This series of short stories is based on real life experiences of a single mother. Seen through the eyes of a child, the stories present an account of childhood marked with an interesting blend of thoughts and feelings. The mother-daughter relational dynamics, their response to their environment and the mother’s perceptive approach as a parent – everything will win your heart. The stories underline the fact that a child can be totally happy, secure and confident in a single parent family. Happy reading!
Anu suddenly woke up scared and she almost cried.
“Mummy, is the plane falling from the sky?”
“No silly, we reached Boston. Plane is landing.” Anu put her nose to the glass window & looked outside. Slowly she could see the city. The long walk to the baggage claim section didn’t bother Anu because she had a good sleep in the plane. When they collected their luggage and came out, they looked at the people standing and waiting for their friends or relatives. Anu suddenly noticed her mawashi.
“Tai Mawashi, hello, we are here, look this way.”
Excited Anu ran to her mawashi and hugged her. She had a giggle when mawashi squeezed her tightly. She received lot of kisses on her cheeks. In Mawashi’s car Anu told her all about their journey from New Zealand. She told her about her best friend asking questions about her travel to Boston.
“Even if I am visiting you for the first time, I told her everything about Boston.”
“How did you know so much?”
“Mum gave me a book to read. I am 8 years old. I can read big books easily.”
They entered mawashi’s house through the garage. Mawashi’s husband, her two children were waiting for them. Her son Tej was one year older than her and daughter Suku was in high school. Anu went suddenly quiet and hid behind her mum.
“What’s wrong beta? Say hello to your cousins.”
“What happened to your voice? She was a chatterbox in the car.” Mawashi told her children.
“She is so cute.” Her cousin Suku said.
“Come on Anu. I will show you your room. Freshen up and eat something.” Mawashi held her hand & took them to a big bedroom. Anu was very quiet.
“Don’t you like it.?” Anu shook her head, gazing down.
Mawashi lifted her and put her on the bed. She sat down beside her & asked her,
“What’s wrong?” Anu started to cry silently.
“Mummy never told me that you were rich.”
“No, I am not.”
“Yes, you are. Your house is so big. Our house in New Zealand is as big as your living room.”
“So what? Size of a house doesn’t mean anything.”
“it does. We are poor.”
“No, you are not. You are my favourite niece. How can you be poor? “Mawashi cuddled her tight. Kissed her again.
“You are a clever girl for you age. Aren’t you?”
Mum came out of the bathroom looking all fresh. She helped Anu with her shower. Both of them came to the dining room. It was a huge room again, it had a big dining table, huge cupboards with beautiful crockery in it. There was a living area in that dining room. It had a chandelier and beautiful long curtains. Mum told Anu those were drapes. Anu’s eyes were going round and round the room. That room and the kitchen opened up to the swimming pool.
“I want to swim. Where’s my swim suit?” Anu ran outside and realised that it was very cold. She came inside again. Her cousins were laughing at her.
“Our house is centrally airconditioned. So, it gets heated in winter. That’s why you didn’t realise it was this cold. We will warm the water tomorrow. Then you can swim.”
After eating, Suku showed Anu their whole house.
“Do you get tired everyday walking in your house?”
“You are funny.”
“My friend has a bigger house than ours. When I grow up, I will buy a bigger house than him.” Her cousin Tej said. Suku made a face at him. She took Anu to her room. Every room in that house had a bathroom attached. Suku told her it is called as ensuite.
“Your wardrobe is so big.” Anu touched most of the clothes in that wardrobe. Suku gave her a nice jacket to wear.
“It is one of old jackets. It doesn’t fit me anymore. It looks good on you. You can have it.” Anu couldn’t believe it. It was such as a cute little jacket. She ran to her mum,
“Look mum, what Suku gave me…”
“You are looking like a new Anu. Come to my wardrobe. I have some gifts for you.” Mawashi said.
“Come mummy, let’s look at the gifts.”
“I will be there soon. I will tidy up the kitchen a bit.”
“Don’t worry about it. Our housekeeper will be here any minute” said Mawashi.
Anu loved Mawashi’s bedroom. She wanted to jump on the bed but she knew that her mum won’t like that. She noticed that bathroom was so posh. Then Mawashi opened another door and said,
“Welcome to my wardrobe.”
Anu couldn’t believe her eyes. It was like opening door to a treasure island. She couldn’t even see the room in one go. She had to turn sideways to see the full length of the room. There were clothes, jewellery, shoes and handbags everywhere & few mirrors. She started touching and handling things.
“Careful beta” Mum always have to say something like this. Doesn’t she?
“I am just looking.”
“Let her do it. Anu, you can have whatever you want.”
“Really? Oh…my god. Thank you. Mummy you can take this handbag. And look at this top! Take it. It will look good on you.”
“Anu…leave it. This is not a shop.”
“But you never buy clothes like this. All we do is to go to the warehouse and buy same type of clothes every year. Boring clothes.”
“Anu stop it. Let’s go to bed. You must be tired.”
“No, I am not tired. I want to look.”
Mum looked angry. Anu started to cry.
“Don’t scold her. I want my gorgeous niece to be happy. If you don’t want anything you can go.”
Next hour Anu was busy in creating a small mountain of things she selected from that wardrobe.
Mawashi gave her a small suitcase but things won’t fit in it. Then they transferred those things to a bigger one. At the end of this expedition, Anu was tired.
“Where is my mummy?” In that big house she started to look for her mum. She couldn’t find her.
“Don’t be worried. She is in the basement.”
“What is a basement?” Suku took her to the basement. There was a whole house in the basement. Her mum was watching a movie with Tej. It was in an Indian language and it was a comedy. They both were laughing.
“Mum, I am tired.”
“You can sleep here or go upstairs and sleep in our bedroom.”
Anu came upstairs with a sad face.
“Are you sleepy? Come I will tuck you in.” Mawashi helped to get in the bed. Read her a story and Anu was asleep.
Next 2 weeks Mawashi took Anu everywhere with her. She had her own business. She took Anu to her business. Anu visited her cousin’s school. Mawashi asked her if she wants to study in that school. Anu’s eye went big with surprise. She was allowed to sit there for few hours as her cousin’s guest. At first, they laughed at her accent but then played with her. One day mawashi took her shopping. Her mum protested by saying she has already done her shopping in the ‘Wardrobe Shop’. Luckily for Anu, no one listened to her mum. Anu liked the car. It was ‘luxurious’. She recently learnt that word from a magazine on the plane.
In the shop, Mawashi asked Anu,
“Do you like America?”
“Is this America?”
“I like it a lot. It is so much fun.”
“What about our house?”
“It is so cool. So many things to play with. Tej has all the games and cool things.”
“Do you want those? I can buy for you.”
When they came home, they had another mountain of things to pack. Mum didn’t look happy. She even said those things were unnecessary. She protested by saying she won’t be able to keep on buying these kinds of things for Anu back home.
“Why don’t you migrate here?”
“What is migrate?”
“Anu, don’t interfere when people are talking.”
“Migrate means shifting to a new country. I am saying to your mum to leave New Zealand & come here permanently to stay with us.”
“Really? So cool. Mum, please say yes.”
“I have a good job back in Auckland and as a single parent it is easier for me to manage there. It is rather a small country. Everyone knows everyone.”
“But here you’ve got me. And look at Anu, she needs family.”
“I cannot leave my job just like that. There is a proper notice period. I lived in that country for like 10 years now. It will take some time to uproot myself again.”
That night mum tucked her in the bed and sat by her.
“Mum, you are so lucky. Your sister is so rich.”
“Do you think we are poor?”
“Yes, I do.” Anu said in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Are you not reading me a story tonight mum?”
Mum started telling her story of Cinderella. She told about the fairy godmother who gave Cinderella so many things. The rule was to return home before midnight. Anu knew the story by heart but she liked to hear it from mum. By the time 12 o’clock struck in the story Anu was asleep. Mum sadly looked at Anu’s innocent face. Does Anu’s little mind like to live here because of her cousins and mawashi or she loves the clothes and the shoes?
Anu woke up. She heard people talking.
“Remember you are doing it for Anu. How long are you going to struggle financially?”
“Who told you we were struggling? I am able to pay my bills. Anu is happy.”
“She doesn’t know anything else. She saw the difference when she came here. Have you forgotten the family we came from? Our children deserve well off family. You are doing your best but I think that Anu needs a better country and better education.”
“What are you saying?”
“Anu needs family.”
“But we are a family.”
“Now you are being stubborn. You know that is not true. “
“Tai, you need to come out of the traditional thinking and look at me as an independent single mother who can raise her child without a man.”
“That is another thing I was going to talk about. We think you should get married again. Or migrate here. A child needs a proper family”
“Have you ever asked me how my life in New Zealand is? We live in our little house. We have a garden and nice neighbours & friends. Library is just across the street. Anu’s school is at a walking distance. My employer is considerate about school timings. Anu has got good friends. She is happy.
“I think you take your time to resign from your job and pack up. But leave Anu with us. I will enrol her in the school. She liked Tej’s school yesterday. I left her there for 4 hours.”
“What? I thought she was with you. Why are you trying to make decisions for me? This is why I am happier in New Zealand. I have freedom to make my own decisions, my own mistakes.”
“You are a mother now. You can’t make mistakes.”
“Tai, maybe I don’t want to migrate. We are happy there.”
“Anu, do you want to come here and live with us?” No one noticed until then that little Anu was standing in the door.
Excited Anu said, “Yes!” She knew that mum will never say no if she is ready. Mum looked a bit surprised,
“You won’t miss your friends & school?”
Anu shook her head.
“See, she is a clever girl. She will get everything here and more. You don’t worry about her.”
“We are due to fly tomorrow sweetie. Are you really sure you want to stay? I might not be able to come here for a while. Or might decide not to come.”
“But you always say you won’t be able to live without me” Anu put her arms around her mum.
Mum didn’t say anything. She hugged her tightly and carried her back to the bed.
“Did you complete the story mum?” It made mum smiled.
“You know the story by heart.”
“Yes, her carriage turned back into a pumpkin, the footmen turned back into lizards, the coachman turned back into a rat, and her gorgeous dress turned back into rags.”
After a moment of thinking, Anu asked her mum,
“Why does that happen to Cinderella?”
“Because Cinderella knows that she will have to earn her own riches. Someone else’s riches cannot be hers. That’s why she decided to study and get a big job & earn lot of money, buy a big house….”
“Mum are you changing the story?”
“Remember beta there is so much happiness in earning your own money than getting it for free. We will talk about it later. Have a goodnight. See you tomorrow before I leave.”
“Are you excited to go back mum?”
“I will be sad to leave you here but Anu New Zealand is our home. I am sure that we have a good life there but if you choose to live here then that’s fine with me. I will be lonely without you and I will miss you.”
“Are you crying mum? Won’t you be coming back?”
“I don’t think so. I won’t have money to buy ticket every time” Mum went to bed.
Anu was pretty sure mum was crying. She closed her eyes and thought about their life back home. It was perfect until she came here. But if mum won’t be here then what will happen to her? She likes her mawashi but she loves her mum. She thought about what mum said – Cinderella knew she had to earn her riches.
Next day when it was time for Mum to go, both of them came out of their room with the suitcases. Anu hugged her mawashi.
“Sorry mawashi, I have to go. If I stay here my mum won’t have anyone. She will miss me. I will come back again to visit you.”
They all came to the airport. Everyone was hugging each other and getting emotional. Then mum said that their gate is open.
Anu hold her mum’s hand, “Let’s go home mum.”
They both smiled and walked through the gate.
Anagha Kawley, Auckland, New Zealand
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