Stand at the door. Look at me.”
Three-year-old Naseem’s instructions to me as she is sitting on the pot in the bathroom. Making faces as she pushes. Doing her job.
I stand on the stone threshold, my shoulder resting on the door frame. I’m holding my morning cup of tea, sipping. If Naseem says look at me, then I must look at her.
I have just returned after a three-day work trip. A few days away from the family and already this feels like a privilege. Following precise orders delivered by a little woman on a pot as I nurse a cup of tea in my hand.
New year predictions: You will listen more. Photo: Thinkstock
“Tell me the story of a monkey and a snake,” she says.
“Which monkey?” I ask.
The baby monkey who fell from a tree.
“Which snake?” I ask.
“The big fat snake who was there,” she says. She uses her hands to show how fat, then quickly grabs the seat again.
“Then what happened?”
“The snake makes a phone call to the monkey’s father in his office,” she says.
“Was the monkey crying?”
“Yes, it was bawling, Mamma, Mamma. Oooh ooh!”
“How did the snake hold the phone?” I ask. “It doesn’t have hands.”
It will be a long time before I remember to ask Naseem if she has accomplished her purpose on the pot.
But wait. Oh my God. Isn’t it the 31st of December today? Happy New Year, dear reader!
It is amazing how long a day can be sometimes, yet the months whiz by like a rollicking train. And the years, the years are just on the run, man.
Today I have some super-accurate New Year predictions for you. In 2012, you will finally get that pedicure you have been meaning to get for a while now.
You will slow down.
Eat a lot more cake. Without the icing.
Take things less personally. Misunderstand less.
You will make friends with your body. Start now. Say, hello body, you are quite nice to hold. From here and from here. Body loves attention like that. It will glow. And want to do more things with you.
Little Naseem, my colleague in our work-from-home set-up, has caught up with me again.
“Mamma, come play with me,” she says.
“These are my working hours, sweetheart,” I say. “I have to work.”
“This is also your work,” she says, showing me her box of jigsaw puzzles.
“Oh yes, Naseem, you are right.”
In the new year, you will listen more. Listen better.
Do the same work in less time.
You will begin to become the boss. That is what you are born to do.
Many years ago, my wise friend Dawn and I were walking around Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi. She asked me about my love life.
“Is this the guy for you?” she asked about my boyfriend.
“Yes, I think so,” I said.
“How do you know?” she said.
“You know, Dawn, I feel very happy and secure when I am with him. And I am really miserable without him.”
We kept walking. I looked around for the best angles to take photographs.
“That doesn’t sound right, Natasha,” said Dawn. “Your relationship isn’t supposed to carry that load. You need to be happy and secure on your own.”
She made no sense to me then. I was in love and she didn’t understand.
I did store that conversation for future reference, though. It must be 12 years later today. I’m still in love in the same way, but what Dawn said makes perfect sense now. Urgent sense.
A lot more of this will happen in 2012. Old stories will come back, along with their simple lessons. You will pick them out of thin air and wear them like a cloak. Or a halo. Smile a wicked smile.
You will start writing your book. Singing your song. Walking your own path. You will choose your own bench.
You will learn to tell stories by letting your listener tell you her own story. You will have happy listeners.
Keep going. Even your mistakes have their purpose. Cross over into the new year, whistling your tune, leaving regrets behind.
Everyone you love will find you again.
Happy New Year. It will happen for you. And for me.
Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three.
Also Read | Natasha’s previous columns
Write to Natasha at firstname.lastname@example.org