See, Amma stopped addressing you as Pattu or with all those other cute names in public. These acts embarrass you and make you turn all red when I do those once upon a time cute stuffs in public. You say “Stop acting weird Amma” with a gritting teeth. You are growing as a beautiful young lady with a good heart. You absolutely cannot offend or hurt anyone knowingly and I am glad to say that you will stay the same for rest of your life. I can see that your character and core values are built very strongly. You start with “No offence but…” when you want to pass your critics. Your requests are presented to us in such a way that we find it hard to say No. I mean how could we say No if you have already worked out the logistics and ready to defend yourself to the best.
This year has been very challenging for us as a family with returning to India and snapping back to US in no time. I was worried about your transition but you handled it with ease. Its simple for you. Your parents decided to move back and you moved along with them. You had no choice and adapted to the changes swiftly. How easy is that to just shrug the shoulders, say you don’t have a choice and move along with the change quickly? I have something to learn from you sweetie. You don’t have preference for India or US. For you, somethings are good at India and somethings are good at US. This is what you say to people when they ask ” how did you feel about the move?”
I hope you will never forget A and her three girls Lai, Kai and Mei. “A” pampered you the most last summer by taking you out along with her girls and gifted you a photo book full of memories when we left to India. They were the happiest to welcome you back to US.
In the short stint at India, you made some good friends at school and came home with a bunch of “miss you” cards on last day. Vid was your best buddy at our township and Jyo was your best buddy at school. I can safely say that you had good time at India. I took you to Anna centenary library, to my friend’s art studio, enrolled you at nearby lending library and you also visited Dhakshinchitra via school field trip. We made color kolam at our door step for Diwali, followed our tradition of making pillayar at home for Vinayakar chathurthi (what if we made it with atta dough for the lack of clay), played outdoors freely (it is a big deal after living at US) and enjoyed all the pampering from grand parents.
You were happy to re-join the same school at US and came in par with fellow kids at a remarkable pace.
I am not able to manage your school works anymore. You have crossed the stage of preliminary learning and I need google’s assistance if you have questions. So, I better leave that job to you and you manage your school work and home work. All we do is to just sign the place you show us and I feel guilty about it though I am not sure what to do about it. It was easy to review one page worksheets, simple addition and subtraction but what to do if you have to read 25 pages in social studies to answer 5 questions? , if you have questions on Algebra or Science? These are not things that can be taught or reviewed on the go and at this point of life I am struggling to buy that time every evening to sit with you. If we save it for the weekend, then it gets too much. You don’t want to learn more than few new concepts at the same time and I don’t push you either. We have been sidetracked with your studies and I definitely need to work out a way to find the time and energy to spend more time with you on your studies.
On the way back home from school I ask “So how was your day? what did you do?” and your consistent response is “this, that and everything”. That sums up all right? what more can I ask you? Still, I try my best like “So what did Ms.B say? did anything interesting happen? Did you see your xyz friend?” and you will respond only if you feel like.. If I am lucky I will get all my questions answered.
The day I cannot forget – When I picked you up and we were on the hallway, your teacher Mr.B came out of nowhere and said I have raised a great girl, that you are so spontaneous, tries to do the best in everything. He said that you were one among the 2 out of 30+ kids who got the meaning for “viscous” and earned your bonus points. I could recollect that you were checking for the meaning at 10pm the previous night and we were discussing about that. You have never defaulted on home work. You handle them pretty well. Should I still worry about your studies? I don’t know. The competitive world out there scares me to bits and I am very much worried as how you will handle it pattumma. I hate to pressurize you. When we were about to move out after the conversation with Mr.B, Ms.C crossed us and stopped by our way to praise you. She actually thanked me for raising a good girl as she said these characters are built from home, from parents. I was beaming with proud. Looks like you help her with toddlers during lunch time.
How many times do I have to repeat this? You LOVE your little brother. He is the world to you. You taught him to touch his knees and toes when we sing head, shoulder, knees and toes. You taught him to knock on the door and many more. You love to teach him new things and also take the credit. You go Awww even if he gets up and walks by himself.
It is cute to see you communicate with Ammachi when you say “Ammachi enakku oru help pannareengala pleasssuu? indha fridge open panni, juice bottle velilae eduthu, adhai oru cup-lae oothi, en kitta kondu vareengala pleasssuuu..” Needless to say the cup with juice duly filled will be in your hand before you finish the sentence. She has pampered you enough with her potato (ullulaikingu in your words) fries, coconut chutney and yellow beans kuzhambu. Yellow beans kuzhambu (I wonder how the dish got this name? the beans used for this kuzhambu are green colored tuvar lilva beans) is still your all time favorite.
When you say “fine then I am never ever going to talk to you ever again” I have always challenged you about how senseless it is. So, now you have improved and talk sensibly even when you super duper mad like “ok I am not going to talk to you till tomorrow morning amma”.. You can’t hold to it for more than five minutes pattumma. Then, you will come back to me with “fine I will talk with you but under one condition”.
Your favorite shop is “My pretzel” located opposite our home where you like plain pretzel and almond caramel topped pretzel. We are still going strong with once a month pretzel day. With pizza, you only like the pizza from “Singas” local pizzeria.
We have recently purchased lot of summer clothes and other stuffs for you but I didn’t hide any of them to give it as a surprise on your special day. Aren’t we famous for trying all new clothes and accessories on the same day of purchase? So, I have to use some of them again for the treasure hunt on your special day. This is another tradition we follow every year. It doesn’t matter as what you get but the fun of treasure hunting should not be missed. Thanks for reminding me about it. Now, I have to rack my brain to find some secret spots in that tiny nest of ours.
We have something exciting planned for this weekend. A themed party with just few of your girl friends. Fingers and toes crossed including big toe. Hope I am not jinxing it and all will go well.
You are continuing the music lessons in Skype with the same master who taught you at India. Not very fond of the classes but agreed to try it. Hope you will soon get the hold of listening to shruti/thalam and will start appreciating what you learn.
You are getting better at art and this is your signature drawing as of now. Inspired from my friend who is an artist by profession.
You can make perfect dosa. I mean pour the batter into hot tawa, spread it as a nice circle, flip it and take it out to serve. You love cooking.
I can’t believe that you still believe in Santa and tooth fairy. One day you asked if tooth fairy is real and I handled it pretty well as per my standards. I said you will figure it out yourself. You asked when? I replied, its the day you learn to make sambar. You will learn things as you grow. Like how today you know to make dosa and soon you will learn other dishes, you will also figure out about Santa and tooth fairy sooner. **ignore my preen look**
For you, our next door girl N is always lucky. She was even lucky on the day her four tooth were extracted at one sitting as she will get $40 from tooth fairy. really kutty?
You have learned to do “hare rama hare krishna” jebam from N’s mom. You are pretty regular at it. I leave this to your choice.
I have a surprise on your special day. A last minute planned surprise. I really really hope it materializes..
You are bossy, mean, mad, cranky and sometimes even test our patience to limits. You cry at the drop of the hat, explode randomly but in retrospect none of these incidents come to my mind. At the end of day you do what we expect you to do. That’s you.
If there is one thing that I am thankful to you in this year, it is your maturity in understanding. You agreed for tonsure with fully knowing what to expect after that. Thank you pattumma.
You are too good for your age.. Stay the same and may God bless you with good health and happiness all your life.
P.S: Life is at craziest best now with ammachi/thatha leaving in two weeks and I was afraid I have to give a skip to this year’s letter but I am glad I made it. Please pardon the mistakes (spelling/grammatical). I wrote this in one breath and publishing without proof reading. My humble readers (no no I am not keeping any ice on your head), who want to slap me for all the errors in this post, please slap me hard. Nevertheless, this post is full of memories that I can relate to even if I read it after 30 years.