So, I had this really crappy knack of skipping mails I didn’t like. Those that seemed unfamiliar, strange or out of the world were instantly sent to the trashcan with a single click. The habit persisted. Well, till the day Kanu called me for ITR.
Kanu and I had studied from the same college. Since we had started working, we barely got time to talk to each other. We were not exactly bosom friends, but we were on good talking terms. However, with the hectic schedule, different projects, separate teams and diverse managers to report to, our first year of work life was a tough rope to tread. We met up occasionally on lunches and went for brief walks but the free spirit in us had been clamped to some extent.
“Do we have to mail it as well after filing it?”
Kanu asked, calling me on my office number.
I was sorely tempted to ignore her question and tell her I had no idea. But then something stopped me. I didn’t want to sound like a complete daft. After all, what is it that Kanu knows and I don’t?
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“IT returns…form 16…income tax…what else!”
The words buzzed about in my head for a while. A frisson of panic started creeping up. Why hadn’t I known this before?
Before I could say another word, she continued, “See the mails sent on 27th of last month. And the ones before that, where they ask you to file your income tax returns.”
Oops. Where were those mails? Gosh! I hadn’t sent them all to the bin, had I?
I couldn’t have been more stupid!
“But they came under a heading that seemed pretty much like those health care mails sent by the company!” I protested feebly.
“Either ways, you should always check the content before deleting anything.”
Her voice was reprimanding but her words were too true to be refuted.
Somehow the arduous task of going through the mails seemed gargantuan to me. Nonetheless, now it had to be done and now I had no mails to read since I had deleted them already.
“Just send me the mail, will you?”
“Right away. Fill it today. It’s the last date.”
“And what if we don’t?”
“They ask you for it during your visa application process. It is also required in loans and the like…It’s important, bro.”
That must have been the final nail. I was suddenly in a flutter. The returns were supposed to be filed by EOD. Throwing caution to the winds, I abandoned what I was doing at that point and went into overdrive. I quickly sifted through my ‘trash folder’.
My form 16 stared back at me.
“Really simple. Just fill in the details now.” The guy in the next cubicle advised me.
Well, I am not the best form filler on earth. In fact, I am quite the lazy type. And the congestion on the site made it worse.
“What do I do? The site takes ages to load!”
“Well, you shouldn’t have waited till the last day.” My colleague shrugged and went away.
I had started sweating now. The site stayed stubborn, unloadable.
And then, I found it. H&R Block. Cropped up in a hasty Google search. It said you could simply upload your form 16 and get the whole thing done and over with.
I swallowed in relief.
I had managed things at the last moment, thanks to H&R Block. My ITR blooper just fell short of becoming a full-blown one. That day, I pledged to file ITR on time. And well, H&R is always ‘handy and ready’ to help!
Manu could not help but see her. Nandita’s face was turned towards the class window, sunlight lighting up her brown hair giving it a golden sheen. He thought she looked beautiful. Since the day he had seen her at the debate, he had fallen for her hook, line and sinker. Soon, however, he realized she was already taken. As most girls are. A boulder-like something had descended to the place where his heart seemed to be.
He took his favorite second last bench in class and dumped his bag on the seat. There was about half an hour till the first class of the day. Manu flicked through the timetable. Math. Phew! Since he had landed in standard 9, he had barely seen any other subject save Math in the first period. Well, so be it…life was only going to get harder…
A muffled sob caught his attention. He looked towards Nandita, who had hurriedly got up, her face red as a beetroot and stumbled towards the door. Dismayed, he realized that she was crying.
“Hey…what-” Manu reached her before he could stop himself.
Nandita looked at him as if he had just read her personal diary. By the looks of it, he had. Her face was a diary of sorts.
“What happened? You all right?” Manu had never had truck with girls before, much less sobbing teenagers. And the stricken look on her red face (if it could get any redder) made him feel awfully sheepish.
“Here, take this.” He said, not knowing what else to say and offered her his handkerchief.
In the very next moment, he regretted it. Not because she refused or ran away- Manu later wished she had-but because he realized an instant too late that it was his white handkerchief, which was no longer white, but had motley patches of yellow, red and blue.
He hoped fervently that she would not see it while wiping her eyes, but that was wishful thinking. He wondered if he should take it back. But that would be bad manners, right? Defeated, he just stood there, hoping for the earth to swallow him as her tears splotched his already stained hanky.
“You have a funny hanky, you know,” she said in a thick just-cried voice. “So insanely large-” Yes, men’s hankies were always large. Hadn’t she ever seen her boyfriend’s hanky? By the by, where was her boyfriend? “-and so patched!”
Manu shifted uneasily, wondering what to say. But then, she giggled. He looked up uncertainly.
“Why is it so spotted and with such varied colors? Did you spill paint all over it?” She giggled all over again. Although it relieved him to hear her back to her usual self, but he was at his wits’ end.
“Umm…actually you see…umm…I washed it with all those colored clothes and umm…some of them might have thrown away their color. One of my white shirts got spoiled as well.” He blabbered apologetically.
Instead of laughing as he had expected her to, Nandita stared at Manu for some length of time, making him uncomfortable.
“I like colored kerchiefs, you know,” she said suddenly and giggled.
Ten years later at a get-together:
“Nanditaaa!” Maria squealed and gestured to her husband. “Rakesh come! Meet Nandita and Manu! Remember I told you about their story?”
Rakesh scratched his head for a moment. “The…err…”
“The white hanky story! I told you last night!”
“Oh yeah! I remember! Manu, pleased to meet you! Nandita can’t stop raving about you and how cute you guys are!”
“Pleasure is all mine!” Manu said with a smile.
He still couldn’t believe how on that fateful day when Nandita’s ex-boyfriend had left her broken and in need of a friend, he had found her. And soon, they had matured into lovers and all for what? The white kerchief, no less! He still thanked his father for teaching him since the day he entered adolescence,
A real man shares the load.
And lad, you must learn to do your own chores. Household work is a collective responsibility. And remember, no work is exclusively men’s or women’s work.”
The work had come to him easy enough. He had always seen his father doing the laundry, while mother hung up the clothes. Nandita though had found it new and surprising since her family had well-defined gender roles. Soon, the two kids fell for each other. And their love story came to be known among their friends as ‘The Story of the White Kerchief.’
Every so often, we come across events and happenings. Something or the other is always up in Delhi. Meets and fests, weddings and parties, lunches and launches…
Here is a brief account of something that needs to be ‘spotlight’ed. Yes, it is a book launch. Readomaniahas come up with this innovative novel set to grab eyeballs. Every day, we see, hear and read mediapersons on TV, internet and in print. But not every day do we hear the story of a journo. On 17 June, 2016, you will hear one at the launch of :
That’s News to Me!
by Manjula Lal
Dogs can be trained to fetch newspapers for their masters. Should a journalist be treated as a retriever of news by his masters? Told with verve and wit, this is the story of Manush, a talented, independent-minded journalist who tries to stick to the core values of his profession while keeping body and soul together. Out in the field, he enjoys the adrenaline rush of getting scoops and the challenge of solving real-life mysteries. Back in the office, he has to tackle toxic bosses who don’t give a toss about talent and are insecure about their own jobs. And at home, there is emotional distress from a marriage only in name. As the action shifts from a magazine in Noida to a newspaper in Delhi to a website in Gurgaon, the world around Manush changes while he continues his dogged pursuit of career goals and fascinating women. Will forces out of his control make him go into a free fall? Will friends and family give him the respect he deserves? Or will he realise redemption lies elsewhere?
About the Author
Manjula Lal currently works as Deputy Editor with Tehelka. In a career spanning 30 years, she has worked for Economic Times, Pioneer, The Times of India, Indian Express and a host of smaller banners.
Born in Ballia, a remote village of Uttar Pradesh where her father was a district magistrate, the author spent 11 years in a convent boarding school in the hill station of Nainital. After attending college in Lucknow and getting her master’s in political science from Jawaharlal Nehru University, she went to Pennsylvania State University as a teaching assistant. Her stint as the first columnist of foreign origin for the local newspaper gave her a taste of celebrity that made her impatient to return to New Delhi and plunge into journalism.
With a ‘punny’ title, That’s News to Me! is all set to hit the stands. Don’t miss it! ~This post has been written in association with Readomania as a part of its book pre-launch activity~
I have often found myself leaning towards lionization. Lionizing events, people, life in general. I think it’s a stupid thing to do. Not all events are grand nor all parties marvelous or all times dripping with uncountable moments honeyed with joy and celebration. Days are mostly just days, untinted by sepia-toned happiness. That’s why I have decided to caption this post simply. My internship story was just such a story. Simple. Unadorned. Full of those large terms of corporate life you come to hear often. Work, productivity, deliverables…
There is always a haggle for internships especially in the second year of engineering. Everyone takes up some project, digs up some contacts, makes his/her way into some famously named corporation and so on. There is a lot of fondness for big names and bigger titles. Besides, internships are time for gyaan by seniors, frantic hunts for good projects and sweating it out at the height of summer or shivering your way to work in the depths of winter, for a taste of that which you call ‘work experience’. Sweet term, isn’t it?
But some people of my ilk preferred the sweetness of slumber to the tedium of toil and so, two summers of my B.Tech. flashed past in blissful holiday-making and vacation. But when the third year loomed large, I began to sweat. An internship had to be had this time.
As good fortune would have it (as it usually has in stories and anecdotes), one of our alumni came to the campus to get some fresh talent from our batch. They crafted a test and handed it out to all of us. As it happened, much to my surprise, out of the six students selected for internship from our batch, I was one. The only girl, to be sure. I did draw some stares that time. My peers wondered if my flukes had hit home somehow. But thankfully, for the time being, I had clinched an internship!
And therein began my two-month long chapter. We were to work at a start-up which makes Android applications keeping in mind the needs of the rural sections of the society in addition to the innovations in the industry and the like. I had till then worked only on a couple of languages like C, C++, Java. I am not much of a techie and Android was new to me. I didn’t even have an Android phone at the time. But Android I did learn. On the job as they say. We used to start working at 10 in the morning and till about 6, we hacked at codes and ran tests. I was given an app all to myself. To be honest, I was more interested in designing the user interface and the logo and even coming up with dumb one-liners to append to the app title than coding the actual thing.
Although anyone who knows me would tell you that I am no great a fan of coding, I am well-acquainted with the madness that takes hold of you when a semicolon is amiss, when everything reduces to the flashing screen before you, when your fingers talk code, when an unsuccessful execution causes your heart to sink, when a particularly stubborn code snippet causes you utter frustration, when you press F9 and experience wild joy on seeing it all execute. Those two months sealed these feelings deeper within me.
By the time we were done with our internships and had our letters in hand, I had discovered a latent love for technology somewhere in me. I have no idea whether the app I made was ever released in the market, but since then, every time I glanced at its interface, I thought it looked beautiful, much like a poem.
And if apps can be poems, can’t internships be stories as well?
I’m sharing my first internship experience for the #MyInternTheory activity at BlogAdda in association with Intern Theory.
*This year, on mom’s birthday, I was not at my creative best. But a birthday is always special and so, I somehow bunched up a few lines for her. It’s your day, mom :)*
A scarcely blinking light
Throws into shadow
Your face otherwise lit
By a thousand deeds of the days past. The shadow lifts at dawn,
The birth of a thought, The dawn of an era, The lines of a woman, A phenomenal woman. Freeing a caged bird From the clutches of prejudice, Defining love and loss On her own terms A life so glorious As to move the dumbest stone to soul-stirring speech. Ideas so powerful As to turn a flickering flame of light To roaring fires of creation, Stark simplicity dripping with wisdom Denser than the densest metal. Wielding the pen with finesse and feeling, She stands tall in the hearts of people, The halls of power, The gardens of love… Revolution she was, Inspiration she is.
The clock has barely struck eight when her phone starts singing a mad tune. Rakhi glances at her phone screen and sighs.
“I got to go, Megha…”
“But it is barely eight!”
“I know…but you know as well…”
Both the girls sigh in an implicit understanding and Rakhi turns to go.
Where you ask? Why, to home sweet home! The curfew has struck. Cinderella needs to be back or in this shadowland of crime and grime, she would not just lose her impressive attire but her life itself.
As the moon ascends in the purple sky, we see gals hurrying away, their family frantically waiting to usher them home, even as guys order another round of beer. When I was a kid, I kept hoping to grow up, thinking that adulthood was the license to stay late. I couldn’t be more wrong.
To validate my statement, just plan a trip with a couple of your girlfriends. If you get an instant nod from all family members, then please inform me. I would like to meet the great souls. At least once such a question or one of its variants might come up- “An all girls’ trip? I hope there would be at least one man with you people?” As if that one man would be some kind of Hulk or Hanuman. I agree the security issues are huge especially in the country we reside in, but my naïve mind wonders if hemming all women in by a certain time of the evening is a really good idea? Doesn’t it steadily give rise to an all-men night? What a weird dystopian thought!
The curfew timings for girls may vary and in some cases, might not even exist. But in most parts of the country, women today do have such a time. I call it the Cinderella time. What is your Cinderella time, if I may ask?
If you are a Y chromosome, you might not have heard of this phenomenon before. But then you might surely have accompanied a Curfew-ridden Cinderella back home or at least offered to do so? Well, isn’t that what a knight-in-shining-armor supposed to do? Or for that matter, a chivalrous prince? Hold the delicate hands of the dainty princess and walk her down the aisle. Or lay down your life for your lady love. It does sound so wonderfully Victorian era-ish, doesn’t it?
But what if the knight doesn’t feel strong enough? Or the damsel is not really in distress? Do they still need to play their god-ordained, or shall we say society-ordained, roles? For the sake of romanticism perhaps. Or for saving face in front of the policing ‘society’ which has nothing better to do than pass judgments and provide unwanted critiques. The very same society which rushes to call a man effete who doesn’t feel up to some ‘manly’ task and which deigns to look at a woman who is way too good for its liking. The questions just keep coming…why is it such a pain to put up with a more successful woman? Why cannot we readily find examples of hypergamy among men?
Talking about stereotypes, how many of you have cringed at the thought of being driven about by a woman? Or marveled at a gal steering an SUV? Somehow the idea just doesn’t seem to stick. We still feel the need to respond extraordinarily when we see such otherwise pretty ordinary happenings. Add to that, the preconceived ideas of women considered inept for certain roles leading to biases against female managers or women in top roles. No doubt, the likes of Chanda Kochhar and Mary Barra are storming male bastions but the examples are few and far between.
Oh but let us not forget the famous Indian dilemma! The moment a girl reaches adulthood or turns into a lady, before greying hair can give her the news of her age, her family does the honors. How you ask?
Like job offers, marriage proposals pour in from all conceivable corners. Guys can wait, but a woman unmarried at say, 30 must surely be an old maid!
‘What’s wrong with her?’ people will whisper. ‘Facing too many rejections perhaps!’ they venture. And the poor parents rush around begging for decent in-laws. Sigh!
I agree the biological clock is ticking. But why do we have fairness creams and age-defying gels directed primarily at women but no brand yet claiming to keep a man young? We will drool over George Clooney (okay I admit I do so too) calling older men sexy but see an ageing woman as a crone?
There are just too many Cinderella moments in women’s life. Sometimes the curfew time, some times, the biological clock. Oh dear Cinderella! What a race! Running and always running…
“Oh, that clock! Old killjoy. I hear you. Come on, get up, you say, Time to start another day. Even he orders me around. Well, there’s one thing. They can’t order me to stop dreaming.” (Cinderella)
I may have misplaced the details a bit. About who spoke what. After all, it’s hard to remember everything, but this is what roughly happened.
Pic credits: angiewindsor.blog.com
A cloud of dust hovers in front of me, preparing to settle and then rise again as another car whizzes by. I think about other clouds like these.
Bright. Iridescent. Blue. Green. Yellow.
Holi is two days away.
Five Holies ago, I was climbing out of the cocoon of high school discipline and the sheltered life therein. Eighteen years of childhood and teenage had passed me by. I was an adult now.
“Any plans tomorrow?” someone asked the class at random. Holi was a day away. Freshman year. Barely out of high school. Newbies. Nascent adults.
Some response about bringing colors. Some volunteers. Another voice came up for a Holi party. Hmm, something was happening. Cool, I thought.
The next morning, I carefully oiled my hair. And donned an old brown kurta. Just in case. Plans are always tough to execute when too many opinions are involved. And so, the Holi celebration agenda was in a haze for the time being.
When the class broke for lunch, I had realized preparation wasn’t required. There was probably going to be nothing.
“Got the colors!” Anshum, the bespectacled joker of the group announced, brandishing a pouch that looked small and suspicious.
“How many in? We are going to play right now,” Amaan declared with a tone of finality in his voice.
“Now?” Medha asked, sheet in hand. “Can’t we play after class?”
“Come on, Medha! Just one class right?” I said to her, suddenly all excited and willing to play. Medha and I were already friends by then. Arushi and Apara were yet to join our bandwagon.
“Four classes!” Parul reminded everyone, opting out of the whole idea instantly.
“Oh come on, people!” I really was all for it. I wanted to go all out this time. After all, what else is college about?
Sakhi was ambivalent about it and looked unconvinced.
“I am in, you guys decide! I can come anytime.” It was Hanima. She was the one who gave me the confidence to go ahead with the plan. “What’s ED lab compared to Holi? I can easily go if you guys are willing.”
I was glad there were a few people who could survive on a little less of study for a day.
I was wrong, though.
Friday afternoons were usually reserved for Engineering Drawing lab classes and bunking a lab is equivalent to losing the attendance of four classes. And attendance, my friends, is the most important thing in the life of a student. An engineering student, at least.
With utmost regret I have to state that the guys were all ready but it was the fairer sex that was dilly-dallying. Except me, of course. Obviously ED probably had much to do with it. Although I quite enjoy sketching and have whipped up some Madhubani paintings in my teenage, the thought of drawing a well-measured top view and lateral view gave me the jitters.
“Final call, guys!” Lucky announced, as if announcing the final boarding call for passengers. “See the loyal ones at Sutta Point in fifteen.”
The order had been delivered. Now remained the question of loyalties. Parul had left even as the annunciation was on. Arushi and Apara followed suit. Now remained us four.
“Are you guys coming?” I asked them.
All of them looked like they had been asked to choose between death by hanging or electric chair.
“Come on, please? Let’s go get a life! It’s Holi after all!”
“I will surely come, baby.” That was Hanima. Just notice the enthusiasm she displayed. And hold this thought. I will come back to her later.
“Let’s first go to the washroom,” Medha suggested. For Medha, washroom was the go-to place for everything. You could cry it out, think it over and talk it out; in short, do everything in the hallowed restroom. Going together to the restroom is a ritual we have religiously followed through the four years of our graduation.
While Medha was putting on her facial creams, my phone rang.
“Are you guys coming?” It was Praneet.
“Umm…yeah I guess.” I looked at the three girls before me, trying to gauge their reaction.
“Let’s go, baby!” Hanima said with great vigor.
Emboldened by her support and pushed on by the forces waiting outside the gate, we hurried off, with the promises that they would follow.
What happened in the next half an hour, I can’t recall very clearly. All I know is that I found myself at the Sutta Point with a bunch of guys from our class, brand new friends of mine, Karandeep leading the pack. And Hanima? Well…only the Seven Heavens knew where she had disappeared off to after escorting me out of the gate.
We took our group of sevenish people to CC (Community Centre, NFC), the Mecca of all our outings, the place which was to become our haven in the coming years. And there, beneath the shade of the huge banyan, right in front of the McDonalds outlet that was to become the touchstone of our gatherings, the celebrations began.
Anshum lunged at Shubh, coloring him all over. While Karandeep took a dig at Praneet, Lucky quickly made a call to Abhinav, gathering his forces. Battle cries were sounded and the lovebirds sitting sweetly beneath the banyan had to part as a fierce war ensued. Colors were shed and clothes ruined. I managed to get my hair dyed red and green and further red and also slapped on some colors on each of the warring factions but my motive had shifted now. I was awaiting someone else. I had only one thing on my mind. Yes, you got it right. Revenge.
It was Anshum who received the call. Yes, it was they, the traitors who had chosen to attend the lab class. We gestured to him to call them to the park. As the sounds of giggles and excited chatter grew nearer, we decided to maintain pin-drop silence. None of us uttered a word.
“Yayyyy!!!” They came running towards us with a mission, revelry etched large on their faces. We, though, sat mute. Indifferent.
“You guys! What are you sitting for?” Hanima shouted. “I thought you would be playing!”
None of us uttered a syllable. We looked around at the trees as if the leafy creatures were telling us such interesting tales that we were deaf to their speech.
“Aashi! Why isn’t anybody saying anything? What did you all do all this while?” Medha and Sakhi came up to me and began asking.
“Aashi?” Hanima ran to me.
This was the precise moment I was waiting for. The person I was waiting for. The deserter. Yes, you are right. Hanima, who had left me stranded. I had something in store for her. I didn’t say a word as she came closer. Then I looked up and signaled almost imperceptibly to Abhinav behind her.
A barrage of Coca Cola bottles were emptied on their heads and a volley of colors shot. Before they could make out anything, we were upon them. Shouts and screeches rent the air as both the armies fell on each other. Colors were daubed mercilessly on faces, arms, and most of all, hair. Clothes had never been more colorful. And I had Hanima in my grip now.
“Abhinav! Helllppp!” I screamed and he rushed in with a garden pipe helpfully lent by the caretaker of the park. We drenched her in a shower of black and grey colors, smattering her face with a fistful of gulaal.
“There!” I raised my fist in victory. But the oncoming party was already upon me. Pinning me to a nearby tree, Medha and Hanima took out a bunch of colors from God-knows-where and colored me blue, green, purple, red, black…
Meanwhile, a vicious attack was on. Sakhi was tempestuous as her tresses dripped with Coca Cola. She concocted a deadly mixture of Pepsi and silver grease that she took out of her bag. A fierce battle ensued.
And ended with a bang. And pangs. Hunger pangs. All of us, exhausted and awfully spent, traipsed to McDonalds for a burger.
The gang! Those were the days…
That day when I took an auto home, totally unrecognizable and frantic to reach before my mother dialed 100, (because my phone had had a rough day too, having been drenched and colored), I realized I had lost my drafter and my set of carefully drawn sheets to be produced in the semester practicals. I realized all this while rinsing my ears out, trying to ascertain if my hearing was still intact.
I ended up getting home, drenched, blackened, sooted, spending the next four days scrubbing my face off, draining my hair a minimum of twenty times and ending up with red, green and blue roots (no hair dye needed for a few months). The impressions left on my earlobes and underneath my fingernails told tales about our Holi exploits. I was ready to tell anyone who would listen about how I was colored and by what machination I managed to take revenge.
Yes, I lost my drafter and sheets and had to redraw those darned things again. I also missed my ED class. I had called myself a fool then. But today as I think back to my college days, to playing Holi on college streets, running around in parks being chased by disgruntled guards and restaurant owners, unleashing hosepipes on each other and devising schemes to color each and every person, come what may; I realize that I gained more than I lost. Well, memories for one. And yes, friends…
Holi does that to you. Makes friends out of classmates. Out of non-talking batchmates. It was the Holi of our first year that cemented our friendship. And created memories. Lingering memories.
I’m pledging to#KhulKeKheloHolithis year by sharing my Holi memories at BlogAddain association with Parachute Advansed. #KhulKeKheloHoli
On the occasion of World Poetry Day, let me try my hand at some versification. A few free verses. Or doggerel, if you will. For everyone has the right to rhyme. Or not.
Spirits soar and
Leap beyond self,
Streams trickle towards each other,
Reborn into a cataract,
Gushing from a height.
Panglossian ideals and pluperfect dreams
Feel real enough,
Lulling you into a sweet madness.
The lines between devilry and sainthood blur,
Shades and hues of all kinds find home
Here, in this habitation of freedom,
In this haven of thoughts,
In this milieu of doodles,
In this tiny land of scribbles,
Where love is the only rule,
Where all are kings of their destinies,
Where dreams have found a way to exist,
Where life has found a way to thrive,
Despite the threat of indifference.
~The True Treasures~
For all non-Bengalis, before you think I have messed up on my spellings, let me clarify – Didibhai is an endearing term for Didi or sisterin Bangla.
A luridly colored purse with flaming orange fur dangled from her shoulders as she hopped away in gay abandon.
“Didibhai…” he called after her in a squeakily cute voice. Didibhai turned.
“What will we play now?” he asked his elder sister, looking up to her with much respect and great awe.
“Come along you,” she ordered, taking his hands in hers and both the kids skittered their way to the balcony.
Didibhai loved to count her treasures and at that stage, nothing was more precious to her than her beloved tazos. Both the siblings sat down cross-legged on a mat spread out on the balcony floor spreading their treasures with much ceremony. The coin-shaped but much larger in size ‘tazos’ that used to accompany the packet of potato chips in those days of yore (as I call them now although they don’t seem so far away in reality) lay spread out ahead of them. A major reason that the inclination to buy wafers and potato chips developed in the kids those days was these tazos. Cleverly marketed by the companies, the tazos had captured the imagination of the little kids, leading to a shoot-up in their sales. While most of the tazos sported static colorful pictures, some of them glittered with twin images as well. Perfectly round, almost like coins and decorated with images of cartoon characters, the tazos were the most prized possessions and the closest to the siblings’ hearts.
“There! A lizard!” Didibhai shrieked and little Bhai’s eyes darted to where she was pointing. Her hand meanwhile had surreptitiously stolen over to his side. A tinkle sounded somewhere but before Bhai’s attention could be diverted, Didibhai repeated, “There! There! Two more lizards have come up!”
While the poor kid looked around for lizards, the sly elder sibling pocketed some of the tazos from Bhai’s side.
“Where are the lizards? I can’t see them!”
“Oh I think they vanished. You shouted too loud and scared them away,” Didibhai said, knowing full well that her word was the ultimate irrefragable truth for her little brother.
By the time he had returned to the tazo game, Didibhai’s pile of tazos was much larger than his. No prizes for guessing how the mischief was managed.
Once upon a time…
When we were younger…
Does the above narrative ring a bell? At all?
You know, it was a pity that you couldn’t count at the time. Had you been able to though, I doubt you, my dear Bhai would have countered my words even then. Such a perfect disciple you used to be! Sigh!
Those were the days! My golden days of reign! What fun I had had!
Looking back on those days, I wonder how things have transformed. Yes, I still call you Bhai, although (I guess it was quite expected!) you have dropped the salutation of Didibhai you had reserved for me then.
Do you remember how we invented games out of thin air? The days of Pokemon and Maggie Hot Wheels racing? The days of playing cricket with plastic bats and housie with plastic utensile? The days of endless Beybladeing ? (Although I later restricted myself to providing commentary as you and your pals ‘let it rip’)
I remember how we gushed at the new stationery, dividing the pens, fancy erasers, sharpeners, scissors and the like into neat piles. Those tall Shaka Laka Boom Boom pencils, egg-shaped sharpeners, huge Goldilocks and Snowwhite books… Crap…how I miss those days! The days when our biggest problems used to be taking a bath and eating meals. The days when all we needed was our colorful paraphernalia and zero interruption by ‘elders’. The days when all we feared was getting scolded by mother for messing up the room and scattering the toys. Oh how we treasured those tazos, cars, dolls, cutlery and heaven-only-knows-what-not! But I know now what the true treasures were. Moments with you, dear brother…