Friday, June 12, 2009

TOFFY

When we brought Toffy home she was barely bigger than my hand. My mother put up a big protest , my father was silent ,but my brother and I were ecstatic! She was tiny, being the last puppy of the litter. My friend Renuka insisted that I take the last of her dog’s pups home, as nobody wanted the poor mite . She was tiny, weak and needed a lot more care . Renuka was confident that she would find a warm and affectionate home with us. Knowing ma’s views I was reluctant. One look at the little 3week- old in the shoe box and I was tempted. But when she snuggled her tiny wet nose into my palm and looked up at me with bleary eyes I knew that instant that she belonged to us.

So she came… into our home and our lives. Ma said she will have nothing to do with it and made it very clear that on no account will the puppy enter the kitchen or sleep in our beds. She further added that we, that is ,my brother and I , were to do ALL the looking after . Being guilty of having gone against her wishes in the first place, we both readily agreed.

So began our lives with Toffy . Before going to the university ,I would take care of her food. Babu would take her out in the mornings before going to college. She was so small that we didn’t put her on leash. Babu would carry her in his hand and put her down from time to time so that she could sniff around and relieve herself. Ma would glare at me in silence as I stirred up the cerelac baby food in a bowl. Renuka had instructed me to give her extra nutrition. In the evenings the cerelac would be replaced by a bowl of Horlicks. This was an added expenditure in our tight family budget, especially, since my father had retired from work.

Slowly Toffy gained strength and soon grew into a bouncy little furry ball running around the house . But, she would come to a skidding halt just at the kitchen door! How she sensed ma's disapproval!! She would snuggle into my bed at night and would jump out the instant she heard ma’s footsteps. She would bark and chase the crows in the courtyard and create a ruckus , but would glare at them silently in the afternoons when she knew ma was taking her nap!

Babu and I would be away at college most part of the day and Toffy would follow ma around no matter how much she ignored her. Though ma kept up a fa├žade of indifference but I could tell that her stern resolutions were melting. Toffy had such a sweet and affectionate disposition that no one could resist her. She was the darling of the kids who waited for their respective school buses at our gate every morning.

Gradually ma was totally won over by Toffy and she became ma’s constant companion. Within two years, I got married and left home. The following year Babu left for the US to pursue higher studies. The house was empty now. Ma missed us and found solace in Toffy. A relationship that began with so much disapproval on ma ‘s part ended up in such a close loving bond between them that lasted more than five years. Ma and Toffy were inseparable.

Whenever I would visit home , Toffy would welcome me with joy ,and when my little girl was born she would stand guard over her while she slept, not allowing even the flies to buzz around my baby. Later on ,my daughter would crawl behind her to pull her tail ,even stuff her finger into Toffy’s nose, yet she would never retaliate. Toffy accepted her as her own. But I could see that all her trust and love was for my mother. She probably felt in her canine heart that my brother and I had left her behind and moved on. Sadly ,we were again not there beside her, when she breathed her last in my mother’s lap. Baba said ma was inconsolable!

There was always a misty glint in her eyes whenever ma would talk about Toffy to my children. Now that ma too is gone, I want to believe that Toffy is once more sleeping peacefully at her feet somewhere up there ….and the thought gives me solace.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ADMISSION PHOBIA !!

From the first floor window of my classroom, I watch the frantic parents down in the reception area of our school. It is admission time in the nursery section. Today not only the child must do well in his entrance test but also the parents must impress the interviewing committee. Yes this day is a test for both. !!

So the fathers are all suited-booted trying to put up a relaxed front, but their pacing up and down and the occasional fixing of their ties is giving away their anxious state of mind. The mothers, in their smartest attire , are smiling a little too much, but the worry factor is constantly plaguing them…’will babloo be able to recite A for Apple; B for Ball without a hitch..? Oh! I must revise the nursery rhymes once more….or maybe I should do the numbers 1 to 10 …? The child is unconcerned , playing on the monkey-bars or on the swings as though he is out on a picnic. “Don’t dirty your clothes betaa…” trills out one mother, while another tries her best to hide her impatience as she repeats the tenth time “Good Morning bolo beta. " Today the parents are honey sweet , they dare not annoy the ‘apple of their eye’ and invite a tantrum. That would be disastrous!!

My mind travels fifty two years back in time …I could hear my mother’s complaining voice…”Tuku is 6yrs already ! she should be in school now!” But Baba being in the private sector was forever busy with work and tours. “Next month we will surely look for a school “would be his pacifying reply. But "next month " would come and go ,and I would still be a free bird ,happy in my own world , till one day, ma plucked up all her courage ,took my hand and stepped out of her middle class traditional Bengali home to walk to the nearest school available …Anand Niketan .

It was a small primary school adjacent to the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara , a ten minute walk from my house. The school boasted a strength of probably hundred students . Ma could barely speak English , but undeterred she managed to persuade the Head mistress in her atrocious ‘bong-Hindi ‘ that I should be admitted into class 1 as I was already more than 6yrs old. Thus began my academic life. How simple admission was those days!!

I spent two blissful years in that school. We had classes in the tents and occasionally under the mulberry tree. No study pressure …no security risk! During recess some of us would quietly sneak through the gap in the mehendi hedge and go to the gurdwara for the ‘langar’…the taste of ‘halwa-puri ‘ still lingers…

A voice behind me jolts me back from my reverie. “Ma’am could you please explain this again… “and I turn around to attend to my students.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ek TARA BOLEY TUN TUN...

Amongst the early recollections of my childhood ,one surfaces very prominently …that of the ‘bajeywala’ . I was perhaps 5yrs old. Those days we used to live in one of the government houses on Baba Kharak Singh Marg erstwhile Irwin Road, one of the radials of Connaught Circus. Today ,those houses do not exist . The State Emporia have come up in their place.


Men on foot or on bicycles, selling vegetables , sweets ,toys, even utensils were a common sight then. Mothers could buy things at their very doorstep .How simple and convenient life was !


The bajeywala would come by once a week. I still remember his tall gaunt frame, a colourful ‘bandhni’ turban wrapped around his head, clad in a white dhoti and kurta , coming down our back lane fiddling on a single- stringed musical instrument. ..nothing as sophisticated as the toy synthesizers that kids play with today. It was crudely made with a earthenware pot at one end sporting a foot long bamboo with a wire tightly drawn along its length and wrapped around a small knob…what one would call ‘ek tara’. He would play melodious tunes on it ,the most popular one being a hit song of those days …”Mera man doley mera tan doley..”This was his way of announcing his presence in the neighbourhood . No sooner did the kids hear him they would rush out and flock around him . Being a little shy ,I would watch from a distance while he would regale us with popular movie tunes , in the hope of selling his ‘ek taraas’.


Once, after much persuasion , my mother bought me one . I settled down happily to play it. It was after all very simple . All one I had to do was run the fiddle over the wire…and the music should pour out. But no matter how hard I tried I could not get a single melodious note out of it! Certain that mine was a bad piece ,I insisted on having the one that he was playing. The bajeywala indulgently replaced mine with his and walked away fiddling another popular song on it...’raja ki ayegi baraat ,rangili hogi raat… while I was left making scratchy noises on mine.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Have Confidence In Me

My family tells me I should write. My husband is forever suggesting topics , my daughter feels I have great potential and creates a Blog spot for me , my son believes I have a flair for comic descriptions …Wow!! At the face of such encouragement I am now convinced I CAN write. “I have confidence and confidence in meee” as Julie Andrews sang in Sound of Music! My hands are poised on the keyboard, my eyes are staring expectantly at the computer screen waiting for my thoughts to weave themselves into words ….my brain is whirring with ideas…one topic is chasing another…should I begin my blog by writing about my mother I miss so much ? or should I talk about my father I looked up to ?...No no, I think I should begin by sharing my experiences as a child, a young girl, a wife, a mother , a friend ,a teacher…..hold on guys , my ‘thought processor’ is churning…I have so much to ‘talk’ about. Will be back soon. Cheerio!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My First Post

Following the rest of the family into the cybersphere - willingly, enthusiastically, and with lots of thoughts and ideas to express.