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Mumma’s Bindis (VI)

Spring is finally here! Time to get the deck furniture out, fill up the birdfeeder, run outside to catch the dandelions and smell the fresh
springtime memories
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It takes a village to raise your kids, and it takes a global village to raise your children. Through this series, “Mumma’s Bindis”, the author shares the stories of the joys of raising two young children in a humanist culture.  The central characters of this series are Urja (nickname Momo) and Ujaan, growing up in a Midwestern college town in North America. Born from the hearts of immigrant parents, they ferry between their hyphenated identities spread across two continents. Mumma’s Bindis is the reality of children rooted to the soil they come from yet adapting every day to the dichotomies of the world they belong.  A mother recounting the bliss and dares of motherhood. This is the sixth episode of this series. 

When less is more

Spring is finally here! Time to get the deck furniture out, fill up the birdfeeder, run outside to catch the dandelions and smell the fresh air. As Didi was helping Mumma clean the deck chairs, Ujaan poured yellow, white, and brown seeds into the birdfeeder with his little hands. Suddenly he hears Mumma scolding Didi “Urja, please don’t waste….” Sure enough, Didi was sprinkling fistfuls of bird food on the deck railings. “Oh no, she will be in trouble” thought Ujaan! During such times, Didi usually gives a sheepish smile, but today instead she looked up at Mumma with her big eyes “It’s for the squirrels, Ma…..they can’t reach through the small hole in the feeder… see, they don’t have beaks!” Ujaan knows Mumma is going to laugh and cry at the same time now.

springtime birdfeeder
Sprinkling bird food on the railings for squirrels.

With spring, everything seems wrapped in happy surprises. The birds were singing this morning as Ujaan sipped tea from his tiny Gaudi cup instead of his usual milk with Complan. After breakfast when he was expecting one sheet of math, came the second surprise “you can sketch today, whatever you feel like.” Didi, in her own room, was happily chatting away with her imaginary friends. So Ujaan started sketching, first a self-portrait of himself riding a pony, and then he let his imagination soar on this lovely spring day…..why not get inside a rocket and go whoosh into space?

As they were doing somersaults in the front yard, getting their hands and feet muddy, came the call for lunch! Yummy daalpuri and chicken followed by Klondike ice-cream (the kind that has a bear walking on the wrapper). Surely now will come the math for him, and vocab for Didi, he thought!! Instead, surprise again, third time in a row: “do you want to go biking?” With lightning speed, Ujaan and Didi grabbed their red and purple helmets, and before Mumma could finish her sentence “in the neighborhood”, they were zooming past Carly’s house on their bicycles. Mumma with her cup of tea in one hand was trailing far behind, so Ujaan and Didi had to stop every once in a while to let Mumma catch up. Sometimes they stepped on their brakes and had a little conference side by side on their bikes, sometimes they picked up pine cones, and one time they stopped to stroke Mr. Ramsey’s puppy. Mr. Ramsey is kind of weird, but his puppy is utterly butterly cute. “I am happy it’s not the other way round”, said Didi.

biking in the neighbourhood
Biking in the neighborhood and waiting for Mumma to catch up.

Mickey Mouse indoor ball turned into a soccer ball as the afternoon was slowly sliding towards dusk. Didi sat with a whole bowl of salsa and chips as Ujaan kicked the ball into the air, trying to catch the sky with his laughter! “Surely, this spring thing is magic”, he thought. And indeed it is, otherwise how would the ducks at Gallup Park know that it is time for their popcorn treats? 

Glossary of terms:

Didi: elder sister in Bengali.
Complan: a powdered milk energy drink popular in India.
Daalpuri: a deep-fried flatbread stuffed with lentils, originating from Bengal.

Mousumi Banerjee is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan (USA). She lives in a world of science, trying to make sense of data to take cancer research and treatment forward. But her passion and affinity for the arts gives her sustenance and counterbalances her work as a scientist. Mousumi writes in both Bangla and English. Her work has been published in many literary magazines in USA, India, and Bangladesh, including Telegraph, BanglaLive, Keyapata, TechTouchটক, Antonym, Sahitya Café, Irabotee, Golpopath, Swinhoe Street, Batayan, Parabaas, Manush Mecca. A rare feat is her poetry “White Noise” published in the leading medical journal (Journal of the American Medical Association) that gives a humanistic face to cancer. Her collected poems Eklaghor (Room Alone) was published in Kolkata by Yaponchitra. Mousumi lives with her family in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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