Chapter 1: She
She was at her granddaughter’s house for a vacation. She absolutely adored her son, his wife and her beloved granddaughter whom she called… “ Majhya Doodhavarli saai..” Meaning cream of the milk.
Her granddaughter wouldn’t react to it except for a smile. What went in her head nobody can guess. These Millennials seem so confused and sharp or shallow or empathetic at the same time. These creatures … Woah Woah… I am ranting on my own forgot that you guys are here for a story and that to a good one.
So here it is.
Her name was Nanda. A name that she would proudly tell, she chose for herself. Unlike all others who have been named by either their parents or some elderly person. She was now approaching her 70s but in her head, she was evergreen and so-called her friends. Friends that were few but dear ones that stood the test of time.
Well, Nanda was now retired and had all her vacations planned. For once she wanted to spend her own hard-earned money on herself. But in doing so she was still not lavish… still a little pulled back, still a little guilty. She had always told her son that she had a magical life and all that happened to her was pure divine intervention. At the same time, she is very satisfied, happy and at times proud even that she always did the right thing. Given a chance to relive her life she was confident she would not change a thing. It was beautiful… her confidence, her grace and her faith in almighty most enviable. Above all, her positivity would light up a dull room and was so contagious no amount of sorrow would stand it. Words like jealousy, depression, self-doubt didn’t even touch her.
So this time she decides to visit her son who lived in Australia. He lived near the gold coast area with his wife and a teenage daughter. The day she arrived in Australia went by quickly in all the welcomes and showing around the house and some sleep of course cause she was jet-lagged.
Oops… I didn’t mention where she was from well she belonged to many places and hearts. You will get to know soon.
The next day was a Friday, her son and his wife had to go to the office, post which was the weekend. That weekend was planned to stay with family and the next week to see Australia. So post her breakfast and unpacking on Friday, she called to her granddaughter Ananya. Ananya was a teenager and a millennial. You remember my rant, correct? So that’s how Ananya could be best described. Nanda asked her can we go for a walk, need to explore the neighbourhood a little bit or maybe you can show me your favourite hang out. To which Ananya, looked up from her phone, smiled and agreed.
Chapter 2: Her and the Milennials
Ananya took her to the nearby beach… They walked side by side without a word for a long time. Nanda said.. do you know Anudi, when people walk together for a while their foot movements synchronize.. look… she said, glancing at their footsteps imprinted together in the soil.
Ananya stopped and said not necessary .. and did some futile effort to walk offbeat. They both smiled at each other and then burst into laughter. Anaya said… Ajji I am loving this time with you, even though I still can’t figure out what to say and when like you. To which Nanda laughed and said if you think so much you would hardly speak and that won’t help anyone. I am your Ajji and you are my Anudi… This relationship is simple. At any time I won’t judge you, you don’t have to filter your thoughts before speaking to you. Tu Majhi Doodha varli saaai ahes… Always special Always beautiful and sweet.
Ananya said How do you manage to do it every time, speak so beautifully and at the same time use just the right words. Anudi did you forget I was a teacher once upon a time… Ajji grinned… Besides this isn’t my salt and pepper look (Nanda said running her fingers through her hair that was now dampened by the salty breeze).. its sun and rain look…(Nanda was from Mumbai, India. Here Rain is a season and just not anytime arriving showers and hence the expression).
They both burst into laughter.
Ananya then took Ajji to a local Cafe and made her taste some of her favourite delicacies. When they returned home Ananya was all smiles and was looking forward to her weekend with Ajji. That night she went to Ajjis room and asked for a bedtime story like she was that little girl again. After a long time, they both had this time together all to themselves.
So like always Ajji started… Once Upon a Time, In a village. Ananya Interrupted and said Ajji I want a real story. You always say your entire life is magic. Will you please tell me your magical journey?
And so begins the story of Her Magical Journey.
Ajji smiled and Began, once upon a very long time ago, In a tiny village on the banks of the river, Krishna stayed our family of 10. Me, my mom and dad, three sisters and four brothers. We were a big Indian family. In those days It was pretty normal as we had space and time for each other. Ours was an 8 room house built in black stone and the floors were fresh swept with the slurry of cow dung.
I still remember that amazing smell and that cosy atmosphere. Each wall had a beautiful dome-shaped space to light the lamp. Each room was interconnected. Outside the house was a big veranda and ahead of that was an Angan (big open space ahead of the house). Behind the house was our farm or agricultural land.
Back then houses didn’t have fences or gates. Anyone who wishes to stop by and speak would call out from Angan and sit in the veranda and enjoy the conversations with my dad. He loved few things very dearly, one was his supari or betelnut, me and abhanga (age-old poems composed by sages in the praise of God). I was the youngest child and was an absolute daddy’s girl. I would listen to him, play tabla and sing abhanga. Mesmerised I was, how he could remember so many of them? He wasn’t a literate so there was no book or notebook to read from yet his speech was so clear and crisp.
You asked me na… How do I know what and when to speak I think I have that in me because of him. He was wonderful orator, a dynamic personality and at the same time a very humble and kind-hearted person. Every now and then early in the morning Vasudev ( A person dressed in white with a jhola on his shoulder for bhiksha, a tall cap made up of peacock feathers and chipli (small two set instrument, held in hand ) in the hand to make music for the words that he sang) would come to our angan with his beautiful rhymes.
It was like our wake up alarm those days. I would get up and sleep in the veranda with my head in my dad’s lap. He would gently tap my head on the beat of Vasudev’s songs. It was such a beautiful experience. We were not very rich but no one that entered our angan left with an empty stomach. My dad was very giving… but not so my mother.
She was a typical lady that went on with her work all day cursing me and my dad for sending me to school and educating me. She believed that no matter how hard I study, one day I was to marry and go to someone else’s house and do all that she is doing now. Nothing would change and she was right for every sister of mine but my dad was stubborn. He always thought I was a very bright child and I need education.
Back then education didn’t come easy to me. My mother did all in her capacities to refrain me from getting the education. After school, I wanted to go to college. College was not in my village. Going to college means walking 2 hours to the college and 2 hours back home. Of course, you could take the government bus, the pass of which would be 50 paise a month. But my mom won’t spare me even that. It was my dad and my brothers who saw to it I get my monthly bus pass and at times I would walk to and fro to the college for months together. On festivals, my siblings would ask for new clothes and delicacies while all wanted was notebooks and pens.
Soon I completed my degree and wanted to pursue masters. I was the only girl in the village with a college graduation. Also, the unmarried. So I had a proud dad and worried whinny mother. My mother would continuously tell this to my dad that people are rejecting marriage proposals because their sons are not as qualified as your daughter. Please stop this education thing or else she will stay alone all her life. My brothers helped me through this stage and I found myself sitting in the Masters class.
Yes, I got married to your Ajoba at the age of 28. It was way too late for a girl to get married and my mom was finally happy. There is one more story of how I met your Ajoba.. (Nanda Laughs) but for now, sleep we have two more days to ourselves.
Good night Anudi …
Well, yet another masterpiece. Keep watching this space for more such exciting stories.