Confessions of a Cereal Reminiscer

From the age of two through eleven, I lived in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, with my parents. They’re both Economists, and were then employed at a reputed research institute in the city. I was a quiet kid, mostly minding my own business. As a single child, keeping myself engaged came almost naturally to me. I remember times when I’d long for a sibling; for the most part, though, I was content with my own company. This is, of course, not to say that my parents neglected me. Quite the contrary.

We arrived at Thiruvananthapuram one fine March – a couple of months too early to be enrolled at school. I was promptly put in a creche where a nice old lady kept an eye on me while my parents were away at work. My parents would pick me up in the evening, and we’d walk home together.

Later that year, I was admitted to my first school. The mornings were my favorite part of the day. My mom would wake me. My dad and I would then sit on the porch, eating cereal, as we gazed at passersby and discussed the day that was going to be. We continued our discussion on our way to the bus stop where I’d board the school bus.

I loved school. I was extremely outgoing; I made a ton of great friends, was loved by my teachers, and got picked for EVERYTHING – from being the class monitor to being Sleeping Beauty in the school play (it was a big deal then)!

My parents encouraged me at everything. My mom would be with me backstage, getting me dressed for the part. Both of them would then be in the front row, their faces beaming. At every event. Without exception.

Raising a child when both of them were working must have been difficult, but my parents made it look real easy. My school ended at 4 pm every day, and the bus dropped me at my parents’ office, just a couple of blocks away from home. A large campus surrounded the institute, which also housed faculty quarters (we ourselves lived off campus). All the kids here went to the same school as I.

As soon as I got off the bus, I ran to my mom’s office, where she’d be waiting with snacks and a change of clothes. Swallowing my food whole as I simultaneously tried to change out of my school uniform and into my “play clothes”, I sprinted to the residential area to find my compadres. We were all single children. I think this created a sense of camaraderie among us.

By late evening, our parents would come streaming into the neighborhood, meaning, it was time to go home and do our homework. My parents picked me up and we went home. Evenings were spent doing homework, reading, or watching TV. My parents took turns to help me with my homework. They’d divided the curriculum subjects between themselves, following Adam Smith’s theory of division of labor. They’d also take turns to prepare dinner, following the rules of marriage. The parent not assigned homework duty that evening was responsible for rustling up dinner.

I’m a big girl now. I work at an advisory firm and rent an apartment, some thousand miles away from home. I wake myself in the mornings, eat my own cereal, and walk to the bus stop by myself. But every few weeks, I go back to that porch, and we bring out the cereal and talk about the month that has been.

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