I did not know
I did not know that it would be like this.
That a part within would grow and climb out of me and become something so beautiful.
That someone weighing 3.74 kilograms would make my world dance with a flick of his little finger—your entire hand the size of my thumb, your fingers delicate as a baby grape, long and slender like an ape. I shook hands with a monkey once. I wait for you to grow up to tell you this. I hope it will make you laugh. Like bubbles do. I did not know that my squeals of delight would become inseparable from yours as we chase them together. “Fasther, fasther!” you lisp through your gurgles of laughter as I blow gently to give you a flurry of little globes, little universes in which trees bend across to touch the pebbles and the sun is a swimming purple dot. I catch one on my hand and let you pop it.
There weren’t as many bubbles when I was young. Neither were there all these toys that have claimed your room and are now creeping into mine.
I did not know that I would go to war with your friends about Elmo’s favourite colour and Mowgli’s age because they would be all I’d have left.
That I’d rush home wobbling on high heels, with an empty stomach and a bursting bladder and you’d smile and ask, “Can you bvow me a humungous bubble?” And a beam of pride would radiate from within me, sweeping away all else, except this—slow and gentle breaths for a big one, quick huffs for a flurry.
I did not know that every conversation, with people known and unknown, would come back to when you slept and what you ate. That suddenly one day you will tell me that you want to go to the bathroom, and the half-used bag of diapers would sit in your cupboard for six months until I am convinced and finally pass it on to a friend. I did not know that one day you will kiss me good night and go to bed on your own, an hour and a half of my day, duly returned, without interest. That for a week all I would do with these extra hours of life is sort your Legos and sharpen your colored pencils and check in on you every ten minutes.
That taking you to the playground would turn into an hour of missed calls from work and of broken conversations with friends who would soon give up and go away . Of exultation in conquering the blue spiral slide and disappointment at giving up the monkey bars even as those younger than you trapeze by. “I used to do the bat-hang when I was young,” I tell you with a hint of irritation. “The thing is,” you explain kindly, “the bigger bubbles are more difficult to smash.” I did not notice you started blowing bubbles yourself.
I try to teach you games I used to play as a child, but all you want to do is blow more bubbles. I did not know that in a sultry playground full of children, mothers, nannies and dogs, amidst shrieks of joy and wails, in the company of the purest person I would ever know, time would slow down and I would be swallowed by a heavy gust of tedium that would wrap around me like a humungous bubble and lift me above the playground. That my head would warp and bend across to touch my feet, and I would break up into oily swishes of magenta, blue and yellow, before it pops.
Nidhi Arora was born and raised in India and currently resides in Singapore with her family. She is a business consultant by training and a writer by passion. She writes short fiction, poetry and essays that explore meaning in the humdrum experiences that eventually stack up to shape our lives. She also reviews literary magazines. Her work has been published in Singapore and India.