The alarm goes off at six a.m. I get out of bed, wash my hands, and head towards the children’s bedroom. The girls are awake. I brush my younger daughter’s teeth and leave them to get ready as I help the cook with the tiffins and breakfast; omelettes today. She brings them out while I whip up hot chocolate, and as they eat, I pop soaked nuts into their mouths.
When they’re ready, I drive them to the bus stop, eyedrops in tow. My younger daughter has an allergy and I manage to put the drops in her eyes just as the bus pulls in. Eight drops a day have tapered and changed and gone through all sorts of permutations and combinations in consultation with the ophthalmologist over the course of three months. Earlier two people had to hold her down as I put the drops in her eyes. Now, I use two fingers.
No sooner have I returned than I hear my husband hollering. I open the cabinet in front of him and hand him the soap he’s been calling out to.
“It will not come to you,” I say, for the thousandth time.
“It just did,” he replies, snickering at his outstanding wit.
The cook is packing his tiffin, and I add in a fruit and nuts. He leaves soon after and I sit down to read the newspaper, drink my coffee and have breakfast in bed – one of the best parts of my day.
After this it’s time for the gym, followed by a shower and shampoo and then, an hour of piano practice. Lunch is ready – dosas today. By the time I finish it, my hair has dried into a curly mop. I tie it up, soak four glasses of chia seeds for tonight, and leave for the supermarket. There’s no time for a blowdry. My husband eats one particular bread and we can’t run out! I buy some wine and cheese along with the bread, and thank God for online shopping as I skip the grocery section. On the way back I stop to pick up a birthday present for my daughter’s friend, and rush to the bus stop.
The girls are back, and they’re starving. I had called ahead and asked the cook to boil potatoes and chop onions and coriander. It’s all ready. We mix the ingredients together with sev, kurmura, lemon and salt, some more coriander, and the girls wallop down the bhelpuri as they fill me in with all that happened at school – another of the best parts of my day.
My elder daughter sits down with math homework and I help her with her problems until it’s time for me to leave for tennis class with my younger one. We’re at the class when she runs to me. She needs to use the restroom. Ugh. Public restrooms are definitely the worst part of my day. I take her, wipe down the seat with disinfectant wipes that I’m never without, warn her not to sit on the seat anyhow, and after she washes her hands, I give her sanitiser, and pat her down once more with mosquito repellent. She resumes playing. My elder daughter phones me with another math problem and I help her through it. Five minutes later she texts me hearts and kisses.
We’re back from tennis lessons at seven. The girls shower while dinner is laid. I coax them into finishing their dinner, eating their powdered flax seeds with yogurt, drinking their chia seeds, all with one eye on the clock. One more bite. One last sip. When they’re done, I brush my little one’s teeth. I will continue to do so until she is nine. Two years to go.
They’re in bed at last when my daughter turns on the lights and runs off to get water. She’s back, and no sooner are the lights out, when they flick on again. My younger one needs to use the loo. The lights are out again when I remember the eyedrops and rush to my room to get them. The lights go on again. I put them in my daughter’s eyes, noting that her nails need cutting. We lie down. There’s a lot of giggling and shushing and then, finally, silence. They’re asleep.
I place a nailcutter and eyedrops on a tray on the dining table so I don’t forget them the next morning. Another tray holds bowls of water, which I fill with assorted nuts. I poke around in the kitchen cupboard and give instructions for the next day’s breakfast and tiffins. The chopping will be done tonight.
I sit down with my organiser and note that I have to pop into the store to select wall paper. The club bill needs paying, and the internet, electricity and Tata Sky due dates are all nearing. The gas still hasn’t arrived and I have to lodge a complaint before we run out. There’s time, but I follow the schedule like a hawk. I need to book an appointment for my daughter with the dentist – no cavities, but she has two teeth growing inside a tooth! A rare condition – and it requires an extensive root canal with multiple appointments. I need to get my eyes checked as my number seems to have increased and my bai requires a blood test. But most importantly, my elder daughter’s birthday is coming up and I have to plan her party. She wants something special this year as she’s going to enter her teens! Before I’ve finished the checklist, my husband calls out.
“Should we have wine?”
Wine sounds great. I shut the organiser, jump up from the sofa, remove the bottle from the fridge and realise it has a cork. I call out to him to uncork it as I take out glasses, and bring out the cheese on a platter, with a knife. The cheese is uncut. He uncorks the wine and glares at the cheese.
“Ah, couldn’t you cut it? Must I do everything?”
He’s in a grumpy mood because the stock market is down today. Since he’s been home he has been an obtuse angle on the bed, laptop on lap, browsing the net, checking share prices and sending out emails.
“What do you do all day?” he wonders aloud, while I wonder if he needs eye drops more than my daughter. I feel like I’ve been on my feet, spinning around, for years and I know I have it easier than many others who don’t have help at home. Somedays there’s more to do, some days there’s less, but it never ends. I start to laugh.