The house is quiet. Saathi is clacking away at his keyboard at our kitchen island. I am tempted to go find what the girls are up to. Instead, I find a pair of socks, wear my sneakers and head out for a walk.
It is fall weather. The sidewalk all around the community I live in is littered with brown leaves now soggy with the rain we have had. I step over puddles, keep an eye out for unleashed dogs and let my mind take over. I walk on autopilot, up and down mild slopes. I think about all the writing I could have done but have not. I think about the documentary and the kind of limbo that surrounds it. I think about my twins and their school. I think about Laddu and her recent illness. I think about all the walks Saathi and I will one day talk when the children are grown and flown.
The garage feels muggy after the crisp air outside. I enter the house that is shrouded in silence and alarm bells go off. I walk past Saathi, upstairs to find a makeshift tent. Suitcases arranged to form walls, blankets of all sizes, colors, and uses are draped to form a roof and bottom. Right in the middle Laddu lies on a little pillow and Ammu lies next to her, her arms protective of her sister. Pattu arranges their pose, steps back, admires her handiwork and smiles to herself.
I watch all of this tenderness and the bizarre arrangement in front of me. I take pictures instinctively and go wash up. I walk down without comment. I am tempted to talk about it to Saathi but move on to the study knowing he will only see the beauty in sisters playing together. I see the beauty too I tell myself but I see the chaos first. I decide to let it be until the evening and turn to social media.
Later in the day, I systematically disassemble their carefully constructed tent. Two children help while the other mopes. I hear sounds of the US Open from below. I set out mugs of warm coffee and milk for the kids, dole out snacks and retire to my seat. I look at the worn-out man watching tennis and wonder why our views differ.
Is it because I have tasked myself as the keeper of order? Is it because I grew up following rules and any aberration jars at me? Or is it simply that I cannot see the beauty amid the chaos? I let myself relax and wonder what it would take for me to go about unseeing, ignoring unmade beds, blocks of every color strewn through the house, bits of paper clippings from the kids’ endless projects, glue stains and glitter in the cracks on the floor?
Probably nothing, it must be my eyes after all.