Sunday, July 13, 2008

And Daddy sewed her head.

That was a bad phase of our lives.
I was in class 5th, Nani in 10th. Daddy was transferred to a place named Joda, in Keonjhar district of Orissa.
A place with a single school, tribals, elephants, malarian mosquitoes and narrow roads polka-dotted with heaps of elephant dung- Hot, steaming and almost appealing to anyone who had lost the sense of smell.

When Daddy realised that it was place hardly habitable for us all as a family, and it could have meant compromise on mine and Nani's studies, he just made us feel the evaluatory trip to Joda was a weekend getaway- till we realized at the end of it that Daddy is going to move in there, with me Mamma and Nani at Nalco.
I think i took it the worst. And somehow i feel that Nani and Mamma knew it from before.
Not that i loved Daddy the most. I did of course. But because i was the most emotional out of the bunch.
Daddy pre-bought me my birthday gift- a Ladybird cycle, with a basket in the front, the ownership of which was transferred , once we moved to Delhi, to Makeyi, Saratamma's granddaughter, who used to steal semi-ripe guavas from our backyard of Nalco house and eat it with salt and lemon. So Daddy left with a Kenstar rice-cooker and other essentials for survival to that place.
I remember wailing like a hyena.

Daddy then become much more precious to me than he ever was. I have faint childhood memories of one day when sitting on the porch, having a teatime chat, Daddy had asked me casually whom i loved more, him or Mamma. I was inclined to say it was him, but then on realizing that Mamma might be hurt, i had said i loved both equally. Once he had almost become a guest at our place owing to his job, i was vocal about my feelings: i loved Daddy the most, and incidentally more than Mamma.

In Nalco, things were different after that. Self-reliance of a household with the male head away was something we had to learn tough way. Reminders stuck on wall about when to pay whom, which cheque should not be allowed to bounce, when the EMIs had to be paid, when the medical check-ups were due for Bapa and Ma.

Few relationships got strained, never the less within the tolerable limits of elasticity as i later concluded. Acquaintances were more helpful than the people we were related by blood or by marriage.

Money was never a problem, but i guess it turned out to be a bit tough for Mamma to manage us three, with everyone having their exclusive headaches, doing a multplier effect when it all came down to her: Nani and her academic compulsions, the needs of being dropped at school and be brought back, tuitions, her otherwise demands of clothes which needed to be bought a bit too often. And i think alone Nani would not have been a problem if i was not there. With my contirbutions, which i can see were arranged in a very systematic alphabetic way: Allergic rashes, Asthma, Diarrohea, Fever, Vomitting; Mamma was just having a toughtime.

Daddy had to do a compulsory year there, before we moved in to Delhi. The cognizance of the fact never relieved me. Each fortnight when Daddy used to come back home for weekend, i hardly used to be happy: coz i would mostly would be preoccupied with how he was required to leave in two days.

Nevertheless, those two days every fifteen days were each time the two most beautiful days of my life. Coughing, scratching, puking, or in whichever state i would be depending upon what had struck me, i would listen interestedly to all the tales which had. About the elephants. About the tribal farmer who had gifted him artichokes. About the tribal kids who were fascinated by stethoscope and syringes until they realized that the later had such painful use (i think the fascination is normal for any child for that matter) About the people who prayed to get well and i could not believe doctor-the-God could exist outside movies.

The best was the narration about the tribal woman who worked as a labourer at the lime kiln on whose head a stone fell requiring stitches on scalp. When i had fretted enough about the rashes Daddy told me how this woman had sat unmoved an entire hour as he placed multiple stitches on her head. She had without emotions of pain or fear watched the fan- one two three- the low voltage making it easy for her to keep trak of the no. of rotations per hour. I should stay put too: moral of the story. But i never learnt. Allergy and mroe importantly Daddy's leaving in next one day were obviously more painful then few stitches, he must have been lying, may be they actually gave anaesthesia or something. I don't care, did not then care.

I had my own stories, of how my being fat now was becoming unbearable with bus students teasing me to pay up double the fees. How birthday was good and i did not offer toffees to two particular students who had called me 'Moti' even on my birthday and finally what all things did Mamma not allow me to do. He was all ears for everything, i guess he must be thinking that a two years break in this aspect at least i coming. Hours and then again i wail.

Its a bit weird when you expect gifts from people who come from places famous for jackfruits, dried costly brinjals and humanly-non edible non vegetable stuff. Daddy's pre-birthday gift was something which had to keep me happy for a year.

The one year eventually ended. We moved in to Delhi. Things were good. I just stopped short from becoming a person having acquired every possible ailment, or may be the youngest one to do so. Those memories have become triumphant ones: showcasing Mamma's tolerance and skill at managing situations and mine and nani's 'good children' proofs.

Its difficult to conclude this narration. Its not that that phase is over in real sense. I have (My roomie has!) a kenstar cooker here at college. Shameerpet is not even famous for jackfruits but for snakes as against elephants in Joda. But Mamma Daddy do not cry as bad as i used to. I feel a bit bad at times, for always, for me, a good bye for a loved one should be tearsoaked. I hate smiling good byes.

But then i m not in class 5 now to not understand these nuances.....

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