As a child I resented being woken up at dawn by my mother, stuffed into a school uniform, while still half-awake and pushed into a school bus full of kids as disoriented as myself.
“Carpe Diem!” she’d say, every time I complained; but the words were lost on a 7-year-old who could barely hang on to her lunch box, a far cry from seizing the day.
By third standard, I suspected that mum actually went back to sleep after she packed me off to school. Why did the adults get to sleep, while we kids had to master the art of dozing with our eyes open, standing in line for the morning assembly? From then on, I made sure to stare accusingly at my mother as she waved goodbye to me every morning.
However, as an adult, I am grateful for this habit. A 6am start through my childhood and adolescence has turned me into one of those irritating people that wakes up before her alarm goes off, makes tea for everyone at home and say things like “Done and done hai ji” declaratively to simple requests like “It’s 6 in the morning dude, keep it down.”
I imagine I am an outcast in this aspect, of a generation that has made it fashionable to hate mornings. The most coherent sentence I’ve heard from any self-proclaimed night owl between 4 and 7 in the morning is “I’m going to bed yaar.” It appeals to our rebellious side I think. ‘The sun can do whatever it wants but I will wake up whenever I want to.’ It’s like showing the middle finger to time itself.
Mornings make me positively giddy. If you’re a fitness enthusiast, just like I wish I was, early mornings are the perfect time to venture into the streets without melting into a sick, sticky ice cream version of yourself. The empty streets, sleeping dogs and still lit street lights nod knowingly at you as you jog by, like you are sharing something personal with them, something that they will not share with the bustling crowds that will inundate them in the next few hours.
To me, the biggest draw of being a morning person is the massive superiority complex I feel when my room-mate stumbles out of bed looking for her tooth brush at lunch time. She does her breathing exercises (which include muttering expletives under her breath for the workload she has that day) while I sit smugly at my desk with 60% of my day’s work done and still enough enthusiasm for the remaining 40%.
If you’re going to wake up for work then you’re going to associate waking up with this dreaded thing called “work”. But when you wake up earlier than work demands, then you wake up for you. “Work” becomes just another thing you have to achieve in the course of a day that you know will give you time for other things. I love my job and I love my sleep both far too much to make one the cause for hatred of the other.
Today, as I watch the droopy-eyed kids in my building dozing against their mother’s chest while going down the elevator for the school bus, I realise that my mother had always been awake for hours before I woke up and hours after I slept. The betrayal that my six-year-old heart felt has since turned into a deep desire to do exactly as my mother said — carpe the hell out of every diem.
Aditi Mittal is a stand-up comedian, a sit-down philosopher and a lie-down snorer. She is also teacher, writer, actress and a good friend and available for children’s parties.