Friday, September 17, 2010
My father for all his Intelligence,Sophistication and Stature was just an overgrown baby at heart----the escapades he led us into had poor Mummy in a bind!!!It was as if she had to scold 4 children instead of just us 3 girls!!During Summers Daddy'd come home by 1 p.m.---and after Lunch, he'd snooze a little.By Tea time all four of us would be bored---and we'd suggest washing Daddy's hair or giving him a pedicure---which would perk all four of us up---and put Mummy in a funk!!
In the first option our father was balding----and there wasn't all that much hair left on his scalp to wash but he was game to let us play with whatever precious little hair he had!!He'd lie on the Divan in the Guest Room with his head stuck out over the edge----and we'd swathe his torso with Towels.Then from the attached Bathroom we'd carry in a Plastic Basin and 3-4 buckets of Water---filled to the brim and sloshing away!!The Floor would turn slippery and wet---Mummy'd be standing in the door glaring at us---absolutely fuming!!!We'd pour mugfuls of Water over his hair to wet it and the next step would be shampooing and scrubbing the hair---each one of us would spend 15-20 minutes just playing with poor Daddy's hair---turn by turn---but the Sport that he was---there was nary a complaint---not even a peep!!Today I realise how stiff his neck must have felt---but those days it was just plain fun and hilarious to boot!!!Finally we'd rinse it all off---then each one would take turns drying it out---jerking his head this way and that---for gentle we were not!!The last step was to comb it out and style it----and then show him the Mirror---just to gain his approval!!That evening he'd boast to anybody who was willing to listen---about how his three darling daughters had really given him such a lovely Hair treatment and Massage!!The Pedicure was worse---this was because we'd boil the Water and add very little cold water to it---but the heat never bothered him---he'd just sit back and relax---like a huge Teddy Bear in a pair of shorts---with his legs stretched out in the hot soapy Water!!We'd brush,poke and pull at his Feet and Nails but he never complained----it was the Creamy Massage at the end that he loved the most----and Mummy could never figure out how and why he endured this painful torture!!!The only thing he drew a line at was Nail Paint--that was a definite no-no!!!
Those days we'd get tall,strapping and handsome Peddlers coming down from Afghanistan and Kashmir to sell their Wares--- their fair skins,aquiline profiles and light eyes and hair spoke of their ancient Greek heritage!!They'd carry Dry Fruits and Saffron---Almonds,Pistachioes,Walnuts and Dried Apricots.They'd also carry beautiful Shawls---very large,thick ,soft and warm---made of "Shahtoosh" and "Pashmina" Wool as well as exquisitely hand embroidered Silk Material and Saries---there was a veritable Treasure Trove in the dirty white bundles they carried on their backs!!Mummy'd pick out the Stuff she wanted---Dry Fruits,Saffron,Shawls and Cloth and then the haggling would begin in earnest----it was an awesome sight!!Mummy arguing in mixed Hindi/Urdu while they used a broken Pashtu mixed Urdu----their accents too were so exotic and fascinating to our ears---lilting cadences of rising and falling musical notes!!All 3 of us would squat down there---for they'd stuff our fists full of the Goodies---"Bacchhaa hai Ammi---khaana do!!" (They're just Children Mother--let them eat)they'd exclaim with twinkling eyes and affectionate smiles.After the bargain had been struck and these Peddlers paid,Mummy'd get busy in trying to hide the Goodies in various nooks and crannies in the Store Room,Kitchen and Pantry---away from our greedy hands and hungry eyes----hoping to make the precious Stock last for 2-3 months at the very least!!!We'd then lie in wait for her Kitty Party day---she'd be away for 3-4 hours then---Daddy'd come home early and then we would start the real activity---each one of us would start hunting for the Dry Fruits in different directions---opening and closing various Porcelain Jars and Brass Pots----and when we'd find them---the feast would begin---by the time Mummy came back her precious hoard would be sorely reduced to less than half the original quantity!!!
Today I look back on these memories with greater sympathy towards poor Mummy's plight---I can understand her problems and tribulations---I too have brought up two equally devilish daughters and am still bringing up their Father---who is a totally spoilt Brat---but unfortunately too angular to be a cute,cuddly Teddy Bear!!!