Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reading about Janet's grandson I was reminded of Meha at the same age.She was an extremely pretty but mischeivous little thing and also very bossy.She knew for us the Sun shone out of her--and what I remember most is the look of delicious anticipation she used to wear the moment her mother rang our bell---and the extreme delight on getting the desired reaction from us!!Lotta fell ill when Meha was about 2 years 6 months old and as a result they spent the next few months with us till Lotta recovered fully.
It was during that period we took a trip to the North to my beloved mountains.Meha loved the Train journey--and because we'd taught her to eat everything she literally enjoyed the excellent Food available on the way.However drinking Water was a problem.Sayali and Kartik were dating then and Kartik knew someone who manufactured Drinking Straws made from Fibreglass.These straws had some Silver and other things inside it to purify the Water and really stood us in great stead during our trip.Meha loved drinking Water at that age--(would I that she loved it as much still!!) and was initially very fussy about using the straw.The topic of stubborn arguments was that if Aaji (me) could drink straight out of the Glass why couldn't she too?Besides knowing that her mother wasn't very strong she'd very imperiously order Sayali,Ritu and me around like we were her lackeys.
Besides there was the problem of Commodes.We'd carried her small Potty Seat---large enough to fit over a Commode but she hated using the Indian Squatting Toilets--screwing up her nose at these.One of our family friends Narayan Da and his wife Pushpaben had accompanied us as usual and luckily the room they had alloted to them had a Commode.So finally the little fiend was satisfied!!Cell phones had just made an appearance in India 2-3 years before Meha's birth.Sudhir had this habit of pacing up and down while using his Cell phone--Meha would use her toy Cell to mimic him--walking behind him mouthing the same words in the same tone of voice till he was forced to call off before doubling up laughing--the situation really used to be hilarious!!Sudhir had this habit of praying before his Meals.at sundown and the moment he woke up.Meha would leave the Girls' bedroom early in the morning as soon as the Milkman rang the Doorbell.She'd amble out of the bedroom with her arms outstretched and eyes tightly shut calling out "Aaji malaa ghey" meaning Aaji please pick me up as she ambled up to the Kitchen.When I'd pick her up she'd put her arms around my neck and legs round my waist,clinging on to me like a little Monkey!!By now Sudhir's Tea would be ready--and i'd deposit Meha and the cup of tea with Sudhir.She'd snuggle down next to him--telling him about the Dream she'd had the earlier night and once he'd had his Tea, clamber on to his stomach and play with his hair!!If it was a working day,she'd do her best to detain him next to her cooking up all sorts of wild stories--making poor Aabu feel as guilty as Hell for going to the Courts !!
Meha's afternoon naps always meant Story time--she loved to listen to everything I pumped into her--Aesop's Fables,Hans Christian Anderson,The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales and many stories from the Indian Pancha Tantra as well as the Jataka tales.She was like a sponge--absorbing all this with each minute detail intact.I discovered this when once she came over to visit us along with her first cousins--Jinal and Monil.Monil being a year younger had to bear the brunt of two older sisters who felt they knew better than he did.While this applied to Monil, Meha herself refused to accept Jinal's authority totally--despite Jinal being 6 years her senior!!While asserting her independence to Jinal she would sometimes quote some stories from the Pancha Tantra to drive home her point more effectively and thus to get her own way.Other times she'd cuddle Monil and tell him some of these Stories to lull him to have his nap.
When Lotta fell ill, Meha came even closer to us.She'd sleep in our bed between the two of us--something she continued doing as she grew older.This continued onto become a family ritual--each time Lotta and she visited,she'd insist on sleeping with us.Later after they moved to USA it became an unwritten family tradition--the first night after we reached and the last night before we left,she'd share our bed.She'd sleep with her arms slung around our necks--exactly just the way she'd greet us at the Airport when we arrived.She'd come flying towards us like a long legged,mettlesome Filly--her thick mane of hair streaming out behind her--to hook an arm around both our necks and then draw us close enough to strangle us in a tight hug!!Last time it was only me--and when she clutched me tightly with tears streaming down her cheeks,I knew our little girl had grown up--the cuddlesome little Baby Doll had disappeared for ever!!
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