When a viral infection takes a pick on my home, it feels like dark clouds hijacking the pleasant blue skies in Harry Potter when Voldemort makes his ghastly appearance. Those dreaded mornings have the exact same warning signs – the days that need to be mentioned.

To cut it short, my 7-year-old wakes up all groggy with a blocked nose that whistles louder than Prestige pressure cooker. Her eyes are the colour of ripe red plums and her vocal chords crave for tuning. My first thought, “poor baby will miss school”.

My next thought, “Which means I need youth to be injected into my 386-motherboard from yester years to dish out appealing food every couple of hours and hoard stocks of I-Need-Patience Inc with immediate effect”. Clearly, I am depressed. A trip to the doctor and first dose of medicine later, I dig myself into cooking videos of ‘Bhindi Masala Restaurant Style’ while my little patient is growing impatient with no sibling to annoy.

She settles in her play den with dozens of colours and paper. I must confess my family is the real reason why Singapore is big on planting trees. Her scribbles in the name of art could cost us our planet some day.

She is bored in exactly 20 minutes, begging me to play, leaving me flushed with a room looking like the aftermath of a tsunami. A game of hide-n-seek later I see the effect of medicines wearing off. Time to offer a high carb snack and fry Bhindi.

As I usher masalas into the wok and the gravy sizzles, my little monkey who has been trailing around is fascinated by colorful food. Given her ‘Fussy-Over-Food’ history, her slightest interest in colours other than crayons awakens the Paediatric-Nutrition salesman within me. I hardsell the concept of colorful being healthy. And before I can rope her in for a 1-week free trial for Mega Christmas Sale of Okra-Spiceza, there she goes, ”Colourful is healthy? M&Ms are the healthiest then!”

I share the same sentiments as Indian Skipper Kohli upon dismissal in less than 5 minutes in the World Cup semis earlier this year. I so wanna okra-cize M&Ms.

By the time my 11-year-old arrives, a fight erupts over non-compliance of sketchpen arrangement policy and Bhindi is gobbled up with a 5-star rating, I want to run for my life. I haven’t had a minute of peace or quiet since 5.30am.

Leaving the sink to its fate and kids to wage the next war, I frantically dive for my phone and call my saviour – Mummy! Needless to mention, my time on phone is directly proportional to the I-miss-you-mom syndrome hitting the girls almost immediately. Until a few months back, my phone-time meant the best time to seek permissions. Digging their bony fingers into my flesh incessantly and demanding chocolates, ice cream and screen time became a ritual.

So I began ending calls to deny any leeway. But haven’t we heard, necessity is the Mother of inventions? And so, the 7-year-old began designing forms. Yes, paper forms with a question and MCQ-style answers followed by name, signature and date. Now each time I rant, a form automatically lands on my palms. My mind needs thrice the horsepower to comprehend how to respond. My ears are buzzing with soul satiating but painstakingly futile gossip that my hardwired womania brain cannot hang up on. Add to it a piece of paper I need to read, sign and hand back only to figure out I have been fooled.

Coming back to the viral infection, I begin my monologue with Mom who chooses to leave her phone on speaker for 30 minutes while dealing with her house help, while I feel assured I have a shoulder to cry on. That’s when I receive an invite that reads,

“Dear Mumma,

There is a games session happening at 7.30pm. It is going to be fun. I insist you come with Baba. You can bring one guest. Please find three tickets with this letter”.

It is the most endearing invitation I have ever received. We enjoy games and I return to work. But in the rut of dinner preps and lecturing the 11-year-old over homework, I forget about the sneezing smirk when my hand freezes at the touch of another paper!

Another invitation – this time to buy Oo La La cards, her latest business venture. 10 attractive cards designed for different occasions spread in a room labelled, “Miss Aadya’s Office”. Reminds me of Archies, a favourite brand during my youth. I swell with pride and smile at what she has achieved in a day’s work. I quickly pick pne and pay her two dollars. Her smile tells me she is already feeling better. Viral infections are not bad after all.

P.S. A clean house, healthy kids and me-time form my dominating my thoughts on most days. But there is a silver lining to every cloud. After all, would Harry be the hero if there was no Voldemort? Viral attacks leave kids stronger. What’s more, a free hand on art and craft can shine one’s entrepreneurial streak. I will shamelessly blame it on my genes. Oo la la!