Being Aunt Frida
When I was young and lived with Aunt Frida, I got to witness some utterly crazy days. She was the one to teach me things, and that is how I came to learn most things in the weirdest manner possible.
“You will someday grow up to be as crazy as Aunt Frida,” my cousins would tease and scare the hell out of me. Well, let me tell you what eventually happened.
I was taught how to count by keeping a track of the number of ants in the storeroom. I would mess up several times. She would just laugh and never correct me. Each time she laughed, I would get to know that I did it the wrong way and had to try and try until her laughter finally solidified into a proud smile.
At the age of six when I learnt how to read sentences, she bought me a few storybooks and those were the first ever stories that I got to know. For I had never received my share of bedtime stories as a kid. Whenever she tucked me in bed and I asked her to read out a story to me, she would say, “I will not do that, little girl. No one should ever do that. Only you have that right over yourself. Wait till you learn how to read.” Back then, I was too young to understand what she meant.
The most powerful reminiscences of my childhood with her are the times when she took me out for an ice cream treat. It was a real pleasure to take a stroll while eating ice cream. The house being quite near the shop, we could get back in a minute or two. But she would hold my hand and walk past the house and we would merely keep walking till the ice cream got over. “Little girl, sometimes, destination can wait while you get yourself busy in enjoying the journey,” she would explain.
I was too young to understand this as well. As a matter of fact, I was too young to understand most of the things she said. But I tried remembering them all, in order to interpret at a later age. However, life going on as it does, I let go of her words as easily as I let go of her when she died. I have loved her enough, but longing for people after they part has never been my thing. Oh well, it had never been her thing either!
Now, I am no longer a little girl. I am a married woman of thirty-five and have a daughter of seven. Yesterday, while I was hurrying to the grocery store, my daughter pleaded with me to let her tag along. She wanted to accompany me and fetch an ice cream for herself. Although I was in extreme hurry to get back home, I agreed.
I collected my grocery, bought her an ice cream, held her hand and started walking back rapidly. But I was so tired that after only a few seconds of rushing, I was bound to walk slow. And while forcibly taking the slow walk home, I let my eyes wander here and there. For the first time in so many years, I breathed in and relaxed while on a walk.
When we reached our lane, I tightened my grip over her palm and walked past our house. “Mommy, were not you in a hurry to get back?” she asked.
“Sometimes, destination can wait while you get yourself busy in enjoying the journey, ” I told her.
She gave me a confused glance and, as was quite evident, did not understand anything. But she was undoubtedly happy with my decision. She continued enjoying her ice cream and the walk. I stroked her hair, thinking that someday when she tries to hurry up but is too tired to do so, she will get to know. Just the way I did.
I came home and shared the experience with my husband. After listening to me patiently, he laughed and said, “You are turning out to be as crazy as your Aunt Frida was!”
Surprisingly, unlike my younger self, the grown-up me felt a strange sense of accomplishment at the remark.
I looked back at him and smiled the most peaceful smile ever.