Laddu is seated at the island, her stubby legs swinging off the tall chair as she watches her sisters come in from school, wash up and take their seats. It is our daily ritual. The kids at the island while I buzz about preparing coffee, setting out snacks and going through their school bags.
My head is bent as I note that there is a test tomorrow. I am mildly annoyed that they have tests at practically the tail end of the year. I sign with a flourish and move on to Pattu’s accordion file.
“Pattu, Pattu” Laddu calls out, her voice insistent with need. I half expect the older sister to tune her out like she does most days. Instead I hear her voice, a mixture of tenderness and care as she replies to her.
“My friend S did not play with me” Laddu complains. I only hear her voice but I can picture her face all scrunched and serious with pent-up angst. I am afraid to lift my head or even move for fear of missing out on the conversation. My patience is rewarded as I hear Pattu talk to her.
“Who was S playing with? Are those girls your friends too? Maybe S wanted to play with other people too. Did any other kid play with you?”
Laddu waits a bit and answers in the affirmative and then adds at the end “I did what you asked me to do last time.” This time I lift my eyes and watch as Pattu sagely nods her head.
Just when I think the exchange is over, Laddu pipes up “JP said blah blah to me…”
I watch again fascinated as Ammu and Pattu answer her together. Just ignore and walk the fancy walk away. Ammu demonstrates to her little sister. A jut of the jaw, a swing of the hip and oodles of attitude as she sashays to where I stand.
The conversation veers off into other directions and I finish packing away and putting their bags aside. My heart is churning with feelings I cannot name. A mixture of pride and happiness, a feeling of contentment knowing my children will be okay long past my time. Most of all, I am overcome with emotion at a glimpse of what future evenings at my kitchen island will look like. Sisters bonding over friends and boys, sisters talking about college and careers, sisters sharing grooming tips, sisters being sisters.