Five! My poised little, wise little Chotto-ma, you’re one two three four five. How did it happen? Weren’t you crawling and drooling and speaking La-La-Language just a minute ago?
Five sneaked up on us, and I have a sneaky feeling it sneaked up on you too. When you heard ‘five’ your eyebrows nearly ran into your hairline. And your eyes got bigger, if that’s possible.
Everyone says you have my eyes, but I wish I had yours. Yesterday, you looked up at the clouds and said, “The sky looks like a big bowl of porridge.” I looked up, and wanted a spoon. And I don’t even like porridge.
That lopsided little triangle, from your eyes to your head to your heart, holds thoughts that stretch much farther than your five years. As far as India and Jupiter and Mars. Those thoughts make you call Calcutta to check if Mamma’s TV has been fixed (since she said it wasn’t working the day before). It makes you hold me and Ba tight, very tight, and ask us not to die for a very very very long time. That is what you worry about the most now; every day. You worked it all out in your little head: dogs die when they grow old, and people must grow old too.
Thankfully, the worry melts in the face of good gobbly kissing, or bouts of frenzied dancing. And suddenly there you are as you are, my happy chotku-potku girl; so lovely, my heart bursts. You tease us, you twirl round and round, and you tell us stories of creatures only you can see.
So this is you.
Just the tip of you,
just a whiff of you,
just a smidge of you.
At five, at five,
When we asked you what you wanted for your birthday, you said you’d like an Arctic fox. At the shop though, the fox didn’t match up to magic. Sometimes, life just needs an unicorn. An unicorn that gallops out of a porridge sky.
This is your absolute favourite book now. It’s your book with Ba. You plonk down on Ba’s lap, get comfely; Ba reads out one poem after another, and you giggle and guffaw and ask for one more.
You’re always leaving us little messages. Here’s one I found on my study table a few weeks ago. Translated from Bengali, it says Dear Ma, I love you very much (I love your spellings so much, I’m almost sad they’ve started to straighten out)
You clean; and it’s no pretend-play either. I can give you a rag, and mirrors will be shining and table-tops dusted. I can hand you the laundry basket, and clothes will be colour-sorted and loaded into the washing machine. I often walk into the bedroom in the morning to find you’ve made the beds – yours and ours. Pillows lined neatly, the heavy duvets heaved and dragged till they’re folded neatly at the foot. You give me these little surprises every day, and I can’t tell you what a lucky Ma I am.
And, a happy monster called Pah dancing with a lovely little monster girl, next to a Stegosaurus, next to a winged man, next to a duck.
You’re the honestest little person I know. You don’t lie. Even when you’re scared of telling the truth, you say it. And your eyes stay as clear and steady as the day you were born.
You’re trying very hard to like wearing jeans (for my sake), but really, you’d rather wear dresses with flowers and butterflies. Every day.
You still hate water on your face during baths.
You love space. And the planets that float and the stars that wink and the moon that waits for nighttime and the rocks that go flying through time. These hang over your bed.
You make a shopping list every time we go to the grocery shop. You have a clear idea about essentials.
A few days ago, you told me this in exactly this order of words:
“I love you and Ba so much, so much and it’s so big, so big that it’s heavier than a building. It’s so heavy that you can’t carry it, you can only feel it inside.”
If there was a giant workshop amidst the constellations where babies were made to order, and we’d put in an order on a list so long that the scroll hung down from the clouds and touched the grass, we still couldn’t have thought up a daughter as wonderful as you.