Lavinia’s ‘chorukoduppu’

It is almost two in the morning. I set the alarm for 730. We didn’t plan on staying up this late but we were having such a good time that we stayed a bit longer than anticipated.

Five birthdays in one. That was the idea. Five of Anitha’s team mates are turning fifty this year. Anitha is the youngest of the lot and her birthday is in December. One of the girls died soon after her birthday recently. She was battling breast cancer but kept running marathons and raising money for charity till the very last. So in the end it was four birthdays and a celebration of one life.

We arrived as the party was getting underway. Anitha introduced us to her colleagues and friends. Lakshmi decided that she was not interested and clung on to her dad. Lavinia started bobbing as soon as she heard the music and wanted to come out of her carry cot. Soon the DJ’s assistant got everyone on the dance floor to follow his steps. We had tambourines and maracas to helps us boogie. I had Lavinia and so didn’t have to worry about what to do with my hands. Lakshmi soon joined in. We danced the night away to ‘Funky town’ and ‘Daddy cool’. It was well past eleven before we decided that we should be making a move. Folkestone is a good hour and a half drive from home and it was almost one in the morning when we got back home. Lakshmi stayed the night and I will need to get her ready in the morning as well.

I woke up just before the alarm went off and so did Lakshmi. It’s Lavinia’s second biggest day in her little life. She’s having her rice giving ceremony at the ‘Murugan Temple’. We leave the house after ten.

At the temple we do a Ganapathi archana before getting ready for the rice giving ceremony. Lavinia starts crying just as the function begins. We haven’t bonded that much yet as Lakshmi takes up most of my time. Her mother picks her up but she carries on crying. I stretch my arms towards her and she turns toward me. I pick her up and she stops crying. The priest gives her the payasam once the prayers are said and then it is our turn to feed her. She continues to cry. I put a sliver of the dessert on to her tongue. She starts chewing it.

We have time for some masala chai and dosas at ‘Saravana bhavan’ before we make our way back home. Lakshmi decides to come home with us. She doesn’t like being restrained in her car seat especially when she is tired. She cries for awhile and then perks up when distracted. She tells ‘Emmi’, “Lakshmi is a good girl, Lakshmi stopped crying”. “You are allowed to cry Lakshmi, if you need to”, I tell her as she slips off to sleep. Apparently hunger, anger, loneliness and tiredness (HALT) are the reasons that cause children to cry. She hasn’t had her full quota of sleep and continues to sleep till I wake her up after a couple of hours.

We go for a walk around the block and take Eddie, Emmi’s twin, in his pushchair. When we get back she wants to play at home rather than go for a swim. In the evening she makes me sit with her on the stairs as I give her her dinner. In between I get an impromptu hug which goes on for more than a few seconds followed by a very cheeky grin. Last night she started crying when we got home as her sleep was disturbed and she only stopped crying when I started singing some nursery rhymes. For someone who cannot sing I think it is a massive achievement. I give her her evening bath and take her back home. Lavinia is wide awake and all smiles when I get there. These happy moments are my treasured memories and I tuck them away for safe keeping.

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