Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Breakfast Mahabharat

I dressed Nino this morning in a lovely cream Bengali cotton jhubba and red dhoti for a garba programme at his school. He was very excited about the dhoti and I loved the jhubba for its soft, transparent look and beautiful green ikkat border.

As we walked down to the dinning room, I told him to be extra careful with the jhubba while eating his breakfast. We managed through boiled egg and ketchup just fine, till the doorbell rang and I got up to answer it. There was a bite left, and I told him to take care that the ketchup doesn't stain his jhubba.

The man at the door was haggling for some unpaid bills, and just at that moment Nino ran to me saying something about ketchup, jhubba - I didn't pay attention, but when I finally turned, I saw two perfect oval stains on the cream fabric. I snapped, yanked him hard to the washbasin and screamed at how often I've told him to use a napkin instead of his clothes.

Nino looked at me, dazed for a second, till tears pooled in his eyes, and he began to cry in earnest. I was unable to stop yelling - but when I did finally calm down, he told me how he had reached for the water and the plate stained the jhubba and that he came running to tell me, but when I did not listen, he wiped it with his fingers.

As I walked him to the lift, I said sorry. He turned to me and said, very simply, 'It's okay mama, but I was trying to clean the jhubba.' I wanted to sink to my knees and cry, and apologise for transferring my irritation over unpaid bills to him. But I waited till he was gone and then locked myself in the bathroom and cried, unable to forget how betrayed he looked when I hurt him - with my words, and my touch.

You've always been gracious with forgiveness Nino - quick to say sorry, quicker to say 'It's okay'. It can't be easy saying sorry to this shrieking woman who towers over you, bellowing about something that you did not set out to do in the first place. And yet, you do, with more grace than me. I have more of what constitutes wisdom under my belt than you do - years, education, fat - but it is you who embrace me with my faults and uncompromising temper and quick-on-the-move hand. Even if I leave you smarting, hurt, unhappy and vulnerable.

I know when I come to pick you up at school today, you will run out into my arms, talking excitedly about school, pulling me towards the car. I know you will ask me as my office approaches, as you do everyday, 'Mama, are you going to office?' And I know your smile will falter and then pick up again when I say yes. You have already forgiven my trespass this morning, you forgive my abandonment of you everyday. And I know I will add this story to my guilt collection, promising to myself as I toss and turn in the night, never to yell at you again for a stained piece of cloth.

1 comment:

shail said...

I know just how you felt.