We were at a party of sorts where good friends gathered for the evening with families. Adults, senior adults, teenagers, tweens, kids all jostled together happy to see one another.
The children got eating out of the way as soon as they could, and started playing in that vigorous fashion that makes me want to drop everything and join them.
People with food on their plates drifted like continents and grouped and regrouped for conversations. At one point, I found myself amidst septuagenarians talking about sleep, or lack thereof. “Go on and tell them how little I sleep!”, said the father-in-law to me.
“He does have difficulty falling asleep…”, I said carefully, casting a longing look at the children playing outside.
He gave me a wilting look for this lame endorsement, and decided to stick it out on his own.
“I was never like this. I cannot sleep these days. I used to sleep the moment my head touched the pillow.” he said
“Me too” agreed an uncle.
“It would take sometime to fall asleep, but once I did, I could sleep well without interruptions.” said an aunt.
“How many times can one turn this way and that? How many times to say our prayers?”
“It is such a big problem. What do you think we should do?” they asked, looking at me earnestly.
Sometimes, I get when it is a rhetorical question, and nod. Other times, I behave like a particularly dimwitted penguin, and start telling an ostrich how to bury its head in the sand. I go on to make comparisons between the similarities in nature between sand and snow and how it is all a matter of technique.
“Well, sometimes when I am excessively tired, I find a hot bath before bed helps.” I said.
“I take a hot bath every night. Nothing helps.” my father-in-law said looking miserable. All the senior adults agreed: Baths were elementary stuff.
The squeals from the garden indicated an energetic game of hide-n-seek in progress. I glanced to see a squealing army run towards the washing machine – apparently somebody saw one of them go there to hide, and everybody was running to investigate.
By now, more folks had joined in the conv. Herbal teas were discussed next as aides to that Elusive Soother of Souls, Sleep. Chamomiles, lavenders and orange blossoms wafted their scents in. In time, the topic had slid down the tea slopes and gone on to meditation as a technique.
“I find I worry if I have nothing to worry about”, said an aunt, and smiled wanly. “One day, I saw 2 o’clock and was so disgusted”, said she.
“But it cannot be as bad as mine. The other day, I saw 3 o’clock on the clock. 3 o’clock can you believe it?.”
My father in law said he saw 3:10, while another uncle said 3:30.
They all looked at me to declare the winner. Braver generals could have taken on the task, maybe, but I confess I shrank from the task. These individuals who would happily set themselves to lose in a game against their grandchildren were now competing for The Most Ardent Sufferer Award, and I wasn’t going to be the one to decide. Nu-Uh.
I quietly slipped into the garden, to see the children were all running strictly following the principles of Brownian motion. They ran onto the lawn and tumbled over, and ran again. The setting sun washed them all aglow. The grass on their beautiful clothes, the dirt on their cheeks, the sweat pouring down their faces, and their squeals of laughter made a marvelous sight.
The evening slowly wound down, and we gathered all the folks up and started back on the ride home. The children were giggling still, while the senior citizens in the car were discussing the food in detail.
The Payasam was very good.
The bondas could have been hotter
The rice was good, and the curd-vada …Some of them were soaked nicely, others needed some more time to soak.
One thing, everybody seems to not be able to sleep, they said with satisfaction.
I glanced at the children. One had already fallen asleep, and the other was nodding off.
Wynken Blynken & Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe
Sailed in river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew…..
“Did you make sure the children ate well?”, their solicitous grandmother asked me.