It is raining, a miserable grey day punctuated with bouts of soggy wet rain, the kind that does not let up and instead drips all day filling the air with the indescribable smell of things disintegrating and returning to its elemental forms.
The alarm goes off and I hit the pause button on the episodes of Grey’s Anatomy I am binge watching on the tiny screen of my phone. Laddu stirs beside me. I haul her downstairs and make myself a hot cup of coffee. Laddu is on the high chair, her milk and cookie in front of her. The front window blinds are up and I watch the school bus go past our home. I open the garage and warm up glasses of milk for the wet kids who will troop in a little past four.
I leave my empty coffee cup in the sink and fill it with water. I saunter over to the window and peer out. The roads are empty. Not a child is in sight. I press my nose against the window and see fluorescent blue and pink jackets in the distance. The amble along, stopping at mailboxes, inspecting wayside trees, bending to watch worms inch their way along the pavement. They speak in a tongue I can’t understand, bound by ties that started in the womb. I watch as they take their time making their way home. Instead of lingering like I always do, I walk back to the kitchen and busy myself with setting out snacks.
Over the past two years, I have watched this ritual with interest, frustration and occasional anger. I have asked Saathi over dinner if he understood why they did not run home like the other kids do. Each day I stand near the window watching them catching the wind in their umbrellas, dragging jackets on the sidewalk, squatting to catch dandelion wisps. Each day I stand willing them to make it home faster so they can get to their snack faster, get started on homework faster, have a shower quicker and go to bed sooner.
Somedays like today it hits me that they are doing the very same things I exhort myself to do. They stand and stare. They understand the magic of watching worms, of picking dry leaves and bird feathers from the grass. They still are connected to the magic that is earth and life and all the things I take for granted. Even when it is grey and foggy and miserable, they find things to buoy them up. The laugh and play and get muddy.
It hits me that they will be OK. They may not run home as soon as they get off the bus. They may not be doing multiplication with the rest of their class. They may not be quite what their peers are. They may not get all the jokes that their friends make. They may not understand nuance or sarcasm. They may not learn to mask their emotions. They may not be popular or have a following. But they will be okay.
They will be okay because they are at home wherever they are.