“Good morning, babu! Wakie-wakie…” She chirped into his room. She responded to his usual “2 more minutes” plea with a crisp and almost impatient, “Come on-come on, let’s wake up. I am going to the kitchen to make you your glass of milk. Don’t forget to brush your teeth, your brush is ready, ok?”

“Let’s go to the park today!” He said as she buttered a slice of toast and looked at him. Her eyes gleamed as a reflection of the excitement in his eyes, “Ok, let’s!” They hi-fived.

Later in the day, as they were getting ready for their day out, she instructed, “Let me know when you need to use the bathroom ok? Don’t worry, you have your diaper on. But still…”

“Hold my hand, babu” Another instruction, as they crossed the road. He even asserted his independence by shifting her hold on his elbow to holding just her little finger.

She is bossy, but it will be a good day. “I will have my ice cream for sure,” he thought. “I can let go today. It is okay if he has an ice cream today,” she thought. There was harmony.

She turned back after paying the ice-cream-wala, to the one thing she was scared of. He was not there. Wanting to break into a melodramatic scream, she reminded herself to “Not panic.” The first rule of parenting is to “Not panic,” her dad had told her when her baby had had a particularly bad episode of epilepsy. She breathed in, she breathed out as her eyes scanned the playground.

There in the corner, she saw him. Her relief lapsed in a moment as she saw him let a street dog lick his ice-cream! She slammed her head as he was about to bite in himself. She ran to him, snatching the ice-cream out of his hand and throwing it away. “shar..i…n..g” he mumbled. She didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

He happily licked on another scoop and was secretly overjoyed to see the dog run after the dropped cone. She gripped his hand tight on their way back home. Enough excitement for the day.

A bath and a bowl of soup later she read him a story as he nodded off. She switched the light off.

“We don’t think it through, when we ask to return to our childhood, do we?” She thought as she caressed her dad’s, her baba’s forehead. He smiled in his sleep as his daughter tucked him in.

~ ~ ~

This post was written to be read for the childhood theme at “The StoryBench” reading club.