In the ideal world there are no 2 a.m. dinners.
In the ideal world you eat three meals a day which magically appear at the table, before you set off to your awesome six-figure paying job. Of course, life being what it is, you probably had to cook them yourself, but by now you’re an expert at this game and can dish out a biriyani or a fish moilee at the drop of a hat.
In the ideal world you fall in love at 21, get married by 27, have your first kid before 30. You probably own a car and your in-laws think you are the epitome of perfection.
Back in the real world, your bed still looks like it was hit by a tornado. Food is coffee and a sandwich and uppittu at the office canteen. But you have people who love you, and some days you do manage to get most of the things on your checklist done. And even if you fall asleep on the couch and wake up at midnight craving hot food, you can roll up your sleeves and make yourself a mean dinner.
And some days you get to do work that you feel proud of, or to make someone happy through a simple word or action, and it seems like all this is temporary: one day, all the loose ends will tie up to form a gorgeous ball of sunshine.
Meanwhile, the mother of two whose settledness you envy stays up till 2 until everybody sleeps, to savour the only moment of solitude she can get in a long day.
She hears in the morning azaan the same calming voice you do – memories of a simpler time.