The day begins with sunshine kisses. With sleep barely rubbed off her tiny eyes with her tiny fists Miss Munchkin gives me the biggest smile and softly says “Do you want to go outside?” Which is my cue to get up, scoop her in my arms and go outside to sit on the garden swing. On days when I am not done being sleepy lazy yet and I try to linger in the warmth of my quilt for just a bit longer, she starts poking me in the eye going “Wake up! Wake up Mamma! Hurry up. Everyone is waiting!” as though the day is going by fast and she wished I wouldn’t waste time. I don’t really mind. Specially since being outside basking in the morning sun and hearing birds cheep and watching squirrels skitter over branches is a treat in itself.
She runs wild the moment we are outside, commenting on how it is a beautiful sunny day, and how the birds didn’t eat all of the rice my Mother left scattered on the ground for them and how beautiful the flowers smell. We sit on the swing and “talk” about things, and usually that is when she would remember that she wants to read a book and off she would rush inside to fetch her trolley filled with books. My Mother then brings out a cup of tea for me and her sippy cup filled with warm milk, and together we would sip on our beverage and read the books. Her latest favourite is what she calls the “count book” or the Maths With Mummy book, which is incidentally the very first book I had read and loved when I was a little girl myself. I am amazed at how the tattered book still has it in its yellowed scribbled pages, the power to hold her attention for a long time. She flips over the pages and counts whatever she finds on them.
Once that is over, she usually loves to chase the ball around the garden and I watch in amazement as my little girl, who until a few weeks ago refused to walk on grass even with her shoes on, runs bare-feet over the grass to pick up the ball. She’d make a big show of sniffing the grass and say out loud “It smells like grass. I love grass!” She then pauses to look at the goat and her kids that usually lounge by our gate, and call out to me “Mamma, hold the kid, please. Please Mamma” which she has been doing ever since my Mother held a kid for Miss Munchkin to pet. She had even wanted to feed a leaf to the kid, going “Hmm, khai diya, khai diya leaf!”, visibly disappointed that the kid didn’t seem interested in eating the leaf. But then she gets distracted by the cat who chooses that very moment to slip in through the gate, and she runs after it instead, yelling “Cat! Come inside! Aha sun!” The other day when we went out for a walk, which she abandoned half way through choosing to be carried instead, she kept saying her hullo’s to all the ducks and the puppies and the chicken she met on the way, wanting me to hold all of them so she can pet them.
As a side, this is why I love being in Assam. This is why I don’t mope about being born in a sleepy town where you won’t find anything remotely resembling a decent mall. This is definitely why I consider myself lucky to have been brought up close to the river, in a pseudo village still trying to decide if it wants to grow into something more. Because where else will you find ducks and chicken and puppies and goats and cows reign supreme over the roads and run amok in reckless abandon, so much that cars have to stop and give them way before moving on?
The only time Miss Munchkin agrees to come inside is to have her meals and reluctantly, for her nap. She jumps with glee at the sound of “bhaat” (rice), and relishes her maas-bhaat (rice with fish curry) like a true blue Assamese. For someone who refused to have anything but chicken porridge and chicken soup with pasta for ages, it is nothing short of a miracle. All the fresh air, all the running around seems to be working wonders for her appetite, and I couldn’t be more grateful. She even takes her bath outside in the sun, happily splashing about in her baby pool, refusing to come out until she’s got pruney fingers. Evenings are spent running back and forth between her grandparents, commenting on what everyone is doing, and sometimes coaxing and pleading her Koka to play the violin for her.
For the first time in over two years, I am getting my sleep back. Miss Munchkin puts herself to sleep as long as I am lying next to her cuddling her, and sometimes when that doesn’t work, she’ll ask if I could put her to sleep, which is when I let her lie on my belly as I pat her back. She no longer wakes up in the middle of the night unless she gets startled by an over enthusiastic gecko (she hates that noise) but even then all she does is toss around until she finds a nook cozy enough right by my side, and goes back to sleep. I always knew being home made me happier and healthier, but this is the first time I can see all the benefits the little one is reaping, and it does my heart so much good just to see her grow each day. Here’s to our homes, and all the happiness they bring. Here’s to hometowns and native villages that never fail to welcome us with big squishy hugs whenever we come back, however long it might have been.