Tag Archives: TheNostalgiaSeries

Half A Chocolate

“Happyyy Birrthhdayyy to youuuu” sang the class in excited tones. The birthday girl stood in front of her class in her beautiful glistening white fairy dress, all of 10 years old, grinning from ear to ear. This year, her parents had told her she could give out 2 chocolates if she wanted to! How happy her friends would be! She would be the only one giving out 2 chocolates to the entire class! All the students sat down in complete silence. Any mischief now would mean being sent out of class and no one wanted to miss out on the birthday chocolates.. if rumors spread by the birthday girl’s best friend were to be believed, today they were getting 2 each!! The little fairy went around the class, row by row, placing 2 chocolates on each student’s desk. Under the teacher’s watchful gaze no one dared touch the chocolates without permission. When the girl finished and sat down, the teacher nodded with a smile, but they had to throw the wrappers in the dustbin she reminded them. The class erupted into noisy chaos as all the suppressed excitement came rushing out. Pop went the first chocolate into their mouths, sucking vigorously to finish it off real fast and move onto the second!

While the class delved into the task at hand at supernatural speeds, Lily decided she had to be slow. She had to take her time. There were two chocolates today so that meant greater responsibility of doing things with care. She quietly peeled the cover off the first one and studied it. It was a hard candy, she would have to bite with care, else it would splinter. Keeping one finger to mark the middle of the candy, she brought it between her teeth and bit hard. It didn’t happen the first time, so she gave a harder attempt this time around. The candy cracked, one half went hurtling into her mouth, the other half still in her hand. She quickly gathered up the splinters in her mouth with her tongue and sucked on the candy. But her hands were busy. As fast as her little hands could manage, and with great dexterity, she placed the half in the wrapper and carefully covered it, making sure the 2 ends were frilled as beautifully as they had been in the original. The éclair was much easier to handle, soft that it was, and Lily made sure there was no slack in perfection this time as well. As the class formed a queue to throw the wrappers in the bin, Lily opened her pencil box, and carefully placed the half chocolates there, making sure they wouldn’t fall out if the box was shaken.

Lily’s mother opened the door that evening. “Food is ready”, she said, “You must be hungry, wash and come soon”. Before Lily could take a step ahead, a tiny hurricane came rushing out from the room towards her. “Diiiiidiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!”. Lily smiled. She had almost forgotten. She looked down at the round face of her baby sister raised expectantly, the eyebrows knit with worry and nodded in confirmation. Today was a ‘birthday’ day. The little one closed her eyes using one hand and extended her other one. Lily placed the half-éclair. It took her sister not more than a second to pop it into her mouth and chew-chomp-chew! ‘Thank you Didi’ she said as she turned away. Wait! Didi’s palm appeared magically with another half-chocolate in it!! ‘Mango!!!!!’ she gleefully screamed!! She hugged her sister’s legs, ‘You are the best Didi in the whole world!!’.

When My Sister Gave Birth & I Became A Parent!!

I am the youngest in our family of four. With a gap of nearly 7 years between siblings, there’s often a lot of pampering involved and I was no different. I grew up practically with 2 mothers, my mother-mother & my sister-mother. And while I had a great childhood, by the time I grew up, I realized I had become used to being the child of the house. And that meant I had absolutely no idea how to be a grown up with other children!!! As the years passed by, I would often see girls my age croon to babies and play comfortably with them while I looked at them as if they were aliens. I preferred puppies to babies and didn’t think that would ever change. My natural instincts were nowhere close to maternal…something which I thought many girls of my age already had. Sometimes I thought maybe my hormones had forgotten to kick in…you know, maybe the switch that goes off in girls at some age and makes them want babies just refused to flip or something!!

Whatever the reason, I just couldn’t imagine ever loving a snot-dripping, potty-expelling, vomit-issuing creature ever in my life. And that may have been true too!!

But something changed… My sister got pregnant.

The pregnancy:

All of a sudden, my life was all about the pregnancy milestones.

The first ultrasound image when I just couldn’t focus my eyes well enough to see anything at all! The day when the heart beat could be heard..Endless googling for pregnancy tips… The test when the baby was declared free of anomalies and we cried in relief… The first video where the baby steadfastly refused to remove her(we were pretty sure it would be a girl!!) hands off her face till my sister ate some ice cream… Shopping bigger and bigger clothes for my sister as she outgrew everything every 15 days.. Shopping for teeny tiny clothes of size 0… Waiting patiently with my hand and eyes glued on her tummy urging the baby to kick…Oh, those were some busy 9 months! My phone bills consistently went up as we spent hours figuring out baby boy & girl names. Lists were made for things to be packed in a bag in case of sudden labour. My sister googled for delivery videos so that she would be mentally prepared and I listened to her describe the details, both of us crying in fear!

The photoshoot:

I photobombed the pre-delivery shoot as well, standing between the would-be-parents in most photos, as excited as them, and they indulged me with love as usual. Blown ups of me kissing the baby bump were ordered for and I returned with a big smile. Soon we were excitedly counting the days down and I increasingly worried for my sister as the D-day approached.

The delivery:

And then my sister went into labour. My brother-in-law and I stood next to her, holding one hand each, teary eyed, telling her everything would get fine while not believing our own words looking at her pain. All through the delivery I stood outside, each of my sister’s screams piercing my heart, tears flowing down my cheeks, fervently praying that she had the strength to get through this and come back to me safe and sound. While the world thinks a baby’s coming is a beautiful thing, I still have chills when I think back to that day, they were really difficult hours.

It was she who was giving birth, yet I was experiencing more pain than I ever had.

When the screaming stopped, I waited with bated breath till my brother-in-law appeared with a smile on his teary face and said it was a boy and that the mother was fine. We entered the room and I saw my sister smiling at us, and that was when I dared to breathe again.

The first few days:

He was tiny. Like, really tiny. And for the first day, I refused to touch him. What if I dropped him? What if I couldn’t balance his neck properly? What if I hurt him by mistake? By night finally my sister told me I couldn’t avoid it forever. She had always been the one to instill confidence in me and this was no different. Finally, I took him into my arms, lifted him to my face and smelled him. And then I fell in love with him. I knew there could never be a smell as beautiful as his. There was no turning back then. He couldn’t latch properly for breastfeeding and I struggled with my sister to help him. Most of the times it is the mother who is with the daughter in such times. But in our case, it was me who stayed back with the new parents in the hospital to help with the baby. The elders laughed at this arrangement, but understood the emotions attached. The first night, there were 3 of us struggling to change his diaper, 3 adults fighting with each other on the right way to do it. The little brat kept us on our toes. The 3 days we were in the hospital we had to take turns sleeping and none of us managed to sleep more than 2 hours at a stretch. Little did we know that would be the norm thereafter!!

That first year:

By God’s grace, that was the year when my parents, me and my sister’s family all ended up in the same city. It was the most beautiful year of my life. My life changed that year. We lived from milestone to milestone. No jaundice, check. First vaccination, check. Eyes,ears tests, check. We cried on his first bath. We laughed as he enjoyed our massages. Sleep and rest were things to be dreamt of. I don’t think I have watched TV since that year, he didn’t let us and I just lost the habit thereafter. Somehow I was good at putting him to sleep. I would sit with him for hours on the rocking chair, crooning till my throat ached, not stopping till he fell asleep, scared to move an inch lest he woke up again. Handling snot, potty and vomit became my ‘baayn hath ka khel’! I would wake up in the middle of the night when he cried and when the parents were already too tired, and spend an hour again trying to soothe him. I do look like his mother at times and we used that trick to fool him so my sister could take rest. The first time he turned over on his own, the first time he lifted his head, the first time he smiled, the first time he started on foods other than milk, the first time he sat up, the first time he crawled, the first time he said “Dada” and “mamamama” and “phurrr”….my life that year revolved around his first steps in this new world.

And…somehow..surprisingly, he loved me back too.

He would stop crying when I took him, he would laugh the loudest when I played with him, he would come rushing to me whenever he was in the mood for masti…..and my heart would melt and I would fall in love with him even more each day, if that was even possible.

The Bidaai:

When he was 9 months old, I got married and had to move to a different city.

Telling him goodbye was the hardest thing I had ever had to do.

It was unimaginable not being woken up at night to his cries, not having his tiny hands pulling my hair, not listening to his gurgly bubbly laughter as I did monkey acts. I left my heart behind when I left, with the silent prayer that my baby doesn’t forget me, doesn’t forget the 9 months I spent with him pressed to my chest.

And now:

The bond we forged during those first 9 months has stayed on with my darling.

My angelic sister and wonderful brother-in-law make sure their son remembers how much his aunt loves him. From being a secondary-mother to being his friend who he asks to talk to over phone to demand for gifts, we have come a long way. Every time I skype with him even today, there is a desperate longing tugging at my heart to hold him close and smell his familiar smell. And though it isn’t always possible, I am happy to see him smile no matter how far away he may be. He is a big boy now, all of 3 years old, using big English words, acting grown up, asking us to leave him alone at times and I can’t help but think back of the day I was too scared to even pick him up in my arms!! ?

And thus…

I still love puppies ? But today I know I do have a loving mommy in me who can handle human babies as well! And what’s amazing was the realization that it didn’t even have to be my child for me to love him wholeheartedly….

the switch had finally flipped! ?

The Magical World of Enid Blyton!

A little girl, all of 9 years old, had locked herself up in her room. Her parents had been warned not to disturb her. Afterall, she had a few important meets lined up. First she had to visit Janet and her brother Peter and their 5 friends in their shed again. Their mother had promised there would be hot scones, ginger biscuits, sardine & potted meat sandwiches and huge jars of jam & cream for the high tea. Scamper was already present, tail thumping away, eyes drawn every now and then to the laden table! Then, she would have to visit George, Anne, Julian & Dick as they set out on their cycles up the hill to the little shop that sold lemonade, grape-fruit juice, ginger-beer, and delicious ice creams. Timmy would chase their cycles, as always, distracted every now and then by the rabbits scurrying down their holes at his sight!

A trip last week to the Isle of Wight & Dorset here in the United Kingdom, presented before me a moment of intense nostalgia. In a quaint little English restaurant, we tried the Cream Tea. Alongside the steaming tea were 2 scones, warm and fresh from the oven. A slice in the middle and dollops of clotted cream and jam later, this little piece of heaven melted in my mouth and transported me back to the little room, with my friends Peter, Janet & George from Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven & The Famous Five. The little girl in me had come home ?

Cream Tea @ Isle Of Wight, UK

Enid Blyton wasn’t just a British author. She was a magician. A children’s writer, she enthralled many, many young adolescents like me. The world through her eyes was an exciting place! She brought home to me my teenaged friends and amateur detectives who enjoyed adventure. Their little escapades…complete with their secret codes and hide-outs and mini picnics fascinated me beyond measure! Her plots felt nail-bitingly interesting to my young mind…who could the culprit be?! I would open her book and read her detailed descriptions and lose myself completely in her world. There, in the confines of my room, I ran alongside her characters and their dogs as they chased thieves and solved cases for the police, I sat beside them as they enjoyed delicious meals prepared by their mothers, I laughed with them as they chatted over ice creams and I cried with them when their dogs got kidnapped. In short, Enid Blyton showed me that there’s a huge vast world outside, and I could see all of it if I wanted, right from my room, as long as I had a book by my side. While I had started reading much before her books, I think it was she who truly instilled this passion for words in me. It was through her that I realized the power a book had in shaping my mind. Afterall, imagine a little girl having seen and felt in her mind’s eye the things that she would only be experiencing for real 18 years later!

The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

As I grew up, I realized how many facets of my personality have been shaped around what I read as a child. My love for the written word was just a tiny reflection of how Enid Blyton had touched my life. When she had said “Dear, silky old Scamper, his ears flopping up and down as he rushed into the hall, his tail wagging nineteen to the dozen. He flung himself on the children, barking loudly in joy”, it was me that Scamper had been running to and I knew I would love dogs all my life. She had made my mouth water with “The high tea that awaited them was truly magnificent. Lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, mustard and cress, carrot grated up..lashings of hard boiled eggs. There was an enormous tureen of new potatoes , all gleaming with melted butter, scattered with parsley…Look at that cream cheese too. And fruit cake. And are those drop-scones?..And there’s cherry tart made with our own cherries and our own cream in it”! She spoke of jam tarts and ginger cake with black treacle and I fell in love with food. She would have been a fantabulous food blogger in today’s world. Her characters went boating to islands or cycling atop hills or swam in the beaches…and I grew up loving to travel.

The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

I have always believed that a fantastic fiction writer is one who, with their words, can stimulate your mind enough for you to create your own movie in your head. That’s usually why most movies on classics fall short of their original books, something is always lacking, because the movie that had played in your head had been wayyy more detailed & descriptive than the one playing out on the screen. Enid Blyton is one such writer. While there have been many more books from my childhood, if there is one book I pick even today when I’m craving for comfort, it is definitely hers. My personal favourites are The Secret Seven and the Famous Five series. I also enjoyed her The Five Find-Outers and Dog and The Naughtiest Girl series. Much later, I realized she was the one to have written Noddy as well. So my association with Enid Blyton goes back even further than I had realized!!

The Five Find Outers & Dog by Enid Blyton

My Father gifted me my first book when I was in class 1. In a gesture as simple as that, he had made sure that he had given me a companion for life. If you have youngsters at home, do pick one of her books for them, you could be giving them a gift for life! If not, it’s never too late to read her yourself….she just might bring back the child in you!! ?

Candies In Her Palm – A Short Story #NostalgiaSeries

“They walked in the sweltering heat, the two sisters and Namita, the elder one’s best friend. Backs bent with the weight of the khaki coloured bags..the rectangular ones with two shiny clips that had to go ‘tak’ and ‘tak’ again, so you knew they were properly closed. Feet clumsily covered in battered chappals, dragging on the dusty road. Hair that had been carefully oiled and plaited by their mothers in the morning, complete with the red ribbon on both sides, now stuck to their scalps as sweat trickled down their faces. Little Rano walked ahead with a steadfast determination, her sister’s hand in hers. Pulling her, goading her to walk faster, they were almost there. Sunaina sighed and carried on, she could never refuse her baby sister. They finally reached and Rano looked at her big sister expectantly. Sunaina dug out her treasure from her bag, 20p that she had managed to save that week. She placed a 10p coin into the wrinkly hand of the shopkeeper and received a grunt in approval. Carefully she lowered the big glass jar and held it tight against her chest. With her free hand she twisted the cap open and counted out 10 candies, some red, some green, some orange and some purple. 1,2,3…9,10, placing each one gently into Rano’s cupped palms. Rano’s round face broke into a smile and her eyes gleamed with joy. Sunaina laughed as her sister struggled to wipe the drool off her mouth, her hands full of candies. With Rano satisfied, she went on to buy sweetmeats for Namita and her four other siblings waiting back home. That was the norm, all 6 brothers and sisters would sit down in a circle and Sunaina split the candies among them all. Happiness was to be shared, their mother had told her eldest daughter and Sunaina intended to take that very seriously. Rano skipped ahead, eager to reach home and gobble up her share. Come fast Sunaina, walk fast Sunaina…”

“Sunaina?…Sunaina?” She broke out of her reverie. The doctor was talking to her. “You can see her now”. Sunaina nodded at the others and they headed for the room. The same round face, she thought with a smile. But the eyes glistened with tears of pain now and the smile was forced. She looked at Rano lying on the bed, with its white covers, tubes coming out of the bedsheets, recovering after the 4th surgery that year. The disease was catching up and Sunaina knew in her heart that no candy could make her sister’s eyes gleam now. They all sat down in that hospital room. Sunaina and her 4 siblings, around Rano. All 6 of them. All they knew was to share…candies, tears, stories, fears…all they could do, was share.

//This story is dedicated to my Late Aunt Smt. Suchitra Ray…you are forever in our hearts Ranu Mausi 🙂