Yesterday , N asked me during lunch , “Mama , can we get married at the age of 21 years?”. I didn’t understand the purpose of her question. Thinking it was related to something she was reading about, I answered “yes’.
“Why are you asking me this question?” I asked her curiously.
“I’m making this book about a girl’s life, from birth to 10 years, to 19 years and so on..so, I wanted to know if she can get married at 21 years old”. she asked me so innocently.
I looked at her collage that she was creating, of cartoons of a girl, The paper was divided into a grid and there were illustrations drawn in each of the box with a heading. The first one read ‘born’ and the next read ‘at 10 years’. It was of a kid sitting in a chair in the classroom raising her hand, trying to get the attention of the teacher. The teacher’s picture was small while the girl in the chair, hers looked big. I told her, “the little girl looks bigger than the teacher”.
“That’s because the teacher is far away and the girl is closer”, she said.
The next box, had the heading of 19 years old and there was like a conference table with chairs around and people sitting around it. There was also a teacher at the board talking to the group. The girl was supposed to be in college. The illustration in this box looked so detailed. I told her, “this is very good”.
I asked her, “Is the name of the girl by any chance N? Is her last name P?” She answered “yes”.
The next box, was that of the girl getting married. The triplets had been watching our wedding pictures that morning. There is this part of the wedding where the bride and groom are made to sit in front of each other but, for the curtain between them. They are not allowed to see each others’ face until the auspicious ceremony when the paste of tamarind and jaggery is glued on the bride’s head and the grooms'.
This sticky paste is supposed to signify our life after marriage, that, there will be sweet and sour moments and we should deal with them and move on. Yes! Indian weddings, especially south Indian weddings, are a very messy affair for the couple getting married. By the end of the wedding , the bride and groom are smeared with first the sticky paste, then comes the haldi (uncooked rice mixed with saffron), and then the red kumkum and rice as blessing for the bride and groom by each of the guests who come on the podium to wish the new couple.
Of all the pictures that N watched that morning..that picture where there is a curtain in between the bride and the groom caught N’s attention. That’s how she drew her wedding picture. Then the next picture was of a hospital setting where the mother is on the bed and a baby is in her arms. So cutely, she told me, ‘this is the picture I love the most “. “I love the face of the mother , she looks so nice”. The mother that she drew in the picture indeed had a very beautiful smile.
I asked her, “Is that a boy baby or a girl baby?”
She proudly answered,” I’m going to predict that it is going to be a boy baby and a very annoying boy.”
All of us at the table burst out laughing at this.
The next picture was of the mother lying in the bed..with her hand folded under her head and a crib beside the bed with a baby in it. The heading said “resting”. Wow! I didn’t know I made the job of mothering my kids seem so easy..It feels like “Resting” to her.
Also, now I know why she had been asking me “ can we find a job when we are 42 years old? How will I find a job? How will I find a teacher’s job? ” She wants to be a kindergarten teacher.
I then enlightened her about looking for advertisements either on the internet or the newspapers in a section called the ‘Jobs’. That was the last picture in the collage. It showed the girl shaking hands with another person. That was N’s picture of being at work, that, one needs shaking hands with your colleagues. Maybe from her memory of the day she and her sisters, spent with her dad at his work place on “take your kids to work” day.
All in all, that was such a beautiful collage and it made me happy to know that she had college, education, marriage, kids, and then finding a job on her agenda.