Thursday, July 11, 2013
My parents were literally babes in the Woods where organising their finances were concerned--for though Daddy enjoyed an extremely healthy Salary both had no inkling of how to invest money profitably.We three sisters always got the best in everything and since those days the idea was that "Money corrupts" they kept us safely away from it.Besides if we had everything that we needed handed to us on a plate--what the Hell did we actually need Pocket Money for??? We literally would save up for almost an entire year to scrape up enough money to buy both of them Books on their Birthdays and their Anniversary for both were voracious readers.
Those days we had no T.V. only the Radio would be our companion---conking off due to lack of Electricity during Load Shedding hours.Hence Books became my firm friends---how I loved to read without a break--literally devouring the Books up in my perch on the "Neem" Tree much to the irritation of both--Mummy and Amma, my Nanny.Mummy despaired that I was too tomboyish--Amma screeched about each and every scrape mark I gathered!!However since my sister Mikki was born a Blue Baby and hence was a sickly child---she helped to keep both of them off my back for most of the time.When I think of those days I am truly thankful to The Almighty for having given me an exceptionally beautiful childhood--carefree,innocent and replete with Nature!!I have been blessed with so many beautiful moments that all I need to do to snap back from unpleasant thoughts is to think about the Pictures of my childhood--the vividity and clarity with which they flood back is really astonishing.
Daddy's younger sister,Kusum Atya too had shifted to Chandigarh with her family---her husband Sharad Kaka and daughters Meera and Vaija. Meera was 2 years older than me and Vaija just 9 months my senior---and as a result the three of us would get to spend plenty of time together.They were much smarter than me in every way---as they had lived in various places including New Delhi thanks to their father's job.I was perhaps for the first time forced to acknowledge that I was the "Country Bumpkin" compared to them and I'll honestly admit that realisation was extremely off putting and unpleasant!!However soon the "Culture Shock" wore off and I settled back into my comfortable provencial cocoon once more.However we shared a Blood bond and that gradually actually introduced us to each other properly.
As we spent more time together the outer veneer of Sophistication slowly wore away and the 3 of us began bonding in the true sense of the word.Daddy loved having people over--and his darling sister was always welcome as were her family.It is the Summer Vacations that we all spent together that have created some great Memories.
Meera and Vaija would have stay overs at our home and then we'd three of us huddle in my Bedroom.I'm sure that my eyes must have turned into saucers when they narrated their escapades from their Boarding School days in Waverley School in Mussoorie. Having been raised on a steady dose of Enid Blyton books I fell hook,line and sinker for their stories--realising pretty late in Life about how expertly they had strung me around!!We shared books by Chiro and would attempt reading each other's palms to foretell the Future--however I drew the line at both Planchett or similar activity because while Ghosts do not scare me I still have a healthy respect for them--and I would rather let the sleeping dogs lie!!The best part was swapping Ghost Stories and getting goose bumps---for each tried to out do the others.Imagine the atmosphere---a dark Moonless night,the Wind sighing in the Trees of the Garden and the Mountains looming darkly eerie and sprinkled with suspended Lights on their slopes in the distance.Thanks to all this nocturnal activity the days would be spent snoring away much to Mummy's irritation.
Movies for us were very few and far in between.The problem was the same as with Pocket Money--these too corrupted our young minds so we were allowed to see only Movies with Religious themes.Thanks to this the Nuns held specially censored versions of movies like "The Ten Commandments","Ben Hur" and " Quo Vadis" in which all immoral activity had been carefully removed!!Of course we also saw Marlon Brando's version of "Julius Ceasar" based on Shakespeare's Play since Shakespeare was a very huge part of our Syllabus.Amma would gain permission to take us to the Movies named "Sampurna Ramayana" or "Mahasati Anasuya" because distance between the protagonists was maintained.These Movies and others like these meant that she and her counterparts who chaperoned us would also carry along Coconuts,Garlands and fresh Flowers and the Images would freeze on the screen to allow such devotees to pay their respects to all the Dieties that appeared on the scene!!Amma also would insist on taking us to the local "Ram Leela" that was held at almost every street corner.That was something that I loved----the flickering Gas Lamps casting fascinating shadows,boys playing the female roles and flashing loads of Gilt and glitter and a beloved story that everyone knew by heart---it would still recreate spell binding Magic to hold all enthralled during those October nights!!However I hated crowds but would still be dragged by Amma willy nilly to the finale--the burning of Ravana at the Parade Ground.Here she'd with great conviction and piety offer her Coconut,Garlands and Flowers to Ram,Sita and Laxman--insisting that I touch their feet and obtain their Blessings.What turned me off was the stink of stale Hooch,the strong Beedies they'd smoke and unwashed body odour that emanated from them but Amma would be be impervious to all this and adamant so finally I'd have to comply!!
I sometimes still long for the carefree innocence we enjoyed--never needing more than what we had and as long as our Parents were there to protect us God was in His Heaven and all was right with our World!!