Monday, March 18, 2013
Yesterday I planned out my day today--had a few errands to run in SoBo as we Mumbaikars refer to South Mumbai----and had to request Vanita to come early--just so that she could baby sit Rasika while I did my stuff!!This was a first in about 23 years--for since before that I've been leaving my household help alone in the House with the keys.Today I'm wary of leaving Rasika alone--reason??I'm wary of trusting her so completely and becoming dependent on her being there.Having Vanita to baby sit Rasika meant requesting her other two Employers to bear with me--but since we three are pretty close they readily agreed.
On my way through SoBo I passed by our old Family home--- since sold---- and a rush of Memories came flooding back!!Sudhir's family shifted into that Flat way back in 1939--just after his paternal grandfather's death.My brother-in-law Milind was the first baby born in that Flat and maybe that's why his umbilical cord was tied firmly to the place!! Suhas and Sudhir as well as a number of first cousins followed for it was a joint family of four brothers--Baba and his 3 brothers.It was somewhere in the early 50s that Sudhir's Grandma insisted they separate--for though the Flat was huge it was still a bit too crowded for comfort.I still remember my MIL's reminisces about the first few days after they moved apart.Neither of the brothers had begun to think in terms of just their nuclear family--they still counted the entire number of children in the house--as a result of which quite a few amusing incidents occurred.Between the four brothers there were 17 children--ranging from teenagers to tiny tots.Due to the large number Fruits like Bananas were bought by the entire stems with several huge bunches attached to it.Not just that all the sisters-in-law had problems working out the exact proportions their individual families required instead of the earlier huge joint one.As a result of this Tiffins were regularly distributed--also because none of the aunts could eat something that happened to be the favourite dishes of their nieces or nephews--which also meant a regular exchange of Food items!!most of all the women missed their daily Gossip sessions during the afternoons---for that was the time they all sat together to pick and clean the Rice for both--that evening's Meal and the next day's Lunch!!Besides some relative or the other would always drop in--and partake endless cups of Tea with large amounts of whatever Snack was prepared for Tea time!!
Later emptied by the rest,the original Flat was retained by Baba---and as my MIL was my father's older sister--many of my childhood Memories are equally attached to Atya's home as well as that of my maternal Grandparents.There was a sort of a Storeroom--which was converted into a spacious Bedroom when Milind and Nina married.This happened to be my favourite room.All the Junk was piled up in this room along with thick,fat Cotton Mattresses.The Mattresses were piled one on top of another---and right next to the window.It was my favourite place to curl up and read---until Sudhir came home from College.He'd then usurp my comfortable perch for a quiet snooze after shoving me out and locking the door--for this was the least frequented place in the entire house!!All the skirmishes we had regarding that favourite perch ended with him winning hands down--he was bigger,older and very logical--he knew how to make the Case in his favour--but I could never best him!!Not then--not later either when the equation of our relationship changed after our marriage.
Those early years of my life in Atya's home are of being extremely cherished and pampered--with everyone including Sudhir dancing attendance to me.Only in his case he was really bad in teasing me about my accent in speaking both English and Hindi--the former with British overtones thanks to the Nuns--the latter with Punjabi lilt thanks to the place I lived in.Another language he tormented me with was Marathi.Now both Hindi and Marathi share the same Devanagri Script.Atya would send me loads of Marathi Books--and whilst devouring these voraciously I absorbed the perfect Grammar they used.A result of this was that though my Marathi was grammatically perfect--it was the archaic version and not the colloquial one that was used in regular parlance!!On my side, I was a complete pest where he was concerned--constantly pestering him to listen to my stories--for I was a geek and a very boring one at that!!No wonder he'd escape to the Storeroom and lock me out!!
Indian men of that Era are definitely Male Chauvinist Pigs--and the Love of my Life was no different!!Surprisingly both Milind and Sudhir had ancient ideas in comparison to their father Baba--Atya definitely accomplished a lot more than either Nina or I did--despite belonging to an earlier Generation!!The same was the case with my mother---Daddy's broad minded open thinking was something that she never really imbibed.I still remember her voicing certain sentiments after Daddy died--that truly sent me reeling with shock!!Was this the same mother I knew since birth---the metamorphosis into this narrow minded person was something I just couldn't fathom!!Today I too am finding paradoxes within myself.While I still look at Life as a Glass half full the undertones of my Genetic Tradition are definitely lurking just beneath the surface of my equanimity.I prefer to wear mostly White,do not use Lipstick except abroad where the Weather causes dry lips---and am just biding my time till my call comes.I go through all the motions of living a normal Life while actually I'm totally detached and cut off from the World I live in.Now the interesting question is this--is this permanent or merely a transient phase I'm going through??More fodder for Thought!!