At various points of time in my life, I have been given various nicknames, most of which epitomize my completely unnecessary and often maniac need for speed.
I was nicknamed Engine by my friends and colleagues in my first job, likened to the Energizer Bunny advertisement by my kind family and got the developmental feedback during a 360 degree appraisal survey that I always seemed to be in tearing hurry. I had no time for small talk or for rest. So much so that my husband, with his usual laidback Bengali preferences for adda, music, sleep and food, not necessarily in that order, said that my weekend heightened levels of activity drove him to such dizziness that he needed to calm himself down with a long dose of sleep.
My mother recalls that my favourite question to her when I was young was “Ma, what shall I do now?” She, it seems, had tried valiantly to give me tasks to complete to keep me occupied but she had not accounted for my devilish speed. Until one fine day, she hit upon the bright idea of getting me hooked onto books and music. Strangely books and music were the only 2 things that calmed me down, that made me stop and wonder and be content to spend hours at a stretch lost in their depth.
But if it was not for books and music, I was always on the run. The first person to finish the exams and run out of the exam hall, the compulsive planner with a packed calendar of tasks to be done, the boringly punctual attendee to meetings only to realize that the person calling for the meeting has not yet turned up, the person in office always stuck with endless, and often useless chores, because the bosses at work realize the unspoken question “What should I do now” that I probably still show on my face even now.
Of course, being a working mom has only intensified my speed craze. With a 100 thoughts running in my head at dizzying speed, I dash about in a craze to meet all my self-laid deadlines and also to make some time for my 2 treasured habits – books and music. I speak fast, eat fast, read fast, type fast and walk fast.
All was fine, so I thought, till I met my match. A 6 year old with a mind of her own and complete disregard for speed. My daughter, I shake my head in vain.
Whether it was just God’s way of getting back at me or whether it is because she just happens to be a creative Gemini, I will never know, but my daughter never seems to be in any hurry. While brushing her teeth, she remembers an amazing dance move she that she has to show me right then. During dinner time, she recalls a funny joke her friend told her, which takes precedence over the food. When its time to leave home for her school or daycare or a party, she realizes the shorts and t-shirt painstakingly laid out by me in the morning do not match her keen fashion sensibilities. And the list continues.
My usual instructions and requests for speed are met with cute smiles, nods and endless questions but not an iota of action. Always a talker in my sleep, nowadays, I sometimes repeat these instructions to her in my sleep in the middle of the night. “Take your bath”, “Brush your teeth”, “Wear your shoes" are few of the instructions that I am heard uttering in my sleep by my long-suffering husband.
So I have finally met my match in my daughter.
Lost in the dream world of creativity, questions and parties, she has just no time for mundane instructions for speed. Of course, she never asks me the question I asked my mother “What shall I do now?” She has plenty of time to figure it out herself.
Well, she is finally forcing me to stop and ask the question I never bothered to ask. What‘s the hurry? Where am I headed? Am I being the hare in an imaginary race with myself? Am I searching for my true tortoise self?
And as I turn to more books and more music to steady my mind, I share them with her, not to slow her down but just to assuage her need for creativity. At least I can give her this and hopefully never burden her with my speed craze.