2nd July 2002, Wednesday 8:30 in the evening, the air around is filled with negative thoughts, unsettled souls, exasperation, sweat, hunger, desperation, eerie looks, demonized humans and hate. In …
Trinnnnng……….Trinnnnng……….Trinnnnng………Trinnnnng……….stop that alarm!!! I still have to collect the fallen coins on the road.
Its 6 o’clock in the morning & I could hear the morning birds chirping, rooster crowing. The morning aromas spread in the atmosphere with masala chai, butter toast & boiling milk fill up my senses pushing me out of the bed. Today is 21st September 1983, Wednesday another school day and I am on my own with the school errands. Yes I very well know that Wednesdays are PT days so white shirt with white skirt & white shoes. The Tuesday’s books are to be replaced with Wednesday’s timetable. I get out of the bed, fold my blanket start moving slowly woozily towards the washroom. The fallen coins are still on my mind. Ah! the morning splash on my face always so refreshing. After brushing my teeth I walk towards the kitchen where my Kaki was preparing the morning breakfast. When I look down at the white marble while walking I recollect my dream from yesterday night where I enjoyed collecting the fallen coins on the road. So much I want to go back to the dream & collect them ALL.
I enter the kitchen which is perfectly square shaped located in the South east end of our peaceful 2 BHK flat. The South wall of the kitchen is open with 2 large windows made of wood & glass. The windows open up to the beautiful view of tall coconut trees, aromatic Nilgiri trees and thick green colourful Gulmohar trees. There are loads of pink bougainvillea trees growing all over the building walls. The backside gate of our society lies at this Southern end. The gate is elegantly covered with Ashoka trees making an arc on its top. Yes this was my childhood home Shrishti housing society in Vile Parle East a quiet green suburb of Mumbai than known as Bombay in 1980s. The society walls are covered with trees like Amla, Umbra, Tadgola, Imli, Mango, Raat Rani, Evergreen flowers, Hibiscus, Parijat and many more. There are 2 wings to the building, 1 on the West side is A Wing & other on the East side is the B Wing where we lived on the 2nd floor Flat no. 28, which also happens to be my fathers birthdate J Both the wings are separated with a playground which ends up into a muddy patch which is currently filled with the rain waters. Our evening games revolve around throwing of earthworms on each other & rowing paper boats in the rain water. We have dropped a few large stones in the puddle to facilitate our land & water game. You need to be born before the year 2000 to know the land & water game!!! Or else ask someone who is pre 2000 era kid.
I sit in my favorite place at the kitchen door at the western wall with crossed legs for my breakfast. Those were the days we use to have meals in the kitchen sitting on the floor. The kitchen windows are very heavy and the aluminum stoppers are too weak to hold them during the Mumbai monsoon winds. I have somehow learnt to pull them and shut them during heavy rain shower as the gas stove sits under the windows on the black granite, so does the Matka (earthen vessel storing cool drinking water). The East side of the wall supports the kitchen cabinet and West side wall is empty with the door covering a part of it when kept open. The North side of the kitchen has the door opening & empty wall. On my left after the door opening kneeling at the North wall sat my Bai (grandmother) sipping on her coffee served in stainless steel cup & saucer. She quickly passed on an asana (a thick cotton mat used for sitting on the floor), which I jumped and sat on. My kaki served me my hot milk with lots of Bournvita & toast. I was enjoying my toast dipped in sweet chocolaty milk when I noticed an eerie silence around us. Bai, a tall with medium built middle aged lady was in her fifties with few strands of grey hair since she never applied any hair color ever. She was a family person and was like a clan leader for us. Otherwise a composed person, today Bai seemed to be very upset with glistening eyes. My kaki informed me that I have become an elder sister of a baby girl. We were interrupted by Jhanvi my elder sister who was leaving for her school. She went to a different girl’s convent school that started at 6:30 am. Her bus was waiting & before leaving we exchanged wishes on our baby sister’s arrival. Oh wow!! I have a baby sister. However now I was the only one there feeling happy & excited about the new addition in our family. My mother was taken to the hospital yesterday evening for the delivery. The baby was the third girl being born in an orthodox marwadi brahmin family, completely unaware about her welcome status. Actually none of us know what feelings we are being welcomed with on our arrival on this planet Earth. Clearly Bai was upset & dejected with the third baby girl brought into this world by my mother. She said one more girl with choked throat. As an 8 year old girl living in a somewhat free society, I always thought myself being much better than the boys in my school, society, cousins around me. I nurtured a superiority complex about myself. In no way was I incompetent to any of the boys around me. I was starting to have a feeling of hatred for Bai. How can she be upset, she is a lady herself? Did she also cry when I arrived in the family?? She despises me too, yes I know she is always biased to Raju my notorious, jealous cousin, the so called kul deepak (light) of our family. He is the first male child born to my kaka & kaki. Raju is the apple of my bai’s eyes. They just cannot ever get enough of him even if he calls them names on their faces. He is a medium body, shorter than me though he is just 3 months younger to me. He is dark brown in color & Bai attributes the color to his being born in his mother’s village in Rajasthan. He always shocks people with his hideous behavior. He is jealous of me and all the other kids all the time. He steals away my toys, scribbles in my school books, breaks all my card houses, treats Monika (my darling doll) badly, troubles her all the time, lags behind me in studies hence he is always kept in the B division. I was born as a second child after Jhanvi who is 1 and a half years elder to me. Jhanvi is everybody’s darling, she does not really understand people’s internal motives behind being good to her. She can easily get swayed by sweet talks and outer behavior of others. She gets all the love being the first child in the family. I am the most unwanted & yes that’s the truth, but I know I am the smartest with the strongest will power. I will make it better than any of them.
I walk towards the washroom thinking about my baby sister, as the hot water showers down on me warm tears filled in my eyes flow down slowly. Is it so sad to be a girl child?? Am I being wrong when I feel happy about having a baby sister??
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