Previous- Shaping up my Mind- I
Mom had felt uncomfortable staying at the 3rd floor. It hurt her. She felt unfit even after 5 years of her cesarean operation. We had shifted to a 1st floor in the next building. It was later diagnosed that her stitches had begun to open up..!!
There were set rules at my home. Everyone dined together- of course without any communication. We watched the 9pm prime time tele- serials. When Uncle watched sports; dad would not come out of his room. Mom and I shared the master bedroom, dad another room and uncle yet another. That house was much bigger than my current accommodation. Sundays meant shopping from Shahadara Mandi. Back then 100 bucks were enough for elaborate veggie and fruits shopping for a week and for a family of 4. We have always eaten well- I mean large portions of veggies- no matter what. Sundays were mutton days. AAArrrgh.. I hated non- vegetarian food. But I had no choice- because of my weak eyesight and health; I was dumped with all the leather and flesh. I conveniently spat that out since I found them chewy and un- gulpable. I greedily ate the boiled potatoes dipped in the curry. Fish- again curry. Oh, and I loved eggs. I still do. Even now; both of my fridge’s shelves are sit with 15 each 🙂
The only thing that mattered to dad was my grades in the school. I was pretty intelligent; managed to score well. Never had studied the whole year; only before the examinations. “Revisions” was not known to me. I was looked down upon by all in the neighborhood. I was timid; often cried back to home complaining someone had said something bad. I wore glasses; my Hindi was not as good. Once I had referred that I had wanted to “wear” a bindi. Vandana, who also was a Bong, had hooted so badly; that I had gone home crying. I then never spoke to her- again. I stayed in the same locality for many years, played too in the same circle; but talking to her never happened. This was when I achieved better score in vernacular than anyone else around..!! For records, I have often earned cent per cent score in my Annuals.
I feel childhood teasing were more of sibling rivalry; only I had never appreciated that. I was that serious kind- always following protocol. I still don’t appreciate blurring limits. Leo, only child, mean, self- centered, too much, difficult….. carry on; that doesn’t bother my a*se. I am how I am; atleast I am honest in admitting. Except for Neenu, all of them were didis- elder to us. I was always put as Kachchi mitti. “Weak soil” who would never be “out”; I was considered to be the weakest player. Oh, while playing gallery; one evening, they all had freaked out because I had completed the word “donkey”.
Mixed feelings. I have not been able to laugh that off. Only felt sad: that am I the same weak player? Am I still weak? Am I playing better? Am I still? Am I (existent)?
Daisy’s mom as she was known as had given that “An autobiography of a Yogi” (the Hindi version) to mom. I was in 3rd. That book was forbidden for me to touch- much less anything else. She had been scared that reading that book, I would end up renouncing the world..!! In a way- I may have already. She would read the stances from the book and then narrate as bed-time stories. Years later, that book had come flying to me as my Birthday present- only to be lost again. I had bought another one few years later; and I still don’t have that!
Years later, the Goyal family had shifted to some other block. I had insisted mom to visit them; this may have been 4 years later- if not more. A large frame with pics from that book was sat at the side- table. I had elbowed mom to take a look. She had not been able to place that they were the same pictures from that “fordidden” book that I was once allowed to flip through only to look at the pictures. Both the elders were surprised at how I had remembered that so well. Savor this- I still remember that and the rest.. Mom had silently admitted that she should have let me read the book.
I had once met Neenu while commuting in a bus, when I worked with Vasant Continental. We did talk, but that was till there. I had then spotted her many years later at the Priya market. No, I didn’t go and talk.
I could not light a match- I was kept scared. That was on purpose since mom never wanted me spend time in the kitchen. Checking on the gas burners before afternoon snooze was my duty. I attended to that diligently reporting a lit burner a couple of times over. The only thing I was made to learn was peeling the onion. Mom would call upon me 5 mns before serving dinner and I would peel a few. Dad too ate onions. Oh, he ate raw onion, raw garlic and green chillies, with every meal (??)
I still didn’t eat myself; often Mom fed me 🙂 I loved how she made small balls out of rice mixed with dal and veggie. I would keep pointing which veggie to add in the next ball. It severely hurts that now, there’s no one around to even enquire why I skipped food.
While on way to my home, one afternoon, our school bus had met with an accident. The right rear tyre had busted. I was sat on the seat just above that tyre. 3 of us were severely hurt. The metal sheet had ripped open sliding on my right leg. It had become senseless. It had rained only a few minutes back. Till the bus could halt at a side, the dirt and mud got embedded in the exposed flesh. It had started to bleed repulsively from several small wounds. The bus was driven back to school in Vivek Vihar, given medical first aid.
Upon reaching home, our next door neighbor had helped us with the medical attention. The sister-in-law worked as a nurse. Anti- tetanus was soon administered; we had gone to the hospital she worked with and given several tubes of ointment to apply. For months I could not toss about to right. I was brought up extra- cautiously ever since. Not that I wasn’t before that; just that then it had become more pronounced.
Our next door neighbors were Christian by religion. Shiju and Shibu bhaiya. They were elder to me and studied in my school. Shibu bhaiya- the elder of the two, had made me learn “Stanley”; I was to address him that when in school. I looked forward to their cakes on Christmas. The only few outings were to neighbor’s Birthday parties. I never celebrated.
Often uncle and I would sing BoneyM; Daddy Cool. He would tune in to Voice of America. He would bering Pen written VOA on them. After finishing homework, evenings were spent in my uncle’s room. Moms never noticed how it hurt me when my Uncle would make rude and nasty comments just like that while speaking with her; wherein I would overhear their conversation and feel confused as to what was my Role to qualify for such remarks. He had prophesied that I was to be struck with a un- ending ill-fate. What did I do? May have annoyed him like all children do- or did I at all? Was he serious and un- passionate to have looked into my future? Did he really hate me that much? What had I done excepting for sitting with him and maybe muttering undecipherables? Was he being thoughtful; since, that’s exactly what hit me soon?
Mom had not appreciated a word about that. I took my uncle for my friend. I remember how I sat him and play around like he wasn’t an elder. He was more like a sibling to me. I didn’t address him as an elder anyways; I communicated with him as we do with our very close friends. I was brought up by 3 parents. Trying to assess that who pampered the most; would be an achievable task. Strangely enough, both the men who had brought me up like I was born out of them had pronounced themselves as barbarian butchers. I have fell short of words and synonyms- anyone with better descriptives; please suggest.
Runa, my cousin, Manu masi’s daughter had come over. Mom was surprised at how she asked for 4th and 5th helping but not more than a couple of spoonfuls each time, so no one noticed the portion. She is 3 years elder to me and had also joined in to play dirty; in her own transpiring manner. Mom had never really liked her; however, had always wanted me to be like her. I was constantly pulled and pushed to behave like a girl who was 3 years elder to me. She lived quite near to my eldest masi. My cousin brothers are practically manu masi’s and mother’s age. Their kids were only a few years younger to me. Meethu (Runa’s pet name) had all the opportunity to play the elder one with the entire brigade. Mom had admired at how disciplined she was. Translation: she was an ultra dumb adolescent who was low on her confidence level- period.
I spent time with her often at her place. Mom had never wanted me to stay overnight and I had obeyed that. Although I loved a change once a while- sigh!! Utter confusion of human minds. And I, left right in the centre of a maze; strangled and torn apart by the elders’ expectations. I loved playing with those white and blue ceramic cup- plates. I had played with those till I had grown up. The one time that Meethu had broken one of those; I had “scolded” her big time. Elders had noticed how I was coming out to be the cautious one. I liked spending time with her; mom didn’t. She thought that Meethu was too scheming; a fact that was established after mom’s demise.
Shambhu mama and Sulekha mami had come over to stay for a fortnight. Actual relationship- not known. Mom had so wanted to join them to for the Agra trip; she couldn’t. She could never visit Taj Mahal. She fretted about the fact that staying I Delhi, she had never visited the Marble wonder.
I loved those green chilies dipped in vinegar that mom prepared. Goyal Aunty had also “taught” how to prepare stuffed green chili pickle and coriander chutney too. They owned a VCR- a big deal then. Often we watched movies. A few of those Govinda, Chunkey Pandey and Neelam movies had happened in the afternoon. We had once watched “Sholay”, only till interval; electricity went off. “Wo Saat Din” had turned me into a Brooding Hen. So had “Rao Saheb”. Mom had noticed that how at that age, I could watch those intense movies. I had sat questioning mom that why Tanvi Azmi had not walked out on everyone after being equipped and educated. Why she had needed a spineless Anupam Kher to start her life again. I had only remembered the characters for all these years. A year back I googled the name of the movie out. My questions still remain the same. Infact, I wish to watch the two movies again.
Vikram Betal, Star Trek, Buniyaad, Hum Log; were the popular tele- series. Mr. and Mrs.- where Archana Puran Singh had first appeared on TV. Shekhar Suman was 1st casted; so was Kiran Juneja. Kaushalya Gidwani in Air- hostess was absolute glamour doll. Ye Jo Hai Jindagi- I still recall the title track and also the Sangeeta Bijlani’s commercial of Vicco Turmeric Cream. Vicco sponsored that YJHJ. Swaroop Sampat was the mod woman of those times. If anyone of you could lay hands on the yesteryear’s evergreen comedy serial again; check out her outfits. “Raja, mere Gulab- Jamun kisne khaye…. Satish Shah was the miscreant in every episode, in different characters thouh. Rakesh Bedi was a debutante. The “Nukkad” theme was “taught” in band sessions in our school. I had in my drean had pulled my mom’s hair thinking I was scratching that Demon’s (Rakshas) beard. LOL.
Neenu, Sonia, Deepu and I often played upon the characters of Dad- dadi ki kahaniyaan. In complete public view..!!
Even though that mom had loved the new place that was bigger too, she was soon handicapped by her better half. May be I should say the ugly half. I so hate the fact that I am his blood. Of someone, like him. People around me call my behavior strange; I am far better than him. I have my own reasons for not marrying again and or bearing a child; atleast, I am no where around to hurt my spouse and my kid. I wonder why they call a father a Father. I mean, go through any Vedic text, they refer to a father as a God; since he is the real bearer of the child. To hell with those scriptures; and such depictions. Maybe, the Society had been a Male dominated one since then. I have rarely read of any scripture being written by a woman. So, when males were the one to have scribbled those; then what better than singing one’s own praises?
She had so desperately wanted me to be saved of any disaster. That was small compared to those that were to soon hit her; and me later.
Edit: I had incorrectly mentioned “Sebastian” instead of “Stanley”. A few weeks back, I have connected with Shiju on FB 😀 . That’s when he had pointed out and hence the correction. Thank you Shiju.
Next- Shaping up my Mind- III
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