The Wonder Years

My daughter’s first day in the school after she turned 4 was a big day for the two of us at least. We talked about it for months and mentally prepared for it.  She’d not have me around to pick her up when she fell, pat her on her back when she faltered and cuddle her to sleep in the afternoons, she’d be all on her own from that day one!! How would she eat on her own I fussed. When the day finally came, I woke up earlier than required and prepared tiffin box for the first time in my life. In my anxiety to make sure she would not go hungry I packed more food than a kid could possibly eat!

I taught her the most important sentence she would need now that she was starting school (“May I go to toilet Miss?”). I thought I prepared well for this day. We reached the front gate of the school very early. As I looked nervously down to my daughter neatly dressed in blue school uniform and maroon blazer with the school logo embroidered on the breast pocket, little Tamanna looked calm and composed.

All the kids her of age were crying in unison and some cried looking at other’s cry. I held her hand tighter to show my assurance. She smiled at me. When the time for us to let our children go inside the classroom came and parents were ushered out and told to come at noon to pick them up, I looked one last time at her. She sat there smiling at me and motioned me to go. I came out of the school building. There was a stone slab in the garden overlooking her classroom. I sat there and cried my heart out. It was my daughter’s first day in school.

I hate dirty toilets which look gross and make you want to throw up. And I hate it when circumstances force me to visit one when I am out. And I hate it the utmost when I am about to eat in my favorite restaurant on a weekend and my daughter looks at me with discomfort and I know she needs my help to get ‘it’ done in the loo!! God, this wasn’t happening to me!! I had asked her to go to her morning ‘chores’ before we set out of our house. “Tamanna, can it wait till we get home, please?”, I pleaded dreading seeing the loo before I savored the dal makhani, mughlai chicken and butter naan in Regency park.

In reply she looked at me with misery writ on her small sharp-featured face. “Oh, common, let’s get it done,” I said getting up from my chair and ushering her to the rest room. It was dirtier than I had anticipated. There goes my meal I thought to myself. Once inside that broken ugly toilet, I felt giddy and every cell of my being craved for better surroundings. “Ok Tamanna let’s get it done now that we are here,” I said not bothering to look down at her. I was allowed to make my discomfort a little lesser if I could help, couldn’t I? But I sensed Tamanna not move an inch, nor prepare for what we had come here for. “What’s the matter gudia?,” I asked baffled. I heard a small voice reply back to me, “Mama, I don’t want to do it anymore!!!!”

This wasn’t happening to me surely.

*The essay is written by Urmila Chanam

*The writer works in a British Multi-National Company in Bangalore.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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