Can we go to the beach?
‘Mumma, can we go to the beach today?’ Avni asked excitedly.
‘The beach?!?’ Mom gave her a puzzled look as she quickly tried to dress her daughter for school. ‘You want to go to the beach?’
‘Well, why not? I miss the beach. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I was hoping we could go today,’ Avni smiled a hopeful smile and fluttered her sparkling eyes.
‘How can you possibly go to the beach today?’ Mom replied as she tied Avni’s hair into a high ponytail. ‘The summer vacations are over. And you have school. Here, wear your hairband. And get your shoes on. I’ll quickly get your breakfast. We have to leave for school in the next fifteen minutes.’
Soon, Avni and her mother were driving through the maddening morning rush. Reaching school on time was a nerve-wracking challenge every single day. Avni was still hopeful about her whole idea of going to the beach. She glared out the window, looking at the other school-going children, the traffic, the cows, the dogs, and the tall buildings.
‘So, are we going to go today?’ Avni asked her mother before opening the door when the car stopped at the drop-off zone outside school.
‘Oh, Darling. The beach is so far away. We live in Gurgaon. There is no beach here. Now run along and have a good day at school,’ Mom replied. ‘And wait, give me a hug before you go.’
Avni’s head hung low. Feeling disheartened, she made her way to another day at school.
Mom let out a long sigh of relief. She then drove to work and started her routine, forgetting completely about the beach conversation they had had earlier that morning.
Later that afternoon, Avni and her mother reached home after a fun, eventful day at school. She had lots to say while they ate their lunch together. As in every other day, mother and daughter followed their routine. The next day was just another school day.
Toward the end of the evening, Avni played with her blocks and watched some television while her mother prepared dinner and the morning preparations for the next day.
After dinner, Mom quickly tidied up the kitchen and found Avni playing in her room.
‘Come on, Avni. The clock is ticking. We have to start the bedtime routine.’
Avni agreed and skipped to the bathroom to brush her teeth. She washed her hands, face, and feet.
‘Mumma, what day is it today?’ Avni asked as she stepped out of the bathroom.
‘It’s Wednesday.’ Mom replied and helped Avni slip into her pj’s.
‘And then comes Friday?’
‘Nooo,’ Mom said slowly. ‘Then comes Thursday and then Friday.’
‘Why are you asking about Friday?’ Mom asked. ‘Because the weekend is coming?’
‘Yes! And there’s no school. And maybe we can go to the beach,’ Avni replied.
‘Uff! The beach story again?!?’ Mom rolled her eyes. ‘How many times do I have to tell you? We are not going to the beach. You already went to the beach during your summer vacation. And now maybe we can go only next year. Okay? So, can you just please forget about the beach? You’ve been harping about it since morning.’
‘But… but Mumma…’ Avni whined.
‘Avni. Come on, dear. It’s almost bedtime. Do you want to read a bedtime story, or do you want to just go straight to bed? Let’s quickly read a short story, shall we?’
Avni agreed, slowly nodding her head. She scanned the bookshelf and picked out a book to read.
Soon, her mother had tucked Avni into bed. She read to her and then sang her favorite song, which she listened to every night before going to sleep. Her mother had tried her best to put her daughter to bed. But poor Avni just couldn’t sleep.
‘Close your eyes… why are you still awake?’ Mom asked impatiently.
‘I’m trying, Mumma…. I really am.’
Mom got off the bed and was about to leave the room when Avni called out for her.
‘Where are you going?’ Avni whined. ‘Come and sit with me.’
‘I’ll be back in a sec. I need to get myself some water. Till then, try to sleep.’
Mom returned in a jiffy and saw that her daughter was wide awake, sitting up in bed, grinning ear to ear.
‘Why on earth is she still awake? She worried to herself. ‘Why isn’t she tired yet? And how will she wake up for school tomorrow?’
‘Mumma,’ Avni chirped. ‘Let’s go to the beach.’
‘Oh, my God! Avni! This is crazy!’
‘Let’s go to the beach now!’ Avni continued.
‘But…’ Mom replied.
‘Mumma! Just listen to me. Please…. Just once!’
Her mother bit her tongue and finally decided to listen to what her daughter was trying to say.
‘Come and lie beside me in bed,’ Avni insisted.
Mom lay down next to her daughter and, sighing, cuddled up to her.
‘Now close your eyes, and I’ll see you there,’ Avni whispered.
Mom frowned and wondered what on earth was going on. She was still hoping that soon her daughter would just fall into a deep slumber.
‘Can you see it, Mumma?’
‘See whaaaat?’ Mom asked impatiently with her eyes closed.
‘Can you see the beach?’ Avni said excitedly with her eyes shut. ‘Look, Mumma. We’re at the beach.’
Mom opened one eye and saw the joy on Avni’s face. She had her eyebrows in the air and a huge smile plastered on her face. Avni looked so content as if she was standing on the shore, holding her mumma’s hand, with her feet sinking into the sand and the waves crashing against their ankles.
Mom closed her eyes and smiled to herself. She took a deep breath, letting this happy moment seep in. She held her daughter’s hand and said, ‘Look there, Avni. I can see crabs.’
‘Maybe I can build a sandcastle for the crabs?’
‘Maybe we can build one together,’ Mom replied.
‘And oh, oh, Mumma. Look at the sky. It’s changing color. The sun is going to set.’
‘You better take one last dip in the sea before it gets dark.’
‘Will you come with me?’ Avni asked.
‘Of course!’ Mom replied.
Both mother and daughter splashed in the sea, hand in hand, as the powerful waves swayed their bodies back and forth. They stood at the shore and watched the sunset.
It was not long before they both fell into a deep sleep.
The following early morning, Mom was helping her daughter get ready for school.
‘So, did you enjoy the beach?’ Mom asked.
‘Yes! Of course, I did, Mumma. I told you it would be so much fun.’
‘I’m so sorry, Avni, I didn’t listen to you earlier. I was so caught up with the routine that I just couldn’t figure out what you were really trying to say.’
‘That’s okay, Mumma. At least we were there together.’ Avni smiled a shy smile.
‘So, where do you want to go today?’ Mom giggled.
‘Well, the beach, of course!’