It all started with the loss of a black sweater. It was one of those perfect ones that are soft without being ‘linty’ and super thin but really warm. We were in Phoenix when I saw it at Marks and Spencer and I got really excited and clutched Abhi’s arm and said “That’s the very sweater I’ve wanted my whole life!” Which is only the tiniest bit of exaggeration because that sweater was up there with some things that you love for no particular reason, that may or may not look good on you but you fancy all the same. I’ve always wanted those long cardigans that you can wrap around your front when it gets cold, and it was the perfect length, available in my size and at a discounted price too! Need I say more? Anyway, THAT sweater was lost.
I get really mad at myself when I lose stuff, and I lose stuff all the time, which means, I am fuming at myself on a regular basis; at least once in every two days. When I misplace something, it upsets me so much that I shed tears of anger and frustration and waste a lot of time being angry and muttering and cursing till anybody who intervenes and helps me search calmly ‘finds’ the lost object right under my nose. (“Devani dole dile ahet ki buttone?” Do you have buttons instead of eyes? – one of my Mum’s favorite lines). It is one of those things about myself that I am yet to fall in love with. I try hard to improve on this. To be mindful and not distracted. To check and re-check. To ‘not forget”. But I invariably lose stuff. And I invariably bawl like a baby and throw useless questions at the husband like “I’m trying so hard. Then why does this still happen?” As if effort is supposed to guarantee success.
And so it happened that the aforementioned sweater disappeared. I was not even aware that I had lost it because I had blissfully assumed that it was in that ever-growing pile of clothes on a stool in our bedroom where clothes, bedtime story-books, extra pillows and other such is routinely dumped. Once in a while I clear that jumble and feel good for a couple of hours, before the next round of dumping begins. Since Fabric Fables has made me busier than ever, that pile is currently a mini-pyramid that sways precariously every time we go near it. The black sweater was supposedly in that pyramid when I wanted to wear it. I rummaged. Nothing. I asked the husband to check. It wasn’t there. The corners of my mouth turned down. “I’m sure it is there somewhere” said Abhi soothingly. A sleepless night followed.
The next morning, the “turning-the-house-upside-down-to-hunt-for-routinely-lost-objects-tigress” in me arose. Cupboards and drawers were emptied and de-cluttered. I enlisted the help of the maids. A few hours later it was clear. The sweater was not in the house. Down came the rain. I was exhausted and angry and heartbroken.
All this while Rumi was watching me quietly. She knew that I was upset. I was trying my best to speak to her calmly and lovingly but she knew, like they always do. I had asked her to play on her own for a while as Mommy was doing something extremely important (eye-roll at my own drama!) When she saw the tears in my eyes, she summoned the courage to ‘disturb’ me and asked me in the sweetest voice there is “Kay zhala Mumma?” “Majha sweater haravla ga. Mhanun mala thodasa vaait vatat ahe.” (I’ve lost my sweater and that has upset me a little). Then she said in the soothing voice that I normally use to comfort her “Its OK sweetheart. Haravla tar kay zhala? Apan anuya navin. Thaamb, mi shodte, thaamb. Pan saapde paryanta tu majhya maandivar doka thev Tula bara vaatel. Tula kishie deu ka? Huggie?” (So what if it is lost sweetheart? We can always buy a new one. Let me help you look for it. Meanwhile, you can put your head on my lap. Shall I give you a kiss or a hug to make it better?) I was overwhelmed at her capacity for empathy. My tears started flowing like a river.
Rumi went into the room and came out with an old dark blue pullover. Her face was pure delight. “Ha bagh tujha sweater! Mi shodhla. Ata khush zhalis na tu? Happy es na?” (Look I’ve found your sweater! You’re happy now, right?) That made me smile. My happiness means so much to her! And I have so many sweaters too, I’m spoilt for choice. Both realizations hit me at the same time. I wiped my tears away.
Having Rumi around helped me gain some perspective and realize the triviality of my loss; the time that I had spent in being a raging bull while my daughter sat still in a corner could have surely been put to better use. And as with most of my ‘lost’ items, that damn sweater did turn up some days later. But Rumi’s compassion has made a lasting impression in my heart.
On one episode of ‘The Mentalist’, I heard a line that Patrick Jane used to say to his daughter every night: “You are safe, you are loved, you are wise”. I loved it. I use it every night with Rumi: I assure her that she is safe and she is loved and on my part, I am convinced that she is infinitely wise.