I realize now, at my ripe old age of 52, that I have been such a fool. I did not appreciate all the wonderful things that I took for granted in the past.
I still remember grumbling and pouting as I was forced to take a nap in the afternoon next to my mother in the blistering heat of Kolkata as a child. I wanted to listen to stories (or read when I was able) from my mother but she needed a break from me, I am sure. So she mandated that I close my eyes and fall asleep in the afternoon. I would open one eye to see if she was sleeping so I could quietly sneak away from her and have a few hours of freedom. Some days I could, most days, I got caught. It seemed like a punishment in those days and now afternoon naps, when I can get one, are such decadent luxuries that happen once in a blue moon.
Every morning, before I left for college, the woman who cooked for our family prepared pomfret fish in mustard gravy and hot, steaming rice for me. I barely touched it. I was so eager to leave home and eat junk food from Milanda’s canteen at Jadavpur University that I turned up my nose at the lovingly prepared meal at home. I picked at the rice and fish and Jhumadi (the chef extraordinaire) yelled at me, “Didi ar ektu bhat khao. Oi jonye tumi oto roga.” (Eat a little more rice. You are so thin because you don’t eat.) I grabbed my bag and shut the door behind me. I would kill for someone to prepare that exact same food for me. Especially when I come back home from work and have to prepare dinner.
Last night, I was massaging argan oil in my hair. It was a chore when I was little. Not that I had to do anything myself. Someone sat me in front of them, massaged coconut oil in my long hair, braided them tightly before I could go to bed. The belief was, if you tied your hair very tightly in plaits before going to bed, your hair grew faster. And hair oil was necessary for a full head of hair, of course. I dreaded this ritual. I hated anyone touching my hair. And the tight braids before bed time hurt my head. I was a demure child but I did rebel against hair tying before bed time. My mother, who cut her hair short, relented and let me go to bed with my hair open. That was such a win! But hair oil was a must. As I massaged hair oil last night, I longed for those loving massages again. I could go to a salon, of course. But it was not simply the massage though, it was the entire ambiance. Me sitting on the floor with my long hair down my back in our one room flat. The TV blaring in front. Ma sitting on the bed chatting with the household help and Jhumadi telling us her life story while putting oil in my hair. I can almost see the scene in front of my eyes.
So, the moral of this blog is soak up any nurturing that you are getting at his point in your life. If someone is doing something for you, enjoy every minute, don’t take any of it for granted. When you are adulting real hard and there is no one massaging oil in your hair or making you pomfret fish in mustard gravy or forcing you to slow down and take a nap, you will look back and sigh. Hindsight is always 20/20.