A pair of makeshift sliding doors made out of MDF sit on the groove of the little cube like cupboard that houses her precious belongings. But behind the sliding doors, a very cherished bottle of nail enamel - half used, thick and slimy form all the use, sits almost like an idol meant for worship. The eleven year old's awe for painting nails makes this her most prized thing for a good year to come, till the remnants of the bottle get thinned with acetone again and again and again, and till the last drop of the varnish gets used on her tiny nail buds. "Waco" reads the name on the bottle holding the pinkish mauve nail color sprinkled with generous flecks of gold. "Waco"! - she wonders what it is supposed to mean! The sliding doors open and close numerous times in a day, Just one bottle of nail paint precedes all happy pills and potions.
Candy usually means the hard candy - the hard boiled, dyed sugar marbles wrapped in cellophane paper and twisted and tied on either end. Sometimes she'd get to eat a whole one and at other times, she'd share them with her siblings - carefully wrapping the candy in a handkerchief and biting it over the kerchief so as to prevent contamination. When her dad's friend gets them a whole box of cocoa chocolates - it naturally becomes the treasure she'd waited to cherish all her life. '5 star" the golden wrapper reads - and the Advertisement she's watched all her growing years plays back in her mind reminding her of the caramel and the milk chocolate sleeve on the top. She gets to take one full bar to school - and all she does the whole day would be looking at the wrapper and thinking twice to open the bar. At long last she'd carefully cut open the chocolate, nibble on it, taking the tiniest possible bites and once the chocolate is enjoyed, she'd flatten the wrapper flat and tuck it in between the pages of her heaviest text book, much like a trophy of good times. The lucky girl lived in the times of moderation.
The kids flock around her humongous luggage. The festive season of Diwali shines through the high rise's numerous windows in the form of tiny electric lamps stung into breathtaking garlands. The gifts keep pouring in - Silverware, fine chocolates, dry fruits, hand poured candles and idols of Indian Gods and Goddesses. They are religiously opened and admired, and then the hoards of chocolates end up in plastic boxes, neatly stacked in the refrigerator. Most of them get distributed to maids and guests, but somehow, they seem to magically multiply. The three little girls that flock around her luggage seem oblivious to all that finery of snacks. She thoughtfully opens her luggage and takes out the gifts. "The Diary of a wimpy kid" comes out and the oldest of the girls lets out a shriek. Then the dolls, the dresses and more fine chocolates. The shrieks fade, the gifts fade too...losing their allure in no time - till the maid comes around, collects them and tucks them away in the cupboards busting at seams with all kinds of toys, crafts and art supplies. She gazes through the abundance, remembering "Waco" and "5 star" - and feels blessed to have belonged to a time of moderation and cherishing.
There must be a reason why women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and ages list shopping as a favorite pastime, and she is not exempt from the demograph. When she spots the hoarding announcing the "All India arts and crafts Exhibition" she silently sketches a plan to visit and convinces her sister to follow suit. The ladies drag their back sides and bags stacked with green paper, being the self proclaimed Art connoisseurs they are. The exhibition oozes promise. Hand carved wooden figures, painstakingly detailed art work on palm leaves, richly embroidered saris showcasing the dexterity of artists that never see the light of glory for their talent, hand knit bead spreads that take months to complete and still cost only as much as a couple of meals in a moderately upbeat eatery, toys made out of paper maiche, paintings of gods and goddesses, almost in a life like form, detailed by hands of mortals that struggle to fill their bellies - the whole display looks like an irony - the sad tales of artisans that are masked by the enormity and beauty of their craftsmanship. The sisters pick a thing here and a thing there - stopping at the kulfi stand to get a quick refreshment after a long shopping trip. She picks a matka - filled with kulfi and sealed on top with a bandhni printed fabri, tied together with a golden lace. Just as they step out and get ready to cross the road and head to the car - tiny little hands grab her dress and pull them downward yelling at her to give them the kulfi. "give me" give me" the shrill voice shouts and she lifts her hands up in air in reflux - confused as to what is happening. She looks at the child, perhaps a three year old boy, dresses in shorts and shirt a couple of sizes too big for his frame and sporting a dirty pile of hair pulled back into a pony tail. She realizes what he is asking for, and hands him the kulfi. The boy lumbers away with glee as a couple of little kids chase him for their share. An onlooker form an auto rickshaw looks at her and smiles - She returns it back and looks in the direction of the kid - "cute guy" she says aloud. "It's a girl" her sister adds.
She looks back thoughtfully - and feels blessed to have existed in a time of moderation - that perfect spot in between having too much and having too little;-)
And one more to go ....
The couple defines 'good looking' to a tee - tall and slender guy with a grin so bright, you'd think he had won the lottery and a petite, dainty lady to his side with dirty blond hair that is pulled back into a neat ponytail. The bonny little girl changed hands between her mom and dad like a victory trophy while they held her closed to their hearts and smothered her with hugs and kisses. The little girl, looking like a baby GAP model, flashed her toothless gums and traveled so well across the proverbial seven oceans. she made gurgling sounds and instantly rewarded onlookers and admirers with a smile that would drive all the stuffiness of flying in a humongous trap of an aircraft miles up the sea level. I passed by them every time I hauled my own little bundle to the loo. The baby sat there on her dad's lap with her eternal smile. We got down our flight, the couple waited ahead of us to get into the limo service to go back home - probably in a divine ploy to have their stork deliver the little one on the eve of Christmas - the most magical day of the year! My eyes met with the dad's and I couldn't resist paying my genuine compliment to the baby GAP model - "she'll walk on the ramp one day" - the dad smiled his brightest, and thanked me, reflecting the same genuineness. They got into the limo as the driver held an open door to the little lady and her daddy.
I know how it is to deliver a child - they say kids that are not delivered the biological way are delivered straight out of the parents' heart....Actually, I shouldn't say they say it, since I saw it first hand as this ebony cherub with thick knotty hair and the cutest face ever paced back and forth in her parents arms - marking the stark difference in their epidermis and displaying the invisible cord of love that bound her to their hearts - a cord so strong that it dragged them all the way from Livermore, CA, USA to some unknown, unnamed village in Ethiopia, Africa where some unfortunate mom and dad renounced a lucky little soul to enjoy the bliss of being born in some blessed parents' heart on the other side of the globe.
One child at a time - God give them all loads of love! Amen!