The wedding date was set a year in advance and Buzz started making plans right then and there. For a child her age, a year is a long time coming which meant I kept telling her it would be a while. She waited and waited very patently at that but come September every day seemed never to pass. Anyone she met, it was all about the trip to India. Everyone in her school (students, teachers, parents, director of the school – everyone) knew the date we were leaving, the food she planned to eat, the clothes she hoped to wear.
“I can’t watch TV, right Mumma?” she looked at me with sad eyes as we sat down in our seats. I smiled and told her we would talk once the plane took off. So sure she was of the no TV rule that she kept saying “you will say no.” Seatbelts on, no kicking the seat in front, please don’t jump around, count to 100, listen to what the pilot is saying – I said it all to keep the two little bundles of energy in their place till we took off and then much to their delight I switched on the little TV screens in front of their seats. As I navigated, “Dora!” they screamed. Dora it was. Just before the show started, she looked at me with bright eyes and thanked me. I told her, we would take breaks, read a little, draw a little, sleep a little but she could watch shows and movies and those decisions were hers for the duration of the trip. —Delight at getting the freedom to pick her own screen time, never happened before!
“How will we go home? Do you know the way, Mumma?” she asked with concern. “Tau ji will come get us baby,” I told her. She was so uncertain, some faded memories, voices on the phone, hazy images over Skype. Would he really come? Would she like it if he came? But there he was and so was SP Didi. They opened their arms wide and she ran right in to them. The trip home was spent talking a mile a minute and endless kisses for SP Didi. Once home she walked in, looked around and remembered. With a smile, off she was to the room that was ours. Her excitement at familiar faces, familiar surroundings had us all in splits. —Joy of being engulfed in love, joy of being surrounded with family!
“We are going to see Nana,” “We love Nana,” “AK Mama is coming to get us, Yay!” “He calls me Makhhi, why?” “I can’t wait to ride the train!” Little voices kept repeating in a loop, till we got to railway station and they spotted AK Mama. She jumped in to Mama’s arms the minute the door of the car opened. Bugz, of course, had to copy which meant poor Mama had his hands full with two mini hurricanes. A week before we had left, he had send a message to me asking what I was getting for him. I had replied “2 jantu!” “You were not kidding,” he laughed at me, with the two of them hanging off of him. As we took our seats in the train, he got out two candies from his backpack and handed one to her. She looked at me, at my nod, took it, give him a hug, sat on his lap as she ate on. —Getting spoilt and how!
I was in the kitchen, trying to figure out what to make for breakfast when Mami ji rushed in. “Buzz kept looking at me as if she wanted to say something. I asked her what she wanted but she kept quite. I asked again and she very softly said ‘Parantha, paneer paranth.’ So move out of the kitchen, I have some paranthas to make.” Saying I would make them made no difference. “She asked Choti Nani so Choti Nani will make,” came the response. Mama ji who was forever busy on the phone making last minute arrangements for the wedding kept saying no when we asked him to make halwa for us. “Please Chote Nana,” she said softly. Chote Nana dropped everything was standing in the kitchen less than a minute later. “Nana, will you wake me up when you get up in the morning so that I can play with you?” and there he was every morning picking her up and playing with her. “Can we go to the park?” they would ask and there were at least 4 people ready to take them. —Everyone dancing to every demand big or small!
Shopping for wedding clothes was the hardest thing SIL and I did. The sheer amount of bling that was in the stores almost blinded us. The shift in fashion and how different it was from what we were looking for – for the kids, for ourselves made us despair. The idea of going shop to shop with four kids in tow had us worried but the kids figured out a game in no time. All the bling on the sarees, suits, lehngas are glued on and not stitched on which meant they fell off really easy and there was loads on the floor. ‘Jewels’ they called them and started collecting them. Four kids, 15 to 30 mins in a store meant the store floors were wiped clean by the time we left. —Games they come up with!
“Nana, I want a beautiful dress for the wedding, just like that dholi taro song. Will you ask Mumma to buy something like that for me?” Nana promised that she would have something similar, which meant everything we bought for them had to be approved by Nana. Added to it was the fact that there was nothing I was liking. Which meant I gave up and decided I would rather she wore cotton than the bling and took her to Fab India. She wanted a lehnga and there were a couple in her size. She liked one, I liked it too, paid and bought. All excited I came home but the lehnga failed Choti Nani’s and Nana’s sniff test. Too simple for a wedding, it was deemed. “I can’t find anything else,” I wailed. Paa made a few calls and figured out that there was one store that might have something for the kids. Not exactly to my taste but much better than anything else we had seem so under all the eyes watching me I said yes. She loved it. It twirled and swirled, what was not to love. —Gold and blue lehnga!
“Mehndi mehndi,” she had been dreaming for a year. “Can you draw a design on my hand?” ever so often she would come holding a pen. The day of mehndi came and she was giddy. We had a lot of little things to take care so we left early morning with the promise to come back in time for the mehndi in the evening. Between blouse fittings, bangle shopping, shoe shopping for the kids, shirt for AK Mama, jutti for PD Mama aka the groom, the day got away from us. As we were about to head back home, two evenings to the wedding, PD Mama remembered he had to get a pagdi and the kalgi that goes with it. What? Everything came to halt. We ran like crazy to find the shops. It was already dark and she knew the mehndi people were already home. Her little heart broke, convinced that they would leave before we got home. Promises and assurances made no difference. Even bribe of an ice-cream worked only for 10 or so minutes. Longest hour and half for her, for sure. We came home and she ran in crying, “Choti Nani did they leave?” and halted as she saw all the people singing and the mehndi wala sitting there. A quick change of clothes and she sat as she waited for her turn, all while other kids ran and played. Me telling her that I would call her when it was her turn made no difference. —The only child who did not wash her hands before going to bed that night!
“Papa is not going to come. I am sure he is not going to come.” Everyone was home, someone came by every hour but Papa was not there. It was the day of the sangeet, it was time for the late nap, after which we would get dressed and leave for sangeet and Papa was not there. “Papa will be here when you get up from your nap,” was met with “Are you sure? For real?” Well guess who woke her from her nap? And guess what she did when she saw his face? Held on tight and did not let go. Dressed in her Fab India lehnga and the bindi and chuddi that she had asked for but had thought I had forgotten, she bounced off the walls till the rest of us got dressed. Beautiful dress, music, dancing, food, ice-cream, Papa. —Life is good!
“Can we get dressed for the wedding?” “Why is it in the evening?” “Why can’t we dress up early?” “Why do we need to take a nap?” and we finally got dressed in the evening. The mehndi was perfect, the bangles jingled, the bindi matched, the lehnga twirled. As we got nearer to the wedding venue there was a horse drawn cart and all the kids got to sit in it to give PD Mama company. There was something called the band, there was dancing, there was a long wait to get inside the venue as Mama’s friends danced, there was candy cane, there was kulfi, and then the little bundle came to a halt .. there came SK Mami and she was beautiful. Pause and gape. OK there was paneer, there was ice-cream. Eat, dance, get pictures clicked and she fell asleep before the pheras started. But woke up in time to welcome Mami home. —Little dreams she dreamt of for a year, they all came true in one short trip!