She stands in her batik printed dress, the silky fabric clinging to her body as she strikes a pose for me. I click and I am taken aback by the young woman staring back at me in the photo. I turn the phone off and suggest that she wear a Capri pant underneath.
Year over year I have been tracking my children’s growth as their birthday’s come around. This year, the celebration was muted, overshadowed by losing their sole grandfather. Amid the grief, we managed a cake, an off-key rendition of the birthday song and toys from the local store.
Pattu has grown literally and figuratively. She stands an inch taller than her twin, her features rounded and her hair brushing the top of her shoulders. She loves dresses. She loves to preen in front of the mirror. You can catch her humming under her breath as she focuses on the things she loves. She has taken to books, often reading in bed. She wakes early, helps me unload the dishwasher, bestows unexpected hugs on me and writes. She writes to process her emotions. She writes to express love. She writes because she enjoys writing. Often I come upon her sprawled on the sofa, her legs swinging up and down, her face a picture of concentration as she writes in cursive. “How do you spell…” is her refrain
She straddles that boundary between being a little girl and big girl with ease. She is sometimes too cool, too old to play with Laddu. Yet, she sits behind Laddu watching nursery rhymes when it is time for her to go to school. She understands sarcasm. She tries out unfamiliar words pestering me for meanings. She stands by my shoulder as I write reading at the same pace I type.
This little girl of mine has been a surprise bloomer in this past year. She is my dark horse, pulling ahead when I least expect her to.
Ammu, on the other hand, has been predictable. She is her quirky, funny self. She talks to herself. She plays by herself. She loves her Barbie dolls. She opts for capris over dresses. She loves her chutneys. She still wants to be a mom when she grows up. She is my sweet, wild child, reading when she thinks no one is looking. She struggles with her diffidence, proclaiming she is not good enough and beaming when I tell her she is. She smiles and the room lights up. She hops two steps at a time, she walks along the rim of the sofa. She is often seen upside down bending her body with ease.
She draws. She draws on scraps of paper. She draws on clear white sheets. She draws like it is the only way she can communicate. Her pictures are expressive, the eyes large and evocative. She colors them with bright colors. She labels them. She channels all of herself through her pictures and she looks at my face, eye to eye as I look at her drawing, willing me to tell her she is good. She IS good, and that cheers her immensely.
This little child of mine will one day rule the world only because she does not know her strength.