“She’ll be asleep in just a minute,” he tells me. Her eyes are still open, but her blinks have slowed. Her left hand’s still moving, and even though my right no longer contains any rice puffs, she reaches for it.
He rocks her in his lap as she hums adamantly in a rhythm that can only mean, “I want to stay awake!” He remains patient; his motion is steady, and her resolve weakens. She’s still moving her hand, but he draws it inward and holds it in place. A minute has passed. Her eyes have closed. My mother turns out the light. Where certified experts on children had given up not ten minutes earlier, my father has succeeded.
It’s been a day in which that unique mix of English, Tamil, Yiddish, Sign, and sarcasm used by our clan has been interspersed with a different sign and tone for the Bee. Now that she’s fast asleep, we revert to the former.
“K’s going to tell us a story,” my father says.
“Latka!” responds my sister, and that single word conjures up so many memories and reactions that within seconds of its mention, laughter fills the room.
Dad is now defensive. Through the laughter, Mom smiles wryly as she says, “Sing ‘Didi Tera…’ in both the male and female voice.” The laughter gets louder. Dad’s now insisting that my sister perform “Latka!” for the group, and my brother-in-law is curious. My sister refuses and diverts our attention with Youtube videos.
We eventually watch Nick Pitera sing “A Whole New World” amid several mentions that this could have been my alternate career path. Some mild chuckles follow, but people are starting to look tired.
The Bee stirs briefly, but my father has everything under control. Her eyes stay closed. My story must wait until tomorrow. It’s time to sleep.