Friday, 16 February 2018.
It’s two days since my last journal entry, I gave up on my self-promise, a promise I make to myself, within 24 hours that I would write every day, no matter what. I decided to publish my journal entries as a public reprimand should I fail, which I did, invariably, despite my better judgment and firm resolution.
It was not just a creative exercise; writers are encouraged to write every day, but a ‘note to self’ cathartic process. It was an experiment to find out my state of mind, the state of my soul, was I looking at things objectively? Am I truly living life, experiencing every moment or have I turned this once in a lifetime experience into a monotonous grind? Do I allocate enough time to myself, for reflection, for peace of mind, for the sheer joy of being me?
My instantaneous response was to admonish myself for being too busy to ‘stand and stare’, a memorable line from “Leisure” a poem by Welsh poet W. H. Davies. After a cup of aromatic coffee, I ruminated over the past two days, the events that tore me away from my self-promise. Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, a day to be reminded that we are dust, from dust we are born and unto dust, we shall return. After a frantic morning getting kids, lunch boxes and myself ready, we headed off to mass.
During mass Ann, a delightful woman managed to giggle and spill ash all over her trousers. She was meant to carry it to the nursing home to mark the foreheads of the ill with ash. I reached out into my handbag, the bag I had meant to leave in the car and pulled out quite a wad of kitchen paper towels, the ones I shoved in my bag as I wondered, ‘why was I shoving kitchen towels in my bag when all I needed was a single tissue?’ My sister-in-law, Agnes, reached out into her bag and pulled out a KFC wipe, the one that never makes it into her handbag but did today.
The effervescent woman was grateful and cheekily quipped as Aggi handed over the KFC wipe, “where’s the chicken?”
Yes, that’s Catholics for you, we find humor always, especially when things go awry. On the ride back I decided to spend time with my brother and Aggi. Aggi and I kept remarking about how both of us, in the midst of the madness that is a school run, we both managed to put into our bags the very thing Ann would need.
‘The Lord looks after his own!’
That revelation stayed with me and brought me comfort, it caused me to smile whenever I washed my hands and looked in the mirror and saw my face marked with a cross of ash. I may be born of dust and I will return to it but I am loved by the maker of the universe and that is plenty.
I was so ecstatic by the revelation that I hadn’t thought of jotting it down. I was too preoccupied with living in the moment to actually transcribe the events.
Wednesday, was a revelation, how would Thursday hold up?
I sipped more of my glorious warm coffee and as it swirled in my mouth and filled my nostrils with the aroma of roasted cocoa beans, I found myself on Thursday. I spent the majority of the morning cooking, determined to give my children a good vegetarian meal, it’s lent after all. I was also multitasking doing the church newsletter; I read a few books online to keep my eyes from going askew fixing the formatting.
The kids rolled, yelled and whined their way back home by 3:30 pm. After that it was one chaotic event that is mostly a blur, there are sporadic memory flashes of yelling, threatening, bribing and pleas, all from me. It was study time with the kids and for once it wasn’t marked by pleas for the torture to stop, that would also be me! Instead, we were talking about the first word uttered by my children. Frohar, my oldest, had to do a history project, a personal timeline. The question, to write something memorable from the time you were a baby, got the entire family in guffaws.
“Mom, what was my first word?”
I paused, shrugged and after a long silent mental debate relented, “Dada.”
“You wish it was Mama, don’t you?” Frohar reached out and hugged me, the kind you give a sick puppy when you know there is nothing that can make them feel better but you try anyway.
“Actually it was MAMA!” I screech as loudly and terribly as a parakeet squawking when it chokes on a nut. Not that I have ever witnessed one but I do remember a cartoon that depicted it quite vividly, hence the enactment.
“What? Why did he say that?” asked my girls rushing to find out what the commotion was all about. I catch Fravashi’s eyes gleaming with mischievous theories. Freny has that sly look, the one she gets when she feels she might be able to blackmail someone at a late date.
“Well, Frohar was a possessive little boy and he always felt that I was going to abandon him for another baby. He never let me carry another baby. So there was this one time that I had gone out to bid farewell and he was convinced I was abandoning him so he screamed, MAMA!” I squawked again like a parakeet in distress and my three children fell on the floor laughing. A unified chorus of, ‘again, again‘ got me to squawk three more times.
“That was the only time he ever said Mama and then when he started talking he said Dada first and then Mama. So I guess we better record his first word as Dada.”
“Nah! I’m writing this down and I’ll tell the whole class, this is awesome!!!” Frohar started writing frantically on his project.
That was an awesome memory that we created reliving an old one and I couldn’t help but go to bed that night with a smile. It brought to mind that happiness is found not in lavish homes but warm hearts, not in exotic locations but in the company of loved ones and it’s not bought with gifts but with the currency of time that we choose to spend with the ones we love.
Yes, Thursday carried on the high note that Wednesday had left off on. Which begs the question how many more little miracles, joys have we in our busy lives forgotten to jot down, enjoy and relish? Yes, this journal-writing endeavor is a good one, one that I hope to carry forward to the end of my days.