I grew up in a one bedroom house. Not because we were poor; but because it was the custom. It was not a small house by any means. It was two storeyed with a spacious courtyard. We had halls and rooms used for many different purposes. But for a family of four there was just one bedroom. All four of us would squeeze on the one king size bed in the room. If there were guest visiting, we would roll out extra mattresses or coir mats on the floor. Might sound odd today. But keeping up with traditional Indian houses we did not have a dining table or separate bedrooms for the family members. That house, where I spent my first 10 years and every house I lived in after that, until I went to college were the same. Except may be for the addition of a dining table in later years. In fact that is how it is in many households even today.
All of this came to me when I was watching the movie Papanasam over the weekend. The movie portrays the story of a close-knit family dealing with an unexpected tragedy. In the first half hour we see the family going through their daily lives, the affections, the arguments. In those scenes we see the parents sleeping in their own private bed, on dark blue sheets. Then the tragedy strikes. The next time we see those blue sheets on the screen again, the entire family is huddled on it together; the two daughters sandwiched between the mother and father. Little kids seeking safety in the nest, snuggling under the wings of the parents.
A very familiar huddle for me. Even today when I visit my parents’ home, my sister, I and our kids have a friendly banter over who gets to sleep next to my mother.
Oh, the stuff mothers and grandmothers are made of!
When I was a kid I was regularly sent off to my maternal grandparents’ place during summer vacations. The place was a dream land filled with books. Night times meant cuddling with my grandmother. She was very fair, skin almost the colour of milk and quite chubby. I would throw an arm and leg over her tummy and snuggle close to her as she told me bedtime stories.
The memories make me sigh. I try to think of the last time I cuddled up with my kids. The upper middle class life I live in a Metropolis has given them each their own rooms and they sleep on their own beds. When I drop in for a chat, there is usually room just to sit next to each other. And with both of them now taller than me, the midget of me wishes that time would reverse and make them toddlers again looking for any reason to come into our bed and snuggle between Mum and Dad.
We may be had less privacy growing up. But we also had less depression; less entitlement. Simple lives.
What am I saying? Isn’t it human nature to crave the bygones when they are bygones and wish them gone when they are very much around?!
Let me just say I miss my Grandmother and her milky white fat tummy and my Mom’s soft cheeks. Let me just say Hurray to cuddling up. Let me also admit that my kids would be happy to cuddle up any time given a chance. Co-sleeping is plain pleasure; not science. Here is a beautiful https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F222054944501171%2Fphotos%2Fa.341989902507674.80258.222054944501171%2F637255759647752%2F%3Ftype%3D3&width=500” target=”_blank”>Raghu Rai photograph that stands proof to that.
Feature image by Ray Hennessy in http://www.unplash.com