Amma don’t leave me and go said my daughter for the 100th time. This while we were in the middle of studying for her EVS test. Right after we agreed that India is a peninsula not an island. Pearly tears formed in her eyes all of a sudden and threatened to flow down the soft cheeks.
My heart gave a little tug. Cancel the damn trip to Mumbai, wipe those tears, give the child a big hug and just stay at home – it screamed.
But the mind did not relent. She is old enough and will handle your absence better than you think – advised the mind. Anyways it’s not like you have a choice. It’s an official trip not a joy ride. It chided me.
I sat there torn between wanting to give in to the child and taking a tough stance. After all, how many more years will she say that to me? Probably in another year or so if I tell her I’m going for a day – she might grin with relief. Or she might not even react, just shrug as if she couldn’t care less. Or worse, I might come back after a day and ask her if she missed me and she might say ‘oh you were not at home yesterday?’ I shudder to think how much pain that will cause. I hope such a day never comes.
For now, I’m important in her life. And I’m basking in that feeling.
I hug her and say, what if you were going on a school trip and I start crying ‘Baby don’t go! I’ll miss you.’ She paused in her whimpering. Even the flow of tears down her cheeks seemed to pause. You mean you’ll cry if I go on a school trip? She wondered incredulously. “Are you a baby?!” she chided me. No, I reasoned, but then you are not a baby either and you are not allowing me to go.
Silence. As she pondered over this for a few moments.
Ok! She relented angrily. Go if you have to. But… I’ll miss you amma. She said and those tears sprang up again. My heart went all gooey again. With an effort I diverted her and we delved back into the world of peninsulas and straits. Soon we were giggling over something and all was well again with our world.
As I prepare to leave my six year old and go away for a day, I wonder who is more affected by it. She or me? And if, as I’m sure it will, a day comes when she has to leave me and go on to build her own life, how oh Lord how will I ever handle it?