On gratitude

The morning hung heavy around me, dragging with it the remnants of a lucid dream. I woke up when it was still dark outside, trying to figure out why I was feeling so restless. When light broke, the sky seemed to reflect my mood. Gray. Thick with sluggish clouds. I looked out of the window and found no inspiration. Heaving and sighing, as though I was lugging the weight of the morning with me no matter what I did, I surrendered.

It has been a rough month for me. I’m being denied my right to relish Saturdays and relax on Sundays, so much that this whole month has felt like one never ending week. The more I thought about how much I hated having to work on Sundays, the more agitated I became. Everything seemed to be tinged with that something gray. The kiddo woke up cranky, the husband went out to fetch milk in a huff because he needed his morning tea, and I… I sat in my study and worked.

I put on some music, and tried desperately to drown in it, but with a stubbornness I hadn’t known it was capable of, my mind refused to be told what to do. It stayed afloat. With pursed lips, furrowed eyebrows, tapping its foot impatiently. Morning rolled into mid-day, and still the sky stayed gray.

Relief came momentarily when my sister’s brilliant nanny brought in my nephew with her to spend the day with us. Sure it’s a roller coaster of emotions when the cousins get together, but at least it isn’t boring. So I got up. Forgot about the long “t0-do” list I had meticulously written in the morning. Put on some funky music and danced a jig in the living room. Broke a few fights. Got bitten on my leg by an overenthusiastic toddler. Laughed a lot. Let go a bit. And then came back to work. Because of course, that to-do list kept looking at me accusingly.

Before I knew it, it was afternoon. I woke up from half a nap, and tried to finish my work before my sister arrived. And then, just because it is one of her favorites, I cooked fish with laai xaak. Just like our Mamma would. I poured in my love, and as my kitchen started smelling just like Mamma’s, I started smiling. By the time my sister arrived, having finished her own work (at least I knew I wasn’t the only one) I had forgiven the morning for being unforgiving. We sat right next to our Christmas tree (I know, right? And December isn’t even here yet) and talked. Put on a cheery movie that we only paid half our attention to. We talked some more, and then as usual, we started singing. Because, of course, music is love. Just like music is family. To the extent that we think of music as that sibling that we grew up with. That we could cuddle and smother with love and vent all our frustration on. We sang karaokes, and dissected lyrics and notes and compared our current playlists. And as the husband looked at us from his laptop, he said, “You both should be grateful you guys are getting this time together.”

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Like always, he was right. He was obviously right.

As we sang and immersed ourselves in music and laughter and good food and soul-searching conversations ranging from the perfect toys for our little ones to just how much my book has changed me, I found myself saying thanks over and over again. I was, and still am, thoroughly grateful for the stars that aligned themselves so we could live in the same country, a cab ride away from each other. I am grateful that our little ones love each other to the moon and back, and in turn have brought us so much closer. I am grateful for music, and the joy singing brings to me, and specially for having a sister to sing with. I am grateful for food, and the love for cooking I inherited from my Mamma and recipes that she’s handed over to me. I am grateful for the immensely supportive people I work with, who make going back to work on a Monday tad easier than it would have been without them. I am grateful for the anticipation of Christmas, and the promises of a season of festivities and even more gratitude.

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After my sister left, dragging her wailing toddler behind her, I looked back at the week that was, this time with a less tired set of eyes. We went to watch “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” last Monday, and I came back grinning. We also took Miss Munchkin to watch Moana on Friday, and got the song “Where I’ll go” stuck in my head. The husband got me Banh Cuon for dinner yesterday and lovely chrysanthemums today morning.

I have a busy week ahead of me, and a busier weekend, but guess what, I think I’ll be okay.

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