Twiddling Thumbs

She has a basket full of toys. Dolls. Lego blocks. Trinkets. Press-Me-I-Make-Noise stuff. Windup toys. Etc. Some of them are broken. Some of them have been used many times over. Some trampled and deformed permanently. Yet others, preferred. But all of them share the single basket.

Twiddling Thumbs

Like today, we often guide her to the basket to interest her to play. She takes to them for a brief while. Plays with a few. Tosses away a few. Largely leaves the majority alone. And then, perches at the vantage point of her most favourite toy.

I mean, she climbs onto my shoulder.

‘COMMM’ she says.

‘Come’. It means. It is said so very nicely.

Her ‘Come’ (pronounced as COMMM) roughly translates to “start walking”. “Crawling”. Whatever. It means, as they say in English movies, ‘MOVE’! It doesn’t matter what I am doing. Working on the laptop. Cleaning shoes. Reading a book. Having food.

If she says, ‘Come’, I bloody well drop everything else and move. I am only more than happy to do that. That however is beside the point.

Sometimes we step out for a walk & carry session. She looks into the sky and beckons the Sun, and the moon and waves at the stars. At other times we roll on the grass or she slides down with a zing or just about manages to balance on the swing.

When you drive around town or walk the Powai promenade, if at all you spot a bulging balding man, fill his cheeks with air or walk on all fours and carry a young cute toddler on his shoulders across the streets, stop and say hello. It could well be me.

At other times, when work saps my sinews silly or if it is an odd hour of the day, we stay home. Doing similarly exciting and exacting stuff! The unsaid expectation is for me to come up with games that will occupy an ever so energetic mind.

Her most favourite game however is devoid of any crazy showmanship. It has the following procedures.

  • Stick the left thumb up.
  • Take a pen and with four markings, make a face.
  • Do the same to the outstretched thumb of hers.
  • She looks at my thumb and calls her name out. I look at her thumb and call my name out. So in a quick jiffy, her thumb transforms to ‘Papa’ and my thumb morphs to ‘Baby’!

Twiddling Thumbs Daughter Dad

The thumbs dance. They kiss. They chase. They tumble. They hold each other well. That is the game. In-between insane cackles and hysterical laughter that you could only think laughing gas had the power to produce.

I call it Twiddle Thumbs.

Yes. That’s that. That is the game. I am astounded beyond belief at a new mind operates and is easily excited by such a simple thing. But that’s the way it is and it does rather well too.

The other day, we stay up late. Sitting and chatting. Me & the missus. The daughter is fast asleep. We look into the moon and the stars that she was beckoning some time back. It’s rare that we get to chat up at all these days.

“What do you think we will leave behind for her?” asks the missus. This is like a scud missile that came from nowhere.

The coffee that I am sipping sputters out of my lips as I laugh. ‘You mean, something like a legacy?’, I ask. I haven’t thought about it. I have been engrossed in the joy of the present, that the future seems beyond outer space. Perpetually arraigned to the wilderness that is beyond imagination, requiring a laborious labyrinth of years to get there.

The reality of the years just swishing by quickly often strike me hard. Not thinking about the future is my way of dealing with it.

There is a slight tension in the air. After the missus has popped the legacy question. I think humour will defuse it. ‘I have nothing to declare I say. Except my writing’. I say. Remembering the famous Oscar Wilde remark to a customs official: ‘There is nothing for me to declare except my genius’

The missus jumps on it. “Writing?” She asks. Muted in the intonation of that singe word questions is this: “You-write-a-clutch-of- incoherent-blogs-not-Nobel-Prize-winning-epistles”.

Silence moves from a punctuation mark to become the mainstay of the conversation. “I don’t know”. I say.

Frankly I don’t. I nurture no desires of chasing pots of gold, packets of money and the ominous luxuries that the world offers. My desire revolves around the daughter learning to choose well when the choices present themselves every moment in life. If that happens, I would be a happy man. But ‘legacy’ I would leave her with, I haven’t the faintest clue.

I sip the last remains of the filter coffee.

“I don’t know what I’ll leave behind for her”, I begin. “But I can tell you, if at all I get to old age I hope to clutch with dear life a ton of memories. Of spending time with her. Of being present. And of course playing Twiddle Thumbs endlessly”.

The missus laughs. She thinks it’s a good answer. I am all chuffed. It’s not often that my answers pass muster as ‘reasonable’ with her. But beyond that, the answer seems to have answered some other unasked questions in my own mind as well.

In sometime we hit bed.

I realise that today, me and the daughter have played Twiddle Thumbs for an incredibly long period of time. And she sleeps like a log. I watch her sleep. It is then that the missus spots it: She is holding her playing thumb with her other palm. Almost as if caressing a baby.

The eyes that I drew on her thumb stick out and stare at me. And from the safety of her palm, those eyes seem to implore me to leave behind nothing but a bounty of memories.

My thumb twitches. I am barely conscious as my thumb kisses her thumb.

There is peace in the world.

Kavi dabbles in writing, reading, traveling, photography, long distance running amongst other things. He and Shanti have their hands full with their adorable toddler, Kayal. In-between all of this, he gives an arm, leg and everything else to earn a living. Usually accomplished by punching keys, attending meetings and trying to sound profound. He blogs at & tweets @kavismusings. Just in case you are intrigued enough to know more about him please head to

  • Beautiful… I think I should just start typing one word for your posts

    ” Beautiful” 🙂

    • 🙂 Thank you! Thank you!

  • Love your posts… they are so beautifully written …

    • Thank you Falak. I am so glad you like them! 🙂

  • Gauri


    I think your daughter is a really lucky girl!

    • I am not sure if she is a lucky girl or I am a lucky chap! Perhaps I would only pray for both being true! 🙂

      Your comment suddenly seemed to make whatever measly ‘effort’ involved seem effortless. thank you so much. Love the comment and treasure the association.

  • SPELL BOUND ……. but still breaking the spell …..if i can say something confidently ………..These posts are a treasure you can bequeath and your daughter will cherish. So write more and store them in a safe place.

    BTW….on alighter vein…not just at powai promenade…….any balding bulging man with a cute toddler anywhere, will instantly remind me of this post and you, Kavi:) Wishing you more such moments.

    • Thank you so much Asha! I cant quite describe how much the comment moved me. I hope these will indeed be the treasure. The missus just wishes that we also have something more to show her! 🙂

      And more power to all balding bulging men with toddlers! 🙂

  • Wonderfully written! You will leave behind for her reasons to love, laugh and live. That is all they need. Anything else is a bonus.

    • Thank you Vinitha. Completely agree. Everything else is a bonus. I see it that way. I told this to someone and he said ‘you are like this only’ !

      🙂 Well, I couldnt agree more with him !

  • She sleeps deep
    amidst a lullaby
    sung by the
    moon and the stars
    streaming live
    through the window,
    empowering herself
    with plans
    for the Man on the Thumb.

    All his early morning
    solitary runs,
    without her
    perched on his shoulder,
    she has heard
    about this
    from the sun
    whispering from
    amidst the shady trees
    and the swings.

    So many fingers, and so many ways to play.

    Thumbs up
    for the Big man on the Small thumb;

    A few more years,
    and the index finger
    will start pointing
    at Crosswords
    or Theobroma
    on their fun walks
    or even join up with the thumb
    as he and the missus
    the Steps and the Mudras
    keeping time
    with the music.

    Maybe even
    look on in amazement
    as she writes
    one masterpiece
    after another,
    something she picked up
    from the Man on the Thumb….

    She’s noticed the ring
    on his ring finger,
    and he will be startled
    when he sees
    into the future,
    the stars in her own eyes…

    The little finger
    remains the most powerful
    as it wraps him
    completely around itself,
    just for fun,
    out of habit,
    and sometimes
    just to make the Man on her Thumb,

    Whoever said
    that the future lies in the palm
    has clearly never heard
    the Man on the Thumb.

    She sleeps on
    deep in her dreams,
    clutching all her fingers together…

    • Thank you Suranga.

      “The little finger
      remains the most powerful
      as it wraps him
      completely around itself,”

      I cant agree with you more! And so cant the missus. Well well well!

      This is just splendid! 🙂

  • Mercy Livi

    Awww …. What to comment ! I am totally in love with this !

    What a blessing ! Baby feel asleep … Filter coffee in hand … discussing with missus on legacy … nothing can get better than this !

    Ever daughter never expect a Nobel Prize awarded literature from a dad ! A simple but spoken words of love for her to cherish in her entire life ! Which you have already done and much more to come too !

    • ‘baby asleep – coffee in hand’ moments are rare! Three quarters of the time, I am tired. And the other quarter, the missus is. So, it is a rare intersection!

      Love the comment and all the endorsements on twitter too. It simply makes it all worthwhile.

      I hope I just end up being a good dad! 🙂

  • You have a way with words … its almost poetic .. brilliant … !!

    • Thank you Divya! Thank you. Now, I have to live upto this! 🙂

  • Roshni

    Another exquisite post, Kavi! Your legacy is definitely all these wonderful posts that she will read with tears in her eyes some day!

    • Thank you Roshni! I hope life will be kind to her and all the kids of her age. I hope there is more love and peace in the world! I really do.

      Thank you for the wonderful comments and the connection!

  • Amrita Thavrani

    I have inherited few such legacies from my father. Trust me, that equipped me to aspire for anything else I wish for. These legacies are the wings, to fly on the space of peace and happiness. I too wish to create and pass on some of these to my daughter, only then I will feel somewhat successful being a mother.