” who says we have to grow up?”
Long long ago , when roosters roosted , rivers flowed , birds chirped , I pooped ; my parents decided it was time for me to get enrolled into a school owing to which , the need to think of a full time name became inevitable. At-the-desk-of-and-with-the-advice-of the principal , a name was chosen , one out of the myriad names of Lord Rudra , a Rigvedic deity , the Hindu god of hunt .
CHAPTER-5 : METAMORPHOSIS
The three of us scampered through the house , ran through which a straight corridor like a spine from the front to the back door with halls and bedrooms on either side. The most vied-for , sought-after thing/being/everything was the grandmother (daadi) . Daadi had a set of false teeth which she , at night , used to scare the wits out of us. She held us close , and pushed out the denture which came out of her mouth giving the semblance of a hag.
She talked us into our dreams at night and we fought among us to lie alongside her.
There was an awful lot of plump lizards in the house which were the most dreaded animals in the home . They lived behind a big painting which hung at one of the walls in the drawing room . At daytime , they lurked behind the painting brooding conspiracies and hatching plots which they hoped to manifest at evening when everyone would keep eyes glued to the television and they’d acquire some leeway to maneuver . All they ever got , however , were some insects and occasionally tough butterflies when they tried their tongues on the plastic butterflies glued to the walls.
My father , most of the months of the year used to be away from us on account of his being an army personnel . I had 3 uncles , Eld , Elder , Eldest who treated us with ice-creams and other things every day till the time they had their own children . The frequency of the treats in the aftermath of which , decreased logarithmically .
I had only one aunt back then , which changed to three later – Aunt , Aunter , Aunty .The eldest and the only one back then , Aunty , was a lady fair as cotton and had some curious metallic thing in one of her wisdom tooth (the innermost molar tooth ). She had a laugh as loud and as raucous as a witch. Apart from this , she was a lady as garrulous and talkative as an open door on a windy day , never ceasing to go on . The incessant motormouth aunty had the gift of the gab and when alone , she would go on talking to the cows about things far and wide until their long ears fell off. Aunty helped my mother get me ready for school , and even after twenty years , when I try to preach her , she cuts me short with her – “don’t you begin lecturing me now , I’ve brought you up since you scurried around the streets like mowgli in shortpants and washed your godknowswhatwhat since the days you made your red underpants turn topaz …. …. …. “
I studied in a convent school for two years and the only memory except defecating and peeing in classroom are of a certain dance performance for which my mother searched the market , along with me and my youngest uncle , for… bangles. Bangles with shining strips hanging around them . I was made to perform a solitary step wherein we were to bring our bottoms waving down in a feathery zigzag motion and then back up , the same step for almost the entire performance. Moreover , the bangles made me look like a girl. Yes….Like a Girll!!
Once or twice a year we visited my maternal grandparents , Naana and Naani , with two maternal uncles , two aunts , a tail-less dog, a jackfruit tree, a grape vine and about a dozen cows, buffaloes and bullocks in the large shed .
Behind the house was a long field on which were grown more than half a dozen types of crops and vegetables . On the left was the shed and a biogas plant . On the right , the house of my grandfather’s brother ( chote naana and choti naani) who had two children – another set of maternal uncle and maternal aunt. The uncle, however was just a few years elder to us and held nothing back in turning us into urchins . He took us with him whiling the entire day away in fields or flying kites or doing anything other than study.
The front of the house was adorned by two litchi tress on which we climbed to claim our booty. The tailless dog , named Dabba (meaning box) wore a vest owing to the surpassing care he received from my aunts. My uncles, however teased me , for an explicable reason with a name which means the twisted , or crooked one.
Naana was a stern , artless man of candour. Naani , a little frivolous . While Naana held back nothing when it came to thrashing us on our mischieves , Naani held us in her arms like apples of her eyes and mischievously woke us up while we slept with our mother taking the afternoon siesta , whispering into our ears, the tidings of the just arrived ice-cream vendor ( who was the reason in the first place for our mother putting us to sleep).
On returning back once , we decided to keep with us , a puppy , and named him Dabbu.
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previous part- inescapable pigeon droppings : chapter 4
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