Oh c’mon! These cobwebs won’t vanish so easily. It was just that last weekend I was partying with my folks in Pune.
BTW ‘Thanks’ to all those who read the stuff on this space and even wait for whatever I cook here. Initially, I advertised and many people came and read out of friendly courtesy but now its only dedicated patrons.
Hmm! I got a lot of reactions on all the stories that I wrote below. The most common feeling was the latter ones don’t have those dramatic tail-spins as the first two. Simple stories don’t appeal is it? And there is one who prefers orange dawns over the kinky palate and there is another who feels the edge is lost whenever he doesn’t see the kink! So you see good gossip is what sells. But I am a bloody accountant, I don’t sell. I count the money made at the end of the day and show you the reality without any garnish.
This time, I am gonna write about a world within our world, which we don’t see, we don’t observe but its something which is so alive and so beautiful right in the middle of this entire ruckus. I always regretted growing up. And somehow I still get along beautifully with kids more than adults. It’s their world, (and that’s what it is about this time) that I fit in so comfortably, rather than this one where I keep getting lost all the time. I am so sick of trying to find my way every now and then.
So here I go! And by the way, whatever I write here today isn’t fiction; even the names are not changed. J
I belong to this small town called Satara, about 2 ½ hours drive from Pune. I have some relatives there and we do make frequent trips to that place. Satara is another Malgudi. In fact I could go on writing tales about the town itself, but I’ll save that for some other day.
My Atya (Dad’s elder sister) stays there. Her grandson was about two and a half years old when he had started going to a play school. We call him Pranav. Pranav is the only son my bro and bhabhi have, so he didn’t have a sibling to look upto when he came. He was a very quite kid. Mainly because in a riotous family like ours, he never got a chance to open his mouth. But Play school changed a lot of things. He found a friend called Soham. Suddenly he wanted to watch all ‘cool’ cartoons on TV. Once I caught him watching ‘Power-puff girls’, and imagine he told me in his baby voice, “Atya please don’t tell my friends that I was watching PPG”
It was fun to watch them play. I would normally take my novel and sit in hearing distance to see what goes on in that little world. One evening they had decided to make houses in a pile of sand. Each one was busy making his home; and there came Avinash the bully. Avinash was in second grade; he was the tallest among all. He wanted to make a castle and not a small house. After sometime, I could hear Pranav and Soham shriek, “Hey why are you taking our sand? There is plenty of it on the other side.”
Avinash didn’t care, “but I want this sand. You two go and fetch that one for yourself.” These two didn’t say anything and got back to their work. After sometime, Avinash wanted more sand and he took some from our builders’ site. “Avinashhhhhh!” they shouted. But the big boy just would listen. This went on for sometime, till it came to a fist fight. Avinash came and hit Pranav hard. I was just about to intervene, but then I witnessed the most amazing settlement of a brawl. Soham got up, unzipped his shorts, pissed on the sand, and said, “You want all the sand right, now take it.” For next two days, I was laughing even in my sleeps. I immediately took both the boys for a double ice-cream treat, I was so proud of my nephews!
Pranav and Soham were thick pals. Once Soham’s Mom had hit him for something and he came to his buddy. They were sitting under our mango tree and discussing, “I think we have to call Shaktimaan, my Mom keeps beating me…” To which Pranav replies, “I don’t think Shaktimaan can do much, we will have to call ‘Jai Hanuman’! I wish their Mom’s could have heard that their kids thought of them as ‘Mutant Ninjas’ who could be tackled by Super-heroes alone.
Both of them couldn’t do without each other. You would always find them walking hand in hand. But there was one issue where the friendship took a back-seat. And that was the time I realized, this ‘guy thing’ comes inbuilt in the piece itself. Every evening, you would see them walking hand in hand to their third friend’s home. A little girlie called Pushpal. The hands would come off as soon as they reached her home, and there would be a fight over, who would ring the doorbell. So they would be fighting outside her door, all neatly combed hair in a mess, and finally aunty would open the door after hearing the commotion outside her house. I sometimes wonder what the lady must be thinking. At two her daughter was causing a mob fight at her door-step, by the time she would be twenty, her parents would have to keep Hounds and Dobermans to guard the house. And Pushpal madam was even smarter. She would come to play with both of them on each side and holding one hand of hers. After that, all they did was, “Pushpal see I can run faster, Pushpal see I can jump a longer distance, Pushpal see I have a toffee for you. Pushpal who is your favourite, me or him?” The guy who was favoured that evening, would eat his dinner without any tantrums, no sleeping tantrums, he would be the best boy that evening. And the not so favoured, could be heard howling in the neighbourhood.
Then came Deepa Atya (that’s me). Now where every other guy had an Atya who was older than his dad, in a boring saree and always nagging, Pranav’s Atya, wore Jeans, went to a college, took him around on a bike to eat ice-creams and played with him. I didn’t even realize, our boy was already hogging footage in the gang, over his Atya.
I would find it a little strange. Pranav’s friends would come home, look at me, and when I smiled and said hello, they would jump and giggle and run off as if they came to a zoo to see a rare species. It was one evening when Bhabhi’s friend came home, and half jeeringly said to me, “I have come to see Deepa Atya today, coz Pranav doesn’t let every one meet Deepa Atya. My boy is asking his father, don’t you have any sister like Deepa Atya?” After that, I gave a good one to that brat of a nephew of mine. So all the kids were allowed in, and I made it a point to play with each one of them.
But the best piece was this one. One evening, every one else had left and only Soham was lingering around. And these are two and a half year old guys ok! I was reading a book in the drawing room. And both of these guys would come, stand for sometime and run away. First I thought, they are playing something, but it wasn’t so. So I looked up.
I asked them, “what are you both upto now?” Pranav spoke up, “Deepa Atya, Soham wants to say something to you.”
Then Soham came ahead. “Deepa Atya, can I kiss you on both your cheeks?” Trust me, I think no guy can beat this one ever in my life. These kisses would always be special to me. There was some fear, some anticipation, some excitement in those tiny eyes which I can never ever forget. I smiled and nodded and bent down. He came and slowly kissed me on both my cheeks. And as if that encouraged him further, he asked me “now can you kiss me on my cheeks too?
I was simply smiling ear to ear. And I am smiling as I am writing this as well. Of course, I kissed him too. It’s something that I will never forget. My youngest admirer. :) I think it’s all about the innocence and the simplicity of those years. I hold on to mine very dearly, but I don’t know why, people prefer growing up.