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Cycle Gap


A story I wrote on writing while parenting was featured on the podcast @Read650.


You can hear my story and others right here 👇🏽


You can read the story below 👇🏽




In the teeming seaside city of Chennai in the South of India, where I am from, we have a turn of phrase - 'cycle gap'.


It is not a translation from Tamil, the regional language, one of the oldest in the world. It is not English, although it may seem apparently so. Its etymology lies in that sweet spot between the two, the true language of the Dravidian masses, the hybrid Tanglish.


Cycle gap -


Literally speaking, it's a gap just enough for a bicycle to squeeze through in heavy traffic, usually between a towering truck and an overcrowded bus.


Figuratively speaking, it's the slim window of opportunity that the quick and the brave seize and manifest into a grander destiny.


Born on the congested streets of my hometown, wielded in a broad range of arenas from police stations to parliament, auto stands to airports, classrooms to boardrooms, and executed with equal parts flustered vexation and grudging respect, the phrase is a poem in its own right.

Any notion of me being a writer was born in cycle gaps.

A single word scribbled on toilet paper during a diaper change.

A barely coherent sentence typed one-handed on my phone while nursing my daughter.

A stream of consciousness feverishly recorded on voice memos. 

It didn't matter how much or how well I wrote, it mattered that I did.


As I stumbled along in the dark tunnel of early motherhood, cycle gaps were my shafts of light. 
As I struggled to find my identity as a mother, cycle gaps helped me discover myself as a writer.

As 'moming' morphed into several full-time jobs, cycle gaps allowed me to have a side hustle.

Now, there are many things you can do with your cycle gaps -

You can take a break from Bubble Guppies and watch Bridgerton.

You can take a well-deserved power nap.

You can take a much-needed shower.


Bridgerton - check

Power naps - check

Showers - I opted for discretionary dabs of Arm & Hammer fresh meadow scent so that I. Could. Write.

Writing helped me process the panic that comes with parenting.

Writing helped me weed through the what-ifs.

Writing helped me face my fears and fail forward.

There was a period of time after my daughter outgrew the baby swing when she would only sleep in my arms. I would hold her and bounce her and sing to her but the more I watched the clock the longer it took her to fall asleep.

So I stopped watching the clock. I made peace with the process. I sat with her and learned to appreciate the weight of her warm body in my arms.
It anchored me. It stilled my mind. It allowed my thoughts to meander, flit unfettered, make connections that are impossible during the whirlwind of wakefulness. I wrote and rewrote epics in my head. I didn't retain more than a word, a fragment, an image.

But these words, fragments, images - they were my passwords to a portal.

As my children slip into their dream world, I step through this portal into the imaginary world I've been slowly and painstakingly building, word by word. This is my playground and I play with abandon the way my children have taught me all day long.


I change, rearrange and discard with audacity.

I rebuild, strengthen, and shape with specificity.

I paint, polish, and embellish with whimsy.


I am the Goddess of my own imagination and so with hubris, I create. 99% of the time I am a person without control over anything. During that precious 1%, in that cycle gap, I seize control. I manifest.

In between potty training and playdates, I weave together words.

In between laundry and dishes, I pull together a plot.

In between my baby's first step and her first word, I birth my first book.

In the cycle gaps of being a parent, I become a writer.