By Mamlu Chatterjee
Mamlu Chatterjee reflects on all the gifts from her son that have lit up her life
Kindling: A Noun - Small things used to light fires.
The first one I remember is a necklace, made with paper loops in different colours, painstakingly joined together to be long enough to go around my neck. Made in craft class and carried home carefully in both hands. And the look of sheer joy on his five-year-old face when I stepped out wearing it. Perhaps the most memorable gift he ever gave me was a reddish maroon salwar kurta suit that still has pride of place in my cupboard, even though I don't wear it anymore. He was about nine years old then. He found me crying over a favourite reddish outfit that had disappeared – no, he didn't sympathise or wipe my tears or any-thing. He asked me why I was crying and listened carefully to what I said. Then he walked away. That evening his father came home carrying a new outfit for me – and it made me weep.
My little boy had walked away from me and called his father over and over, impressing upon him how important it was that my ‘disappeared’ outfit be replaced, no matter what. My husband, usually a terrified shopper, caved under his insistence and actually went looking for an outfit to match the detailed description his son had given him, four times that day. I was overwhelmed in the best possible way at the trouble my little boy took to make me happy that day.
A little glass Ganesh (a slim one, not the usual portly one) one time, a little necklace with matching earrings another time; once, when he was taller than me, in his surly teenage years, ice trays to hold over my scalded leg when I spilt hot water on myself; at 17, arms akimbo, standing solidly in front of me when a weirdo attempted to get fresh; a piping voice at six, in all earnestness, asking me why I didn’t join the Mrs. India contest; a charming pastel patterned sweater one Christmas, beautiful paintings for my room another, hand woven cotton towels a third time, and my gorgeous, gorgeous, hot pink sneakers to motivate me to go for walks recently! I lose count of the delightful gifts this child has given me over the years. He even button-holed his pals to wake me up at midnight with only a slightly off key rendition of Happy birthday one year! He’s always, always, known what I want, what will lift my heart, what will light up my life, this crazy-haired boy of mine. So this Christmas, when he got me a small square box that felt like a book, but wasn’t quite a book, I wondered if I would like his gift; of course I would be compelled to like whatever he gave me, because it would be tied up with heartstrings, but what if I, you know, didn’t really like what he got me? I needn’t have worried, he’d grown up seeing me almost perpetually with my nose buried in a book, so he got me a Kindle!
It’s been a couple of weeks now, and I’m learning new things on it every day; I’m excited about bedtime because I can curl up under my blankets with my Kindle; I can buy books every week without going bankrupt and I can even exchange books with friends who have a Kindle too! It’s a whole new world and it’s so much fun! And, oh yes, all that stuff I said earlier about holding a paper book and the smell of a new book and dog-ears and all that? Rubbish. Give me my Kindle that fits sleekly into my handbag when I travel, carrying at least six new books without adding to my excess baggage, any day. Here’s looking forward to plenty of Kindling to keep me warm, lit up and bring light and warmth to everyone and everything around me.
Mamlu is a mom, an editor, reader, and aspiring writer who is currently learning French and re-learning how to knit. She loves dogs, baby elephants and wants a cottage on a hill someday
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