The early bird

I hate worms. And I am happy being a late bird- I can handle leftovers. Early mornings are a big no-no for me. My favorite hour to leave the comfort of my bed is after 9 am. The feeling of laziness, getting a cup of tea (hopefully prepared by someone else), thinking naughty stuff, relaxed stretches.. दिल ढूंढता हैं फिर वही फुर्सत के रात दिन. But most of my life I have woken up to screaming alarms, fear of missing the rickshaw or bus, facing traffic, wondering what to make for breakfast and other such mundane things.

School started at 7.30 am and my तांगा वाला picked me up at 7 (crying “hilmil” with the J silent).  In the brrr cold Jodhpur weather, moving out from under the warmth of 3 blankets, and wearing the cold school uniform, felt horrible every day. The terrible weather forced me to learn the art of changing under the blanket, which I mastered. I just wish you could brush your teeth there, or maybe not brush at all.

Even college started at an indecent hour- 8 am. Having moved to driving myself on my purple Luna, braving the cold or the heat, I learnt to reach college on time.  For the first two classes, I was deadly silent, probably still in waking up mode and could only start blabbering after that. (Even today I don’t speak unless I have had my morning cuppa)

At least I could hope to sleep to my heart’s desire during holidays. But how could my Dad let that happen! He loved getting up early and liked everyone else to follow suit. He would make so much noise moving around at 6 am, his lean frame stomping around the house, running taps and flushes, banging cups and saucers, making his morning cup of tea (and at times waking me up to ask if I wanted some). Grrr. One day he woke me up at 5.30 am. What happened? Why are you waking me up at this unearthly hour? Come with me, I want to show you something. Rubbing my sleepy eyes and cursing him under my breath, I followed. “Do you hear this sound?” “Yes, it is a train.” “This is the superfast train that goes from x to y and has so many bogeys and this new feature and. ..” Did I tell you he was a train junky and would read railway timetables like Sherlock Holmes novels and loved to enlighten us dumb people. In fact he served as a railway enquiry for most neighbors and Bengali community.

When I started my career, office did start at 9 but my dear bus would arrive to pick me up at 7.30 am, thanks to the commute distances in Delhi. Back to the same old grind. Now I had to think of what to make, make breakfast, feed my husband and bro-in-law and myself all while making a dash to catch the bus. Then there was the time just before my son was born, where the hunger pangs would wake me up- the biscuits felt heavenly at 4 am.

So far so good. The situation came to a peak when my son was born. First couple of years, he firmly believed he was in the States and would sleep during the day and wanted to play in the night. After a full day at office, you are looking forward to a restful night. My husband would peacefully sleep through the night while I struggled to stay awake trying to put my wide awake son to sleep. Both of us did not enjoy the situation and my irritated self would force awake my husband, why don’t you play with him for a while? Forget getting up early, I used to be awake most of the night dragging myself out of the bed at 6.30 again to start getting ready for a sleepy day at office. Once my boss was giving a presentation post lunch and I promptly fell asleep through it sitting in the first row. Woke up only when he remarked- all those who wish to sleep can please leave. I had to appeal to his paternal sense to forgive me (and he did since he had a kid a month before and knew the pains).

And suddenly it was time for my baby to go to school. The routine turned topsy-turvy. Get up at 6, try to wake him up once, run to the kitchen to make his mid-day meal, try to wake him up second time, run back to kitchen to warm the milk, drag him out of bed third time, push him inside the washroom, stand outside and shout- Hurry up, you will miss the bus, finally open the washroom door and find him sleeping on the loo, force the brush into his mouth, run to the kitchen to fill the water bottle, come back and move the brush up and down, left and right, unclothe and push his shirt and knickers on while holding the glass of milk to his lips, run to get his school bag and locate his homework which had gone mysteriously missing (and which had to be submitted today), all the while muttering- we are going to miss the bus. Finally manage to shove him into the bus at 6.45, (we never actually missed the bus) come back exhausted, wanting to crawl back to bed again. But the day had already begun. If I did not leave home by 7.30, I would get caught in the Delhi traffic and would spend 2-3 hours on the road. My sis-in-law took a novel approach. She would get her son dressed up in school uniform in the night before going to bed. This was about 8 years later so could not reuse the idea.

Why can’t they have schools at a more decent hour like 10 am or so? Unfortunately the schools had their own way and never listened to my grumblings of annoyance.

Now my son is all grown up and at College and my office is about 10 minutes’ drive, I thought maybe now I will have that respite in my middle age. But no, either I have a 6 am flight to catch, or my FIL comes back from an early morning walk and decides to ring the bell because he forgot the key, or the phone rings because someone thought 6.30 is a lovely time to talk. (Not to forget the “Good morning” WhatsApp messages that make your morning worse) And if there is no external trigger, my bladder does the needful leaving me with no option but to rush and then sleep eludes and I toss and turn and finally decide to get up and look at the uninteresting emails flashing on the cell. What man!

They say- सुबह का सपना सच होता हैं. But then let me sleep and watch some सपने, my desire to sleep in the wee hours of the morning has remained a सपना only.


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