The cold is uncomfortable. The kids shuffle along looking for their cozy slippers long buried under a mountain of fleece and wool. I long for a sweater but hold out hope for a return to warmth. The rain does not help. Incessant, drab, the drip, drip of the water is grating on my nerves.
I am in the study, my foot encased in thick socks, replying to emails. Saathi’s voice emanates from the living room. He is reading Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the children. I type in half sentences, pause and follow along. His reading style is so different from mine. I plunge into a story, reading fast, my voice modulating up and down. I rarely pause to explain or check if the children are as invested in the story as I am. He reads a sentence, pouring his all into it. He stops, explains unfamiliar words, translates to Tamil on occasion and continues. Reading with Appa is an interactive experience for the children.
Tomorrow is his birthday. Most years I am filled with energy. I hide away gifts, I write notes to be left under pillows and in random spots through the house. I plan. I sometimes bake. On occasion, I have even thrown surprise parties. Over the years, the impulse has toned down, mostly because he reiterates that he hates being the center of attention. I bought a gift a week ago and promptly handed it over sans wrapping and days ahead of his birthday. I usually write birthday posts on the blog, like this one. This year it feels like I have said it all.
I know I am following his lead but it grates on me. I walk around with a chip on my shoulder. I wish I were planning a party. I wish I had a beautifully wrapped gift to wake him up with. I wish we had a cake and candles and people singing loudly. I wish so deeply that I sigh audibly. I take a deep breath and let go.
The story telling session is drawing to the end. Everybody goes on to live happily ever after and I take my cue. Hopefully, the children will draw pictures for him tonight or early tomorrow. I will make an effort to cook his favorite foods. We will gather around him and sing off key and loudly. We will serenade our king the best we can and know we are living our happily ever after.
The best gifts are the ones the person asks for right? Right?
Happy birthday Saathi!