Monday, April 19, 2010


When I was born, my mother was diagnosed with jaundice and was not able to breast feed me. As a result I was brought up on canned milk powder, she tells me I would shake the glass bottle to see if it was full, if it made sound I would just throw it out and it would shatter into pieces. After observing my liking for a perpetually full bottle, parents got a steel bottle that was retrieved and filled up again. The bottle was still lurking in some corner of parents' home. I love powdered milk even now, a taste that developed as a new born. My grandmother used to give me cooked vegetable dish of brinjal and I hated it, but one day she made look like a lolly pop and I fell in love with eggplant! Parents were in Baroda and there was a join family of businessmen next to us. My mother tells me that they did not have a child in their home so I was practically brought up by the women in that household. In small cities, these bonds are deeper, mother says if deep into night I would cry, the neighbors would come knocking and take me away to quieten me and try their home remedies. There was a women who was employed to massage me and considerable part of my father's salary went to this woman along with the bus fare. My mother remembers that she would bath me with scalding water after massaging me with oil and if mother complained of my wailing and temperature of water , the women would threaten to quit.

Memory is such a magical thing, I still remember so vividly, sun streaming and making patterns of window bars on the floor and my mother talking to her friend standing on the doorstep. Her cotton saree well-worn and soft, I sneak into the bathroom and fill a huge jug with water. I was kept away from a drum that housed a bee hive and it attracted me like a magnet. As mother was busy, in my two-year-old wisdom, I seized the opportunity and poured the water on the hive. Soon the bees were stinging my cheeks and the mother and her friend sprung into action taking me inside and plucking out the stings. How clear are those stings in my memory!

My parents were fond of movies and first day first show was a norm. They would stick a fanta straw into my mouth and as long as the clod drink lasted, I would leave them in peace. They thought I didn't register a thing but I still remember the love making scenes in that adult flick, blue lagoon. The scene when the teenagers stranded in this Iceland try and deliver their first baby, I remember that too, though I never saw that movie again.

So many things one remembers, mind is such a wonderful sensitive part of us. The first formal school, Convent of Jesus and Mary, the stone building and stern spinsters who taught us. The day I was called into the office with the teacher complaining that I was not able to pay attention in class, I still sense the fear and humiliation. It turned out that I was underage and as I was able to answer most questions they had given me admission in first grade without considering my age.
Home was a vast house with land stretching in every direction. There were snakes in the stacked tiles that made the boundary of our lawn. There was a swamp at some distance and white storks moved in slow motion looking for fish in the muddy water. Massive trees with sweet seeds that danced to the ground lined the roads and a few days back I identified the tree near Qutab Minar and told Jayani, my daughter about these seeds. The taste transported me to those warm days when a girl friend and I would look for broken glass bangles to make a bangle box. We would peek into houses through windows and giggle. One day she was telling me how we can make the flesh near knee look like genitals, when my mother overheard us and I was pulled into the hose and told not to speak to her again. I still remember her name, Jyotsna, funny how things we are forbidden become etched forever eh!


Gentle ripples of thought
Green peaceful words cascade
Blue kisses of memory
Fleeting embrace of time
Dusk and dawn entwined tenderly
Flowing into wilderness like a dream
Foot prints on a rainy day
Moments that became today...

1 comment:

  1. So true indeed, that is it what we are taunted about and forbidden from that makes the longest and most pronounced impact on our life. Strange irony that if gentleness were used in most correction, the desired result would be achieved, freedom would be preserved, and no harm would be done in the process. But we humans must complicate things, musn't we?