In search of calmer mornings
Mornings, once upon a time, followed a rhythm. I would be awake but lie in bed until the sounds of the morning rituals reached me. The doorbell would ring and I would hear the maid come up with yet another excuse on why she got delayed. I would smile — knowing mum would be smiling too. Later in the day, we'd laugh over how innovative the excuses were getting with time. Just then, the loud whistle of a pressure cooker from the next door (aunty’s) kitchen would wake up the entire neighbourhood. (Plus, it would tell us what they'd be eating for lunch) Dad would be in the washroom and I'd hear the tap running. Time for him to head for a shower, I’d think to myself. Soon enough, the maid would walk into my room, unannounced (there was/is no culture of knocking on the door). In a very unapologetic manner, she would switch on the lights, switch off the fan, and start sweeping. That's when I'd know that my 'five-minutes-more' of sleep would have to end.
By the time, I'd reach for the toothbrush our home would be up and alive. The radio would be playing classics interspersed with extremely boring adverts (on cooking oil, car batteries, and cough drops) and each member present in the house would be singing along. A hum here, a full chorus there. Reminders from dad to drink our glass of milk quickly would add to the rhythm. Of course, we’d engage in fun bickering with mum — expressing our discontent over what she’d packed in the tiffin box. In between, a vegetable vendor would try to gain mum’s attention with his rather loud calls! Just that like, we’ll all be charged up to take on the day.
Growing up may mean that I don’t have to gulp down a glass of milk, each morning, but it also means that I am required to wake up the sound of an alarm clock — actually worse, to the alarm on my mobile. Needless to say, that I yearn for the sounds of the past, of my childhood. Or rather of the simple, humble moments that made my mornings beautiful.
Of course, I still fill up my home with music, every morning — and I sing along too. However, I miss the out-of-tune symphony that we used to create together as a family. The sound of the smoothie blender is enough to make DH (dear husband) wake up as well. He too joins in the singing (a terrible duet, ask our neighbours). What’s missing? I wonder. Other than, the fan. The house help comes and does his task, mechanically. I don’t know the name of his wife, or the name of the school his children go to. I want to strike a conversation, but I am aware the agency will send in another cleaner, next time. The pressure cooker faces tough competition from the induction cooking range and microwave. I hardly get to see my neighbours, I don’t know their nationality or the nature of their work. I wonder what is their menu for the day. The order for groceries is placed ( to be delivered in the evening) sans any human interaction. There is no bargaining involved. In between all of this, we get ready and make it to the elevator.
As I step in, I smile at the men and women, each with a coffee mug in hand. A few smile back, most prefer staring into their mobile screens. The sense of hurriedness in those few seconds from the 30th floor to the basement is enough to suggest that the morning has begun on a not-so-beautiful note. On reaching work, I greet my colleagues. A few choose to greet back, but most prefer to e-mail and greet, only if required.
Perhaps, tomorrow will be a calmer morning. We’ll slow down and greet the sun, I can only hope.
This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.