I confessed to my best friend Diviya that I’m having this craving of wanting a child of my own. It catches me by surprise, I’ve always said I would rather be childless or adopt at some point when I’m more stable. Perhaps when I’ve found a partner.

“Get a dog,” she said, her eyes growing bigger with fear.

“Not the same,” I murmured.

 

I understand why she’s frightened about this thought lurking in the back of my head. She has been my anchor since I quit my corporate job to pursue my passion in arts. She knows it won’t be easy if I walked down this path.

A few days later, I’m in Diviya’s house and her 4-year-old nephew Jarvesh runs around announcing, “Aunty Ruby is here!”

I no longer have to bribe him with chocolates for hugs and kisses, he gives them voluntarily to me. Lately, whenever he takes a sweet for himself, he passes one to me first. Jarvesh’s grandmother is often surprised with the amount of affection he shows to me.

We play ball together, he shows me videos about trains on Youtube and other times we just hang around watching television—that’s been our routine.

I thought I would break it one day and attempt to read him a children’s book titled Just Enough by Allie Hill. I don’t know how much he understands the story, but I know he enjoys my attention.

A spread from the book

Just Enough is about Amelia’s journey with her magical blanket, sown by her grandmother. As I read the story to him, I reminisce about my own childhood and think of how my mother sang me lullabies when she tucked me in.

The illustrations seem dreamy, as Allie wonderfully ties together the varying parts of a child’s imagination. Jarvesh has no problem paying attention, he is constantly pointing his fingers out to flying elephants, monsters and silly faces in the book.

Another spread

This experience made me believe children’s storybooks are more than just “tales waiting to be told.” What Allie had done in this book is to open up a wonderful portal for us as adults to connect to little kids around us—because she touches the heart of both the children, the one listening and the one reading it out loud.

Stories are the best way to build relationships and we can also learn from kids, as they teach you to be present in the moment. But reading this story to Jarvesh also taught me another lesson I’ve taken years to digest.

I keep on wanting new connections in my life to make up for my lack of traditional family. Perhaps I’ll never have children to call my own, perhaps that’s the sacrifice I have to make to practice arts. But, spending time with Jarvesh reminds me that being aunty is just enough for now.

Front cover

Many other artists I know share my story, where they have completely cut ties with their families. But Allie’s book made me realize that I do have family, although it may be unconventional. They are made up of childhood friends, strangers I met on Facebook and people I meet in art events. These are people who understand my journey in finding my purpose and have been my back-bone these last few years.

Pursuing arts has allowed me to retain people that believe in me. As Allie writes in her book, “You’ll never have too little, there’ll always be just enough.”

 

Special thanks to Allie Hill for the images. 

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