I know. I know. I’ve lived in India long enough to know that this is just something you DO NOT DO. You do not brag about your children. That is inviting the Evil Eye. That is saying: “Look at me! See how happy I am! Come and knock me down! I’m just asking for it!”
But I can’t help it.
Today is Cathleen’s birthday and she is in CHICAGO. It is 45 degrees below ZERO. It is snowing in the windy city and she is there all alone on her birthday and I am sitting here in Dehradun (it’s pretty cold here too, but I can’t get anyone to sympathize) and thinking about how lucky we are.
Beautiful, just for starters.
She makes you smile just to look at her.
She makes you wish you were young again – to be like her or to be in love with her.
She makes you wonder what she knows that you don’t.
What she knows!
OK. Not just a pretty face.
This little girl knows LANGUAGES. She knows Ancient Greek and Ancient Hebrew. She knows Akkadian, Uggaritic, Aramaic.
Not to mention Hindi (topped the state in her Class 12 Boards!), Sanskrit and English.
So yes. Pretty amazing.
Fulbright Scholar. Masters from Yale. PhD student at the University of Chicago.
But somehow, for me, it’s not that all that which amazes. For me, it comes down to the people she loves. It comes down to her brother:
and her sister:
and how she has moved through the world with that love intact no matter how far she travels, no matter how much has transpired. It comes down to the care she put in to everything she does. It comes down to the details, the handwriting, the recipes, the perfect cups of tea. It comes down to the gift wrapping, the letters, the music, the sly little witticisms. Jane Austen. Harry Potter. Downtown Abbey. Braithwaite.
Cathleen has just turned 27. My gift to her is to recognise her gift to us. My gift to her is to say out loud what a wonder she is, what joy she brings to the world, what delight, what gratitude.
Her father and I cannot believe our luck.
We know it was just luck. sheer chance. Nothing we did. Nothing we deserved. We KNOW that. We aren’t tempting fate. We really aren’t.
But: Happy Birthday, Darling. Happy Birthday, Cathleen.