That’s me as I look now at one year and nine months. People say I’m cute and I tend to believe them . I’ll try and not let my endearing ways go to my head. It’s difficult when I have my dear and near ones doting over me. But I just don’t want to have it any other way.
A quick update on how much I have grown since I last spoke to you all. I’m learning to speak, I have stopped eating mashed food and have regular stuff which I’m now able to chew . I love fried fish and chicken and cheese and as of now, not one of the teeth I have, is a sweet one. I’m picking up words in three languages, Malayalam which is supposed to be my mother-tongue , English and Hindi as well because the grown-ups around me speak in all three of them.
I have caught on to all the nursery rhymes I’ve been hearing and can sing along in my own style. I don’t get all the words right but am generally in synchronicity with the tune and rhythm. I can recognise shapes and match colours although I would still not be able to tell you which is which. I’m not too much of a toy addict but I love all the story books Ummamma has bought for me. We read together a lot and I can answer quite correctly when she asks me questions in between to check whether I’m following the tale.I want to do things on my own and am learning quite a lot in the process.
My toilet training is continuing. A few days ago, I literally got shit-scared. I was walking about in my shorts without my diapers and suddenly the pressure built up in my bowels. Even as I started walking towards Ummamma declaring my intent , saying “poopoo” as loudly as I could, a big one slid down catching me unawares and giving me a fright. But I’m slowly learning to give advance notice.
I’ve just returned from a ten day trip to Delhi and I absolutely must share evertyhing with you all. There was so much packed in, that only putting it down in some semblance of order and chronology will give some respite to the sensory bombardment going on in my little brain. Must confess…I just loved it
For starters..this was my first flight and guess what ? This was my Ummamma’s maiden flight as well !!!
I loved strolling around inside the airport and the take-off and watching the huge wisps of cottony clouds as we flew above them; loved the twinkling lights of Delhi as we started landing and the stillness of speed gradually getting tangible with the beginning of movement on the long stretches of the roads seen windingly between buildings looking like stacked-up matchboxes. Ummamma feels though that barring the the thrill of a first experience, I would definitley enjoy a train journey much more as there was so much to see of people and places. All in good time, I tell her.
We stayed at Madhumamma’s place. They go a long way back together. Ummamma told me that she knew Madhumamma from the time she used to visit her best friend at her home, while in the 2nd or 3rd standard. Madhumamma was a tiny-tot then and was staying in the same building in the lower portion of the house and she would follow them around with her beaming smile, which remains her signature even now. I love her lots . She had come and stayed with us in Banglaore in June with Naani Ma and Bina Aunty and her niece Tavisha and we gelled well even then. The comfort level between us is amazing. She really is a sweetheart . I call her Madhumamma most of the time , but sometimes I just like to address her as simply Madhu and she swears that no boyfriend of hers has uttered her name with the same endearing inflection.
The day after we landed we went out for lunch. Boy!!! Was it hot out there!!!Got back and ventured out again only after sundown.Kajal Aunty, Ummamma’s friend had met us for lunch and she accompanied us back and while I had my siesta, they sat talking reminiscing about old days. I came to know that not long after Ummamma took up her job in Delhi, she had taken my Mamma along with her to her office on one of the mornings when they had the rehearsals for the Republic day parade and that she was then only as small as I am now. Imagine that !!!!
Dilli Haat was a nice place to visit in the evening . It’s a place where all the artisans come and set up their shops and sell their stuff directly. Very colourful it all was and Mamma went strolling around on her own and picking up stuff, while Ummamma, Madhumamma and I waited for Vijaya Aunty and Vidhya Aunty to join us. I just had a cursory glance and didn’t have lingering eyes for the most of the other stuff there , but a balloonwala continued to hold my attention till the grown-ups eventually finished all their gup-shup and decided to call it a day. Then they let me choose one. They kept commenting on my choice of a heart-shaped red balloon. Believe me..it was the colour and not the emotional sissiness that helped me decide.
The next day all of us went to Noida to see a film along with the teachers of the school they are all a part of. Pretty cool it was..the huge big , bright hall suddenly becoming dark and the screen coming all alive with all kinds of colours and movement and sounds. Of course after the novelty wore off, I preferred to go up and down the aisle and sit down mid-way, humming all the nursery rhymes I knew. I could see Ummamma keep a watchful eye on me even in the darkness . I didn’t want to give her too much trouble , the poor dear and at the end of it they were all quite impressed by my sober and almost grown-up co-operation.Well! What can I say? Some days are like that.
Ummamma marched off to meet her friends and collegues in her old work-place the following day, while Mamma and I went off in another direction to be with her childhood friend and schoolmate Suparna Aunty. Ooh! Her little baby was so cute and Ninnu Didi , her elder one was a sweet darling too. After she got back from school she spent all her time playing with me,till it was time for us to get back. Supu Aunty gave me a lot of lovely books. By the way, I can actually say all those names out loud and quite clearly at that. I picked up a lot of new words these days too and I even surprise myself when I realise that I can actually seggregate the English, Hindi and Malayalam words. What do you know of how much we have to learn to handle and assimilate so early in our lives!!!!!
And then there was this visit to the school in the running of which Madhumamma, Ummamma and her other friends are involved. I can only say that I was kind of overwhelmed. Any which way I turned there were kids around and after a while I think I tired myself out a little trying to focus on each group, one after another.
It helped a little that I got to see my bhaiyyas who had come to stay with us for a few days in Bangalore.. I recognised all of them and I was particularly glad to see Sunil Bhaiyya who I prefer to address as Shubham Bhaiyya, by the way.
Some names get stuck in my brain and I can only assosciate certain people with the names that have sat lightly on my tongue. There is this boy of my age whomis my next door neighbour. His name is Faizi , bur for some reason when I had tried uttereing it in the beginning it would come out as Jabal and that’s what I continue to call him . And this other friend of mine, Sareena is Tabathatha for me. If I remember correctly, Ummamma had at some point of time introduced her to me as Sareenathatha (in Ummamma’s native place, muslims refer to their older sisters as “Ithatha”). So that’s how this particular nomenclature must have got wired in my head.Anyways, I don’t think they mind.
We packed in a trip to a place called Mukteshwar as well. As far as I was concerned it could’ve been Timbuktoo or Jumrathalaiyya. What pepped me up was the fact that I had three doting women accompanying me. And don’t let it be said that I am a cranky little brat. It took us around eight hours to get there by road and I not only was well behaved , but kept them entertained as well with my rendering of Old Macdonald had a farm all through the way. I did a lot of improvisation as well which added to their amusement. So in my version Old Macdonald had a Mamma and an Ummamma and other animals making all kinds of queer sounds.
We stopped by for a while near a huge lake called the Bhimtaal. I could see many boats around , but they were in a hurry and didn’t let me have thew pleasure of a ride in one of them. Saw plenty of very tall trees. Heard the driver uncle say they were green and silver oaks and deodars and pines.I liked the look of them.
The cottage we checked into , which was arranged for by an acquaintance of Madhumamma , was really snug and nice and had a little balcony immediately overlooking a small garden with lovely blooms and with a view of the mountains in the distance. It was really nice being fed there ,sitting on a chair with the warm sunlight streaming in.
Pity we could just spend only one whole day there, having reached there in the evening of the previous day and setting off again back to Delhi the next morning. Now this is not a habit I should be emulating for my respectful old Gran, but I saw her pinch some plants from the garden there. Old habits die hard , she said winking at me. Oh well! But I did learn to recognise the contours of mountains and my Pappa was quite impressed when I pointed to a biggish hillock while returning from the airport and called it a mountain.
The day after we returned from Mukteshwar, Madhumamma drove us to Gurgaon to spend wthe day with Naanima(her mother) and Bina Aunty (her sister) and Tavishadidi(her niece). Naani ma had prepared a delicious lunch of rice, raajma and bhujia with paneer (cottage cheese) and capsicum and raita.
And my day was completed when a whole family of monkeys dropped by , jumping on to the balcony from the neem tree outside. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.
On the way back we stopped to pay our respects to Ustad Sabri Khan , the renowned Sarangi Maestro, whom Madhumamma holds in high esteem. He was not keeping well and was looking frail and vulnerable and had the oxygen tubes helping him to breathe easier. One of his students sang for us and another young boy accompanied him on the tabla. He had just started learning a few months ago. I loved the rhythm his and created and I tried to follow suit tapping on my thighs . I must be very fortunate because Ustadji placed his hand on my hand and gave me his blessings, saying that I would become an artist.
I made friends with a lot of grown-ups who were Ummamma’s friends and who had known my Mamma from the time she was a little child and the next evening all of us went for a programme at India Habitat Centre,in which Venkitesh Uncle’s daughter Kunju didi , was performing along with many other senior artistes.
Ummamma had decided that she would take me out of the auditorium if I got restless. It was an elite crowd and they all sat very daintily and “prohparly” on their chairs waiting for the programme to begin. I just couldn’t help myself and I began singing Old Macdonald, softly at first , but when it reached the second “EIEIO” , my voice had attained quite a crescendo . I guess they had all tried to ignore it at first, but now almost every head turned in my direction and Ummamma grabbed me up in her arms and walked out as nonchalantly as she could. As for me, I couldn’t have wished for a more packed audience for my first public performance.
We sat for a while on the grass outside and walked around the little pond full of lotuses, breathing in the rather intense fragrance of the Alistonia blooms and then Ummamma decide to have a peek at the photographs of one of the famous dancers , exhibited in the hall across. I spotted one where the background was all dark and there was this figure in red, highlighted in the centre. Before I could even ponder over it I had bleated out “Spiderman!!!”. I think Ummamma thanked her stars that there was no one close by to have overheard it. Grr!!! No point in explaining the myriad ways in which we form assosciations of colours and sounds and forms in our cerebral centres at my age.
Now that I am back , I can spend time again with my friends here and I’m enjoying that as well . And I will also get to wear all the new clothes Ummamma picked up from Sarojini Nagar. She just isn’t satisfied with the clothes she buys from the shops here. Way overpriced , she says . She won’t really admit it , but I think she misses Delhi from time to time.Mamma must have known that too :-)