Friday, May 15, 2015

Aisha #8

Anu was crying a lot. Her shirt was all soaked with tears. Her vocabulary was still very small and included a lot of gibberish, but she understood others words perfectly. And her uncle, Ramu, Rashi’s brother, whose family resides just a few houses down theirs, tried to tease her a little and now regretted that seeing the little princess crying unstoppably, trying all tactics to console her.

All he said was, “Hey Anu, how about we exchange Arun’s grandmother with Aisha.” Arun his son was just a week elder to Anu. Anu lodged herself firmly in Aisha’s lap, lest they start the exchange process. All the elders laughed for a while at the joke, but then as Anu’s cries didn’t stop and they all took to the task of consoling her. “Your uncle was only joking, my dear gulab-jamun. I’ll take you with me wherever I go. Don’t worry” As all the elders lay huddled around Anu, Arun felt he was not getting enough attention and he started to cry. Anu walked up to Arun who was in his mother’s lap and wiped his tears with her hand consoling him in her gibberish. But Arun seemed to understand as he stopped crying.

Living with her grandparents, since her birth, listening to the travelogues of Aisha and tales of Anand about his time in Airforce — though a tad bit exaggerated —  made her bond with them more than her own parents. Curiously, she called Aisha Amma - mother - but called Anand granddad, maybe that was because his hair was almost white, while Aisha’s still had so much black retained in it.

As always grandparents are a tad more lenient, and Anu was pampered by both sets of relatives, both sets of grandparents and her uncle and aunt.  Anu loved Anand and Aisha dearly, but her bond with Aisha was very special, Aisha was Anu’s hero and fan and she was her biggest support. Every word Anu uttered carried a lot of weight in the house. If Anand didn’t agree at first, Aisha would convince him to look at it from the point of view of Anu. Anu was always cocooned by Aisha, and being wrapped onto Aisha all the times. Everyone who saw them would mistake them for mother and daughter for they looked alike and Aisha looked much younger than her age.

The house was always filled by the gaggle of excited toddlers. Anu always wanted Aisha within her sight, so Arun had to spend most of his time in Aisha’s place, to be able to play with Anu. Since they were almost neighbors, Even Arun’s mother used to spend most of her time in Aisha’s house. Even Ramu would come there after his office and from there he would have to almost drag Arun to their house around dinner time. The few necessary admonishments were often made by her uncle, who used to scold Anu and Arun together for any mistake, whoever might be the culprit, and more often than not Arun shared the blame which he didn’t deserve, for Anu was the mischief-maker.

And one way to discipline Anu, whenever she behaved badly, as Ramu learned, was to threaten her that he would send away Aisha to USA along with Aamir. And if he is really angry at times when Anu was most disobedient, he would pretend to make a call to the USA, to Aamir, and Anu would instantly surrender, saying sorry clutching her ears. Although she would be crying for hours together after that and would make Arun and Aisha stay awake late into night reassuring her that Aisha wouldn’t be sent if she behaved well.


When Anu was about four years Aamir and Rashi came to pay the yearly visit to Anu and they happened to come on the day of Raksha Bandhan and Rashi tied a Rakhi to her brother Ramu, and also brought him, from USA, Moto Razr, a highly coveted flip phone on the market. And he in return gifted a costliest Kanchipuram silk saree.

Witnessing all this, Aisha said to Anu, who as usually was sitting in her lap, “Your father used to cry a lot on this day, sitting with a sad face that he has no one to tie a Rakhi to his wrist. It used to take a lot of treats to get him back to normal mood.”

“My father doesn’t cry, only girls cry,” declared Anu.

Aisha brought few photographs to prove the point, and as she finished showing her those photos, “Hey Anu, where are you going?” shouted Aisha, as Anu got up from her lap and an outside. “Everything is so urgent for this girl, always rushing.”

After sometime Anu came back and approached Aamir, and said “Show your hand daddy.”

“What is it, my little princess?”

“Please show it.”

“Ok, here it is, my darling,” and as he pulled his sleeve back Anu tied a Rakhi to his wrist and said, “You don’t have to cry daddy, you can think of me as your sister.”

All of them stopped with their things and just stared at Anu dumbfounded, at her words and her actions.

“Now Daddy, can you please give me five rupees?” pleaded Anu.

Wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, and taking Anu into his arms, he  kissed her cheek and gave her a thousand rupees.

“But, but the shop-uncle said the Raakhi was only five rupees,” she said looking at Aamir confused.

Everyone unfroze from their surprise and took to laughing. Aisha came to them, pinched the little one’s cheeks and, “here take these five rupees and give it to shop uncle, and keep that money which your father gave, for yourselves,” and added, wiping her own eyes with her saree, “You truly are Anu.” Anand and Aamir nodded their heads in agreement, misty eyed.

“Can I share it with Arun?” asked Anu innocently.

“Yes you can,” replied Aamir.

“Already thinking about Arun a lot? He has begun charming you already young lady,” said Rashi.

“Yes, yes they will make a good couple, they are always bickering and Arun always eating Anu’s chocolates,” reported Aisha and they all took to laughing once again, while Anu looked again perplexed unable to understand why they were all laughing, but on seeing everyone else laughing she too started giggling.


It has proved more difficult than expected to take Anu to the USA with them. She was very reluctant to leave her grandparents behind. Finally they had to lie, that it was a short trip and they would be back soon to make her come without tantrums and cries.

And after finally accepting that she had to stay with her parents, she used to make so many calls to Aisha and Anand, who went back to their own home in Keylong, much to the ire of Rashi as it was not cheap, those long calls to India. Anu called Rashi ‘mom’ in English, she reserved the sweet sounding ‘Amma’, mother in her native tongue, for Aisha. Rashi tried many times to make Anu call Aisha as granny, for the way she called Aisha was visibly sweeter than the way she addressed her, but having realized nothing could make Anu change the way she addressed Aisha, she resigned her attempts.

Anu would tell Aisha in her long calls about the big buildings in the USA, which arrested her attention from the get go. She would say to Aisha, New York is just like the way Keylong is in winter, snowcapped. She talked about every event her in her life, however, insignificant it might seem. She would tell about her friends, her classes, her assignments, and also about boys whom she thought to be good looking. She talked hours about her new bicycle, how her friend, a good looking guy, had taught her to ride it. She didn’t want to learn it at first as she felt she was too big now, having finished her high school, to learn riding a bicycle, but once she learnt it, her bicycle became her best friend.

“So what about Arun?” asked Aisha, suddenly.

“What about Arun??” asked Anu, puzzled.

“Well, you definitely seem to have found a new boyfriend, your bicycle teacher.”

“Amma! Of course not, he’s just a teammate in a project. Besides, I’ve not forgotten Arun. I wish he was here,” blushed Anu, “Also my bicycle teacher guy is a gay, so Arun need not worry. Hey, Amma, when Arun calls you next time, tell him all about my new bicycle except the fact that the one who taught me was a gay. Let's tease him a bit.”

“So naughty. Do call that poor guy, he always asks about you.”

“I know. I like Arun a lot too. But, amma, you don’t understand. It’s good that I’m not calling him now, this yearning to talk makes love sweeter and more intense,” and added, “Why don’t you come here for a while, it’ll make grandpa’s love on you double up,” she winked although it was just a voice call.

“Rascal! Being mischievous huh? You’ve become a big girl talking all big things and giving advice to me. Your grandpa can’t tell apart salt from surf even after tasting. I can’t leave him. Besides, he loves me enough already, and all I need is better winter clothes more than love, in this old age,” saying which Aisha winked too, although she had not known Anu winked at her earlier.

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