screen time, more play, more mommy and daughters time but there is a part of me that whispers tomorrow will be no different.
It has been overwhelming, this yearly purge of stuff. Clothes mostly. They remind me of the two years that has flown past. I sort through 6 month clothes, 12 and 18 month clothes. The pinks and yellows reminds me of days when this little mite could not walk or run. The telltale stains on some of the onesies remind me how far she has come when it comes to food. The leggings and full sleeved shirts I fold away remind me of the school year with rushed mornings and frazzled evenings. The leggings and full sleeved teeshirts worn thin with use. I linger over each set I put away. Sometimes, it is about the people who gifted them.
Other times, it is about images frozen in time. That flash of yellow as Ammu ran, her backpack bobbing to catch the bus. The fuchsia as Pattu scootered in circles on our driveway. The stretchy maternity wear that is a relic from my pregnancy. I hold each piece close, fold and put them away. I see the dress pants, clothes I once wore to work. I look at the clothes with tags, the ones I brought when I was unaware of the humongous changes ahead. They have graced my closet for two years now, taunting me with the prospect of being able to get into them. Today, I put them away, realizing with clarity that day might never come. I feel relief that comes with the purge. A freedom to shape a different future.
All that remains now are the books. A pruning that has been a long time coming. I turn around in my chair and scan the shelves. Old favorites line the top shelf. Crowd pleasers, second hand books, one off impulse buys, thick volumes of Math and Science, MBA textbooks. I look long and hard at the titles. They remind me vaguely of things I should know. They remind me of alternate futures. I turn around, resolute that I will tackle them tomorrow.
I read and edit my submission for the final portfolio due in a couple of weeks. A collection of fiction and non-fiction I have worked on with my cohort over the past year. I do a final spell check, close my eyes, say a prayer and submit. With that, yet another thing that has been my focus for over a year is done. Eventually, I will know if I made a passing grade. The certificate will one day come in the mail but today marks the end in a significant way. The manuscript I have been working on calls to me. I desist knowing I am not ready yet. It will have to wait. All of summer perhaps.