As people hit middle age, they start pondering about the way life unfolds, about the meaning of their lives, and where they stand in this infinite Universe. Very honestly speaking, while I too have reached this stage, the questions which dominate my mind nowadays are of a slightly different nature. In the past few years, two regular happenings have made me think very deeply. One is something which affects my daily life. And the second is part of the larger canvas of my life.

Ever since I have moved to this home eleven years back, I have had a dhobi, or a washer-man come by every evening to pick up clothes for ironing. This is a very common practice in our country. He doesn’t have a fixed time, but generally comes by anytime between 7 pm and 9 pm. Funnily enough, no matter what time he rings the bell between the aforementioned time, I am just about to have my dinner, and probably have just put the first morsel in my mouth. Initially I didn’t give it much thought. But I realized that no matter what time I sit with my dinner, be it 7.30 or 9 , sure enough, the door bell rings. I have lately started wondering and of course pondering….does he wait just under our apartment window, with a periscope. Then wait for that exact moment when I serve myself dinner and sit at the table, and then reach for the doorbell? Or can he just sniff the dinner being heated up and decide to ring the bell? Its become a betting topic in my household to see if it’s the washer-man who rings the bell, when I am in midst of my dinner. And the children look at me with trepidation, when I mumble under my breath that maybe I should just invite the dhobi for dinner one day.

It is a worrisome situation, isn’t it? As for the second mystery which perplexes me, it’s something which has happened so many times in the past two decades, but yet never fails to amaze me.

My spouse’s job involves a immense amount of travel. In the 18-odd years that we have been parents, it’s with increasing amazement that I see Murphy in play. I have yet to figure out how it happens. Any emergency involving a child happens when my husband is travelling. Whether it’s a common flu or a broken arm, inevitably he is out of station. I scratch my head during these times. Does the child sense Daddy out of town and decide to give me the privilege of taking decisions? So there I am, at 3 am , peering at my baby girl’s offerings in the potty, trying to figure out if I should give her an extra dose of medication to bring the loosies under control. Or peering into my son’s eyes to decide if the angry red eye is a result of over enthusiastic rubbing or actually a case of conjunctivitis. Or peering down a throat to see how inflamed it is. Or staring hard at a swollen finger, trying to see if the injury needs a consultation and an x-ray. When I think of it, there’s a lot of peering that happens when a child is involved.



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