Balancing act ~ 2

Last night I encountered a gray African parrot  at a friends place. The parrot belongs to his father, who is a bird aficionado, and Raju, the African gray, has been around for many years. I walked over to his cage for a closer look and he immediately bristled and turned away, wary of newcomers, but I whistled to reassure him of my friendliness.

His feathers settled down and he slowly turned around to inspect me with an unblinking birdy eye, head cocked to one side. Then he whistled back. I whistled again. He whistled too.

‘Hello birdy,’ I said.

‘Hello!’ said Raju.

‘Helloooo….’ I repeated, stunned.

‘Hellooo!’ said Raju.

Needless to say, I would have been quite content to hang with Raju the remainder of the evening, shooting the breeze, but etiquette demanded I socialize with my human friends. I’m told Raju does a great imitation of friend’s Dad, repeating an idiosyncratic phrase in his exact voice, calling out to the chowkidars loudly,  ‘Javaiiiiiid…..’…..’Mukhtiaaaaar….’. He also greets everyone with a chirpy ‘Good morning’ every day.

I had a cup of very good coffee, as a result of which I had trouble falling asleep. (This is the first time I actually put two and two together)

Consequently, I woke up later than usual. Huz said he woke up during the night and heard me making strange purring sounds as I slept and he wondered what I was dreaming of. It was so weird to be told I was doing something I was completely unaware of doing. He was so amused.

Amu has been agitated of late. I watched as she paced the rug yesterday, going in circles as she followed the border pattern.

‘Have you ever considered that I might actually really need to see a therapist?’ she asks.

‘Nonsense, therapists are useless. I can do a better job of sorting you out,’ say I, the bird whisperer.

We sat on my bed and talked for an hour, girl to girl. Turns out I’m not the only one with friend woes in this family. Turns out I’m not the only one who over thinks things and drives herself crazy. And apparently she is just like her mother, tears spilling over as she gets emotional.

My concern for Amu’s emotional well-being is visceral. If she is troubled, I am troubled, as simple as that. No one gave me a handbook for parenting an only kid. When I was growing up, I didn’t seek out my mother to confide in or discuss my problems with…..I had my sisters. Apparently people who have sisters tend to be happier and more optimistic, simply because of the connection they feel when they talk. Sometimes I feel crushed when I think that Amu’s long-lasting happiness and optimism have been sabotaged, because we didn’t provide her with any. It is a sadness I carry around with me.

Not a lot of people I know can understand the intensity of the balancing act I do, trying to be both mother and sister.

The good thing is, Amu talks to Huz too, albeit of different things. We hang together as a family. That doesn’t mean Amu isn’t a moody, broody teenager, but I’m pleased to report she isn’t closed off to us, just because we’re parents.

I tell Amu to keep calm and eat chocolate. I know she doesn’t like chocolate, but I wish she did. I had made hot cocoa the other night and it sure had a therapeutic effect on me.

Sometimes I wish I was less goofy and weird, but it is the idiotic things I babble that make Amu giggle. As for me, I just felt absolutely relieved to see the clouds on her head dissipate. She bounced off the bed and ran off to scribble things in her diary. Later that night, as we were driving to aforementioned friends place, I heard my phone beep. There was a text message on it that said, ‘I love you loadz nice parents of mine.’


  1. berlioz1935 says:

    This little story shows what a well rounded person, and mother, you are. You seem to balance your life very well.

    1. Munira says:

      Well, thank you so much for saying this Peter. Balancing is tricky but I must rise to the challenge! I recognize the importance of my role in Amu’s life, but I have to be careful not to be overly protective or overly attentive. I don’t want her to grow up spoilt. There’s another advantage of multiple kids…no one gets to be the primary focus of parental attention! That can be quite unnerving for any child.

  2. Kathy says:

    This story moved me very much, Munira. So many thoughts bubbling around in this head. I never had sisters–and neither did my daughter–and, yes, it seems more challenging to grow up without being able to share in that relaxed way and knowing you’ll somehow be accepted no matter what. My mom never had sisters either, nor did my grandma. How odd. You’re lucky your little chick isn’t rebelling. Mine did. It was awful for many years and now we’re best friends again.

    1. Munira says:

      Brothers are good too, aren’t they? I don’t have any so I can’t reflect on the special brother-sister bond some people are lucky to have 🙂 I see my nieces and nephews and they all seem to get along so lovingly. Makes me sad for Amu, but I try really hard to make up for the lack and thankfully, we seem to have evolved atypically. The other day she mused that I might be her soulmate 🙂 Well, one of them at least!
      I just worry about her being a lonely little kitten in the big bad world. It seems EVERYONE has siblings!
      I’m really glad you and your chick are best friends again Kathy and hope it stays that way forever 🙂

  3. Aaaw…as a fellow Mom of single child I understand instantly you’re dilemma. But I also know that you’ve done a brilliant job raising an intelligent, creative and sensitive teen. Kudos to you and Huz and Amu for that! She doesn’t like chocolate?! She’s like me! Does she love chips?!

    I would have happily spent the evening with Raju too! Just saying…animals over humans anyday 😉 How old is he? African grays live long lives 🙂 Long Live Raju!

    1. Munira says:

      I just worry that Amu will resent the burden of caring for aging parents all by her lonesome, no one to crack inside jokes with to lighten tough times. I guess Huz and I will have to try and not be cantankerous old geezers, eh? 😛 You’re one of the very few who can instantly understand. ❤
      As for chocolate, she'll eat it sometimes and only certain kinds (like Kitkat) and how can she not love chips?! Aakhir beti kis ki hai?? 😛
      Raju is 12 I think! Did you click on the link? Learnt so much about these birds! Based on this one encounter, I'm a huge fan already!

      1. She loves Kit Kat?! We are kindred spirits 😊 She won’t be resentful but she will get crabby coz she won’t be young chicken herself then will she?! Which is allowed hai na? 😛

        I wonder about how I will be when I’m as old as my parents, presuming I live that long of course 😛 Somehow I think our generation will be less dependant if we manage to stay physically healthy, you know what I’m saying? We have the Net, we have a virtual reality, we have interests other than our children…tell me I’m right and this is not wishful thinking because, I truly need to hear it from a kindred spirit!

        I’ve loved Gray parrots forever…they are extremely intelligent creatures! I saw them for the first time at The Singapore Zoo way back when my parents were there 🙂

        1. Munira says:

          I hope to God you’re right H!!!! I’ve promised Amu we’ll never get old 🙂

  4. Heather says:

    I’ve since grown a good deal closer to my mom, but growing up I was a daddy’s girl. I kept things to myself; I’ve always preferred sorting myself out. But I’ve always known Mom (and Dad) was there if I needed her. I’ve got an older sister who I love dearly, but we were just not close growing up. Don’t kick yourself too hard. Sometimes siblings love each other, but don’t provide much comfort.
    Also, hang tight to that goofy and weird side. I find it endearing 🙂 (And your daughter does, too, apparently….and perhaps so do all the birds you seem so eager to collect!)

    1. Munira says:

      I’m glad you’re closer to your mom, but it’s really sweet that you were close to your dad, Heather 🙂 How much older is your sister to you? My eldest is 7 yrs older, then there’s the second who is 4 yrs elder to me. My third sibling is 5 yrs younger. I don’t know if it’s closeness so much as it is the common history we share, the deep knowledge of always being able to count on each other, the unconditionality of our relationship. Through all my teenage friend woes, at least I had the solace of coming home from school to a house full of fellow travellers.

  5. Lovely story. Quirky Mum’s are best anyway. You see, at least Amu knows she hasn’t got a dull Mum. That would be a nightmare. 🙂
    I went to see my parents recently, still around happily, I learned that as a child my Mum used to practice weightlifting. What ?! She promptly jumped up and in her 78-ness demonstrated a snatch and jerk right there. Laughed till we cried. I’m sure you’ll be the same. Stay quirky. 😉

    1. Munira says:

      I come from quirky stock, and so do you! Your Mum and my kid sister should be friends 🙂 🙂
      Amu brings out the quirk in me. I’d probably have killed myself by now if I was dull! Sometimes I think our relationship would have been very different if she had siblings. But I love the way we are, and I think it’s important for me to just live in the present and not think about the future, especially it not being all gloom and doom 😛 It is very easy to succumb sometimes though 😐

  6. Ah joys of parenting! 🙂 You are a good mom Munira!

  7. Sue Slaght says:

    You sound like a wonderful mother. So aware of your words and actions. Lovely.

    1. Munira says:

      Thank you Sue. Your comment made me a bit emotional :’)

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