Little hearts


It is mid-afternoon, and I stand on my balcony looking at the world outside. The leaves on the trees below sway gently with the breeze. The leaves glow on and off as they catch the sun’s rays and throw them back at the world.

The birds are busy. Pigeons are lined up on the ledge of one of the buildings – gossiping; a family of golden orioles flits from one tree to another.

I haven’t stepped out of home in a while, except for the odd runs to the supermarket. I soak-in the quiet.

The spell is broken, when I hear my son asking me for something from my wallet. I reluctantly head back in.

I have shifted to a smaller wallet these days, as I hardly go out. This wallet just holds my cards and a little cash. But what my son wants is from my bigger wallet – a wallet that is a microcosm of a time when I used to go out often – to meet friends, to shop or to eat out with family.

I sigh. I open my wardrobe and pull out the handbag which holds the old wallet. For some strange reason, the wallet’s zip seems to be stuck. I tug it this way and that, wondering what is obstructing its movement.

I am finally able to open the wallet. I smile in a sudden burst of joy. Inside the wallet are two tiny plastic hearts. Memories come rushing in.

It was another hot afternoon, many months ago. My daughter and I were on an afternoon shopping marathon. The same trees glistened and swayed, as we walked from one mall to another, sweating profusely but still filled with a sense of purpose – a purpose driven by the joys of retail therapy. When we had had enough, we sat down in a roadside cafe to have cups of cold coffee.

On the top of each of our cups was this tiny little heart. A little, cute, red dollop of love. To me, those hearts captured perfectly the special love between my daughter and me, and all the fun memories of a wonderful afternoon spent together. I remember taking those heart-toppers and putting them away in my wallet.

And now, as the afternoon sun moves across the sky, I look at the hearts and feel a sudden rush of love.

Amma


After marriage and kids, rare indeed are the opportunities for one to spend quality time with one’s mom, especially if both of you live in different cities.

I’ve suddenly got this opportunity to make a dashing visit to my mom’s place, at the end of a long, busy day.

It is past 11 pm when I reach. I hear my mom’s cheerful voice the moment I ring the calling bell.

I am enveloped in a huge mom-hug. And, as we chatter away, trying to catch up on all news, she walks into the kitchen and comes back with a hot cup of filter coffee, prepared to perfection, just the way I like it.

I stretch out and revel in the joy of spending time with my mom, without the kids to interrupt or ask their hundred questions. Our conversation meanders from the past to the future and back to the present.

She gently prods me to the dining table to eat. And, unbeknownst to myself I wolf down the hottest, softest and yummiest chappatis, with green moong dal sabzi and tomato chutney, washed down with mom’s love and more coffee.

Memories of times past come rushing back – when the whole family used to sit around the table at dinner time arguing, laughing, singing and sharing our fears, success stories and failures.

I stretch and unwind like I haven’t done in a long time. There is a sense of peace and contentment – of being a child again, completely pampered for a few hours, of being at the receiving end of pure unadulterated love, mom’s love.

In the morning, as I leave, she hugs me, and pins a strand of fragrant jasmine flowers on my hair.

My eyes mist over. It is time to go, back to my duties and to my family.

Love you, Amma. There is simply no one like you.