6 rods of A. 4 of B. 4 of C. 2 of D.

A goes with D. B in the middle.

The instructions in Chinese have long been lost, the drawings with which we struggled the first time we tried to assemble it are now printed in our minds.

The jungle zoo canopy has already gotten torn from the window edges, taped up, torn again from another angle, taped up again. It’s the only step, draping the canopy over the skeleton that the kids yet can’t do on their own.

We’ll call you for tea once the dolls have woken up. 

After all the arrangements inside the house inside the house are complete, after all the dolls and their cups and dishes and dining tables and beds and their pet dogs and their pet snowman are in place, they call us. We know what to expect yet we have to pretend to act surprised everytime.

The tiny tent house that barely manages to squeeze in all four of us in a circle knee touching to knee, or one kid in one lap. Add all the dolls and the castles and the furniture, and there’s barely any room left to stretch out my legs when they eventually get cramped.

But it isn’t crowded. It’s cosy.

The elder one knows how to add structure and manage space. The younger one knows how to make any place cosy and warm. The two aims are often at odds with each other, and require much yelling and shouting and sometimes sobbing before peace is negotiated, with or without our interference or knowledge.

The Japanese have an elaborate tea ceremony called the Chado, or The Way of Tea, a simple ceremony in which the art of making and serving tea is elevated to an experience. The key to the whole ceremony is slow deliberate actions, your self utterly immersed in it. There’s a specific corner of the kitchen or the house devoted just for consuming tea, a place unsullied by ordinariness and monotony of domestic life. My kids have never heard of it, yet their deliberate serving of imaginary tea in their tiny plastic cups is eerily similar in action and immersion and intent. Since the cup is so small, you have to pretend to drink very very slowly, or rather drink very very slowly, all the semblance of pretence having been dropped outside along with our slippers.

The uber-cool Danish word Hygge (pronounced Hoo-gah), a feeling of comfort and luxuriating in ordinary life, for which they say the word cosy is a pale shadow, might as well have been devised for this family of four squeezed in uncomfortably in this house while the rest of the 2500 sq feet lie vacant and often boring, full of stresses and little grudges and to-do-lists. It is in here that once every few sundays, I learn to love her body again, the same way she learns to love my face again – in here that we finally look at each other with knowing glances and little winks and giggles that would be totally out of place in a somber Japanese tea ceremony, and defy the notion of hygge comfort – the discomfort itself adding a layer of happiness, which is tough to explain but not tough to understand.

But we build our own labels. We are all the same, having the same experiences, yet – you could never know what i feel in that tent house.

It’s just mine.