Bhagyashree is a blogger mommy. I am not calling her a ‘mommy blogger’ because though she is the mother of an adorable little boy, she does not just blog about her child or motherhood. She covers a lot of varied things, including short stories and poems. She is your simple next door girl who rides the roller coaster of life with all its emotions and shares them with her readers. Here she recounts how uncannily the present and the past mingle and merge to create a beautiful patchwork.
A bagful of memories
My son picks up his new school bag, looks at it with pride waves to me. I am looking at him, but also seeing another little girl…
She got her first bag when she was in the second standard- a maroon colored Duckback bag. The whole weekend she had waited for Monday to arrive and when it came, she was in a hurry to reach school to show it off. Why such anxiety? Because before that she carried an aluminum box — a hand-me-down from her older sister. In those days kids carried their books either in their hands or in these boxes. So you can understand her love for the new bag. For almost a month she kept it very neat, dusted it diligently and held it lovingly on her lap on the way to and from school lest it got damaged; then slowly the novelty wore off.
He came back from school and burst out, ‘Amma, teacher knows ‘Chubby cheeks’. ‘Huh?’ I ask. ‘You taught me ‘Chubby cheeks, she knows it too.’ I did not hide the smile.
It was ‘open day’ at the Kindergarten just a couple of days after the school opened. The kids were encouraged to perform some song, dance or do anything else that they were comfortable with. The little girl was too shy to dance and so decided to recite a rhyme. She chose Johnny Johnny… because she loved saying HA HA HA in the end. But just before her turn, another girl went and sang it. The little girl was furious: how dared she sing her rhyme! She sang something else which she doesn’t remember today, but does remember giving the other girl dirty looks, much to her bewilderment!
Every day, as soon as his father enters the house, he rushes to give him an update: ‘ Amma gave this, amma did this, she scolded me…etc. ‘khabari (informer)’, I grumble under my breath. His father winks and starts yelling, ‘Why did you scold him?’ and the little darling starts sobbing for having made his father yell at his mother. The little girl peeps in my memory.
Her sister and brother were much older than her, but being closer in age to each other, always ganged up together and left the little girl to her own devices. When her amma and papa left for their late night movie shows, they would leave her with them with the promise of getting them either Children’s World or Amar Chitra Katha on their way back. They would grumble at the responsibility but agree.
Lying under the quilt pretending to sleep, the little girl would listen to their escapades. Her teenage sister was forbidden to read Mills and Boon when the school was in session. So she used such occasions when their parents were out, to read them. All this was observed by the little girl and when she was in a vengeful mood and wanted to get her back at her older sister, she would report such escapades to her parents. But the sight of their crestfallen faces when they got scolded made her remorseful and tearful.
I am busy cleaning the dining table and I notice him creep into the kitchen silently. After a while, I hear the bottle of M&M’s being opened. He comes later to me, an angelic smile on his face; I ask, ‘What happened?’He gives a mischievous smile and says, ‘Nothing’, and I smile to myself.
Her amma would make snacks and ask the little girl if she wanted some. She would say no but when her mother was having her siesta, the little girl would sneak into the kitchen and look for the snacl. Ah! It was so much fun to eat on the sly.
He comes home teary eyed,’ I dropped the tiffin box and all the pakoras fell on the floor’ ( pakoras are his favorite.) My first thought is that he must be hungry but he says no, the teacher fed him an apple; and then we both get busy making pakoras.
The third grade classroom had a wide window sill and all the student sitting next to the window would keep their lunch boxes there. The little girl’s desk-mate loved bhindi (Okra) and one day she had brought those with rotis and was waiting eagerly for the break, and was fiddling with the box on the window sill.. Observing that she was not paying attention to the class, the teacher scolded her: ‘Where is your attention?’ In her confusion she dropped the box, the contents lay scattered — her favourite dish was all over the floor and she cried out, ‘Meri bhindi!’ The little girl shared her lunch with her friend that day.
Hard and soft
His father is making him do his homework. ‘Draw the sleeping line straight, why does it become curvy? Draw it straight!’ he raises his voice. The child doesn’t cry or complain but keeps on trying.
The little girl was fairly good in studies but very poor at drawing. As the final results always included the drawing marks too, her rank always dropped. And so when the teacher remarked that efforts should be taken to improve her drawing, her father took the onus upon himself. After repeatedly telling her what to do, she was still unsuccessful and he twisted her ear in exasperation. The usual cry baby that she was, that day she did not utter a single word but kept on trying without a complaint.
Later in the evening the little girl tiptoed to pick up something from her father’s room. He had a night shift that day and was relaxing and she did not want to disturb him. But she was shocked to hear the sound of sobs – her father was quietly shedding tears. She felt great love for her father then. She was never reprimanded again for her drawing after that day.
The father and son follow the nightly ritual of cuddles, hugs and kisses as they snuggle in the bed and then his father asks, ‘Did I scold you too much when you were doing your homework?’ The little boy shakes his head, hugging his father.
A time to rejoice!
It is open day at his school. All the kids are running around but he sits quietly. When we go in, he doesn’t watch the teacher, but sits and observes us.
The little girl’s school asked the parents to come to meet the teachers to discuss their ward’s progress. The children were not allowed to be with the parents when the teachers talked to them. The little girl would stand afar and look anxiously at her parents’ faces for their reaction. If the feedback from the teacher was negative the father’s shoulders would slump, and if positive, he would sit erect and amma would have a broader smile on her face. Whenever the little girl and her siblings got good marks or were appreciated by the teachers, sweets would be distributed in the neighborhood. That evening there are sweets. The little girl smiles…
The teacher tells us he is bright but a bit sensitive. That he picks up everything very quickly. It is our turn now. That evening we go out to celebrate.
The little girl – no more one – is reliving her childhood all over again with her little son and enjoying every moment.
Life has come a full circle;