Anya was not in the least bit sleepy or tired, well maybe a teeny bit but she didn’t want to waste her precious time at RM sleeping. Mami dropped in to do her duty and offered to take Anya to her room, but Anya refused; relieved Mamiji sashayed off to indulge in some beauty sleep, “Naahi toh dark circleswa howi and then how will Aakash ke papa recognize his darlings beeutifool wifewa? Hello hi bye bye.”
Anya looked after her with a puzzled expression, “Badi Nani, why does Badi Mami always say ‘Hello hi bye bye’! What does it mean?”
Naniji shook her head, “Who knows bitiya what she means?”
Anya marveled some more at Badi Mami and said wonderingly, “Badi Nani, isn’t it strange, I can understand what you say but I can never make out what Badi Mami is saying.” Then worried, “Badi Nani, can you understand what I am saying?”
Badi Nani smiled and caressed her cheek, “Haan bitiya I can understand English perfectly well,” she giggled a bit coyly and said, “Your Bade Nanaji was a bit of an angrez, just like your CSR, and he insisted I learn English, though I don’t feel comfortable speaking it; but if you don’t understand something I say, you can always ask me and I will translate for you.”
“Bade Nanaji!” Anya was immediately interested, “Oh could I see his pictures, is he the one with whom you had your babies? And who all are your babies? Do you have pictures of mamma and CSR when they were children?”
Nani took Anya’s barrage of questions in her stride, though she was a bit taken aback with the ‘with whom you had your babies’ comment and dug out her precious album of memories.
Anya and Nani spent a couple of enjoyable hours during the trip down memory lane; Anya kept up a constant flow of questions and Nani answered them as best as she could; while Anya carefully stored away her impressions to be unleashed on to the general public after due consideration and churning.
Anya was thrilled to see her mamma taking part in athletics and even gymnastics; there were several photographs of her being awarded medals. Nani proudly informed her, “Naahi bitiya woh Anjali bitiya naahi, hum hain!”
Anya’s eyes were round as saucers, “Badi Nani you? Wow you look exactly like Mamma and so smart too!”
Nani blushed and giggled like a school girl.
There was picture of a drenched Anjali standing by a fountain surrounded by a couple of elders while a 4-5 year old boy stood sulkily at one side his ear in the hands of Badi Nani. Anya was extremely interested in this one, “What happened Badi Nani? And who are these people?
Nani laughed and said, “Oh that Chotte was very naughty as a child, he was very fond of his Di but nonetheless very jealous too. We had come over to congratulate Anjali bitiya as she had come first in class and your Bade Nanaji and I had gifted her with a big doll and a doll house for doing so well. Your CSR didn’t like all the attention being showered on his Di and chased her to the garden and then pushed her into the fountain! We had to rush and pull out a very wet Anjali; those are their parents, my daughter and her husband that is your Nani and Nanaji. Bade Nanaji clicked the picture while I was scolding Chotte.” She shook her head as the memories came rushing in, “Chotte was so angry with me, not because of the pain, but because he felt insulted, he didn’t speak to me for a week!”
Anya surveyed the photograph with interest, “Didn’t mamma fight with CSR? She must have been so angry with him? I hope he didn’t break her doll set?”
Nani shook her head, “Actually I think Chotte wanted to destroy the doll set but Anjali bititya put it away out of reach, and he got very angry at being thwarted so he chased her and then pushed her into the fountain,” Nani sighed, “CSR has always been short tempered, though he is almost always sorry afterwards. And Anjali bitiya was the one who saved him from a thrashing that day, she always did that, she always shielded him; she said they were playing and she tripped and fell into the fountain; I was forced to let him go with just a warning.”
“Awww mamma is such a softie, right Badi Nani?” Anya smiled.
Nani smiled and nodded her head, “Especially where her Chotte is concerned and now you too Anya bitiya.”
Anya preened, “Yes after all we are her babies right Nani?!”
Nani smiled and nodded.
Anya debated telling Badi Nani the ‘secret’, she loved Badi Nani too, and Badi Nani would be so happy! Oh why did I not ask permission to tell her as well, she dearly regretted her shortsightedness.
“Badi Nani, where are Nani and Nanaji?” Anya looked at the album.
Badi was silent and said, “There was an ‘accident’ and they both passed away some time ago.”
Anya was sad and hugged Nani, “Just like my first mamma, she too passed away in an accident.”
She quickly turned the page, to find a rare picture of a little CSR laughing and hanging on to an older lady from behind, “Who is this Badi Nani?” (Side Note: Dadi track is absent in SS)
“Oh that’s his Dadi, his paternal grandmother, Chotte was her pet and he too was crazy about her.” Nani smiled fondly at the pretty picture.
Anya smiled at the cute picture, “Where is his Dadi now?”
Nani sighed, “After the accident, she was very disturbed about the loss of her son, so she moved to the Ashram.”
Anya nodded her head wisely as the pieces fell into place, “Oh now I get it, after the accident, CSR became very angry and quiet, because he lost not only his mamma and daddy but also his granny.” Anya paused a while as if thinking, “I too used to miss my first mamma very much, even though I don’t remember her much, especially when I saw other people’s mammas but now that I have my new mamma, I don’t miss her at all,” confessed Anya.
Nani caressed Anya’s hair and sadly nodded her head, “Yes, that is good bitiya, in life one has to move on, but Chotte, he took the loss very badly. But you have to remember, that he was much older and could remember his mamma and dadi. That makes it more difficult to accept and move on.”
“But Badi Nani, you too lost your daughter didn’t you,” Anya’s clarity and understanding astounded Nani. She found her more mature than many adults she had met.
She smiled and again caressed Anya, “Haan bitiya, but then I was much older and I didn’t have a choice, I had a family that was falling apart and they needed me like never before, their Dadi had left town and we had no money, the children were in agony, I had no time to mourn,” She heaved a huge sigh.
“Daddy says we should always count our blessings, he said I was his blessing and he was mine. CSR should have counted his blessings; he had his Di and his other granny too!” Anya was clearly critical of Chotte’s shoddy way of dealing with life’s crises.
Nani sadly nodded her head, “Yes bitiya, what your daddy says is true, but things were not so simple, there were other problems as well and people are different. Maybe when you are older you will understand. Sometimes counting ones blessings are not enough when the pain and the agony is incapacitating and too many things happen at the same time,” Nani came back to the present with a start, and shook her head, “Never mind dear, it’s too complicated for you little one,” she cautioned.
Anya was not ready to leave the topic, “No tell me, I am a big girl, I will soon be 7 years of age.
Nani laughed, “Ok, I will tell you a little story, something that may help you understand little bit of what I am trying to say.”
Click here for Chapter 74