What goes around, comes around! Nothing makes you believe in Karma like when one becomes a parent! Today around 2 pm, Ashu gets a call from her friend, Az asking if she wants to go to the pool with her. Ashu looks at me and I nod my head and she excitedly says yes to her friend, packs her bag and leaves the house. To the pool which is 5 mins walk from our house. At least thats where I assumed they were going and thats what Ashu told me as well. Cut to 5.30 pm - no sign of Ashu. At 6 pm, I am worried. Hd who was watching Nadal making history was worried enough to take his eyes off the TV and look at me. He then walked to the pool to see if she was there or in the nearby park but the pool was closed already and no one in the park. Then I started calling Az's home number, her parents mobile number but no answer. So I walk to Az's house which is 2 mins walk from our house. No ones home. I call three more of Ashus friends who are all in the neighborhood asking if they know where Az and Ashu went but no one knows. At 7.30 pm, my sister calls and asks if Ashu is home because I told her at 5.30 that she's not home yet. Now she's worried too! I knew Ashu would be fine and she would come home soon and safe but the not knowing where she was, was driving me crazy. And the fact that the girl did not think to call from her friends moms phone and tell me where she is and when she will be coming back. Not to mention the guilt trips I was taking. "I am an irresponsible parent! I should have checked with Az's mother. I should have told Ashu to call me if theres any change. " sigh. Anyway, Ashu got back at 8 pm. She had gone to another pool which is a 10 minutes drive away. "I did nt know you will be worried, Amma. I was having so much fun that I did nt know it got so late. I did nt have my watch." Simple. And she got so upset that we were all worried for her. Sigh.
The entire 2 hours when I was worried and looking out of the window every 5 minutes, there was only one thing I was thinking about. My Thatha. My Paternal Grandfather. I was 20 years old and in college. Usually I would be home around 5 pm. But on the day I would come late, I would find him standing outside the house, near the gate looking into the direction I would come from. If it was after 6.30 pm, then I can bet on my life that he would be standing there waiting for me. Sandhikaalam (dusk) was the curfew time according to him and in the morning when I left home, he would say "sandhikaalathukulla vandhudu" (Come back before dusk) and that was his way of saying good bye. Even when my parents did nt care, I knew Thatha would be waiting for me. And the most interesting part is that when I arrived late, he would see me and smile and walk back inside without asking me even a single question. I do not think I made him wait every other day but I do remember that in a span of 18 months, at least once a week I would momentarily forget about him because I was busy talking to the boys (what else!!) and would get home late and there I would see him in his white veshti and a mel thundu, waiting near the gate. And I don't remember he ever asking me why I was late. Not even once. And the next day, he would see me off with his usual send off.
In those 2 hours, I was thinking about Thatha and his unconditional love and support and how patient he was with me and wowed to be the same way with Ashu. You give your child all the freedom they need and hope they are responsible with it. Thats all one can expect. And after all the careful planning on what to tell her and how to handle myself, I failed miserably! Guess one has to be a grandparent to achieve that kind of Zenness and a mere parent just won't do. In other words, Thatha did not slap me in my face because he knew Karma would!