By Lekha Nambiar….
It had been pouring since morning and all her friends were out on duty. Blackie, Viola and Flora had left in the morning, and Carbon hadn’t returned since Tuesday. He was always quite busy during the monsoons. It was going to be only Grandpa and Kutty at home these days. She could hear Grandpa’s soft snores from the corner. Now and then silence would set in, then slowly the rhythmic snores would begin again. O Goddd… it was boring. Dull, grey, musty, wet and loneliness, Kutty hated these things that came with the monsoons, but she loved the monsoons and the sunshine. She decided to cheer herself and what better than to read her own old diaries. She picked out the one for 2018 and leafed through to her favourite page. She flattened herself on the floor and began to read her not so very neat scrawl.
Saturday 5. February
Most beautiful and adventure filled day.Very tired but l must write it all. It all began…
Grandpa is on one of his adventures and we are all around him; Blackie and Viola plonked flat on the floor, Carbon as always leaning in his corner and Viola trying to stand as upright as she could, for she is ever concerned about her posture.
Suddenly the door opens and in the wink of an eye l am grabbed and sent out with Aunty S. “Ah, compact and the right size for my bag,” she says. Me surprised, scared and excited, but nobody answers my ” Where are we going?”
The next minute Aunty S zooms away in an auto, me on her lap, and her mobile beside me. My first ride in an auto and l can feel all my spines rattle as it hurtles through the ups and downs of the road. l am trying to hold my life together. Aunty S blissfully oblivious to all this is busy on her mobile. The roller coaster ride ends and as she gets out l am slipped into a bag.
Out of the darkness l hear a cheery ‘Hi’. Should l respond? A more cheery ‘Hello’ and l look up to a beaming green water bottle. Green ji, as l’ll call him. Like Grandpa he seems to be a Know All. Tells me Aunty S and her school friends are going to be meeting after many years. It’s to be a picnic too. His whispers drown in a whole lot of cheerful greetings outside. Looks like friends have arrived.
Scenario change : we are on a train. Ufff !! a big competition of a lot of noises and voices. Green ji is so much in demand and leaves the bag a couple of times.The rhythm of the train lulls me to a snooze. Green ji brings tidbits of news every time he’s back. Suddenly he prods me awake; we are in a restaurant.
Looks like the meeting place, because every now and then there are greetings and laughter and new voices joining. Hearing the joy in those voices l so want to see them all. No… no… not complaining, because here l am on my first day out and already with so many new experiences.
All along Greenji is jabbering away in his cheerful voice. He tells me the friends are a bunch of home makers, doctors, engineers, teachers, designers….and a whole lot of professions, l can’t remember now. We keep on chatting. Suddenly Greenji whispers, “l think they are off to a sea trip!” I couldn’t believe my ears. We had heard of Grandpa and his boat trips, but none of my family members has ever been to the sea.
Another new experience ! I can hear the water lapping against the jetty. Just as Greenji is telling me more, we are already on the boat, and soon Greenji disappears again. I snuggle in my corner quietly trying to imagine Aunty S and her friends, the boat, the boatman rowing, the sail fluttering in the wind…( flashes from Grandpa’s stories).
Suddenly l am being lifted up and Aunty S says, ” Totally forgot l have this one.” Comments of ” Unusual colour”,” Cute size” “So tiny” etc, but l am beside myself.
Here l am, out in the open, seeing everything l wished to see. So many faces, lovely voices and sheer joy all around. The breeeze on my face. Aaah bliss. Someone sings an old Hindi song and does a little dance with me. Everyone seems to have a cap, hat or a dupatta, except Aunty S and it is blazing hot, and soon l am with her, fully open.
The friends are now in smaller groups. It is fun listening to them enjoying singing, dumb charades, recollecting school days, the mischief they had been up to, teachers’ nicknames…l can imagine these dignified ladies as mischievous kids as they seem to be so full of beans even now. Aunty S is now standing up and acting out the name of some movie when there is a loud scream.
One minute l am secure, the next I’m floating in the breeze and suddenly all wet. There are shouts, warnings and directions from the friends and the crew. Scared I see the boat, the tyres tied around, the people…all drifting further away from me. Am l going to drown? Will l never see Grandpa, Viola….
That’s when l see some activity on the boat. One of the crew is trying to draw me closer with a rod. He pulls me nearer to the boat and then suddenly the boat and l drift apart. While the crew member is struggling to get me, all of a sudden l feel being whisked up in the air. There were screams of ‘ Don’t!! ‘ ‘Be careful’ and ‘Oh nooo ! ‘ and that’s when l see one of the friends, a doctor, dangerously perched on the edge and victoriously shouting out ‘ Got it’ and holding up a dripping me.
She’s on the edge of the boat with me safe. There are cheers and reprimands for the doctor for having been so daring, but reckless. Aunty S is close to tears at the happiness of having got me back. She says that her niece would have been heart broken if l had got lost. I can’t believe that someone would miss me other than my family.
I am wrapped up in a few newspapers, not for protection, but more because l was stinking. ( The different Uugghs… and lyyooos… are proof ) l am suffocating wrapped in the smells. I think the excitement, the extreme fear and all the new experiences lull me to a deep sleep. Did l hear ‘byes’ and ‘see you soons’? Not so sure.
I wake up screaming when l feel l am sinking again, but soon realise that l am only getting a thorough wash. Aunty S makes sure l am good as new. l am dying to proudly tell my family my experiences. Only sad that l never got to say ‘Bye’ to Green ji. He never came back to Aunty S, maybe he went home with one of the friends.
Grandpa finds Kutty fast asleep beside her diary. He puts her in her corner and her precious diary away.
About the Author
Ms Lekha Nambiar has been in the field of teaching since 1984, in Chennai and Mumbai. She has taught English, Business Communication and Communication Skills in schools, and colleges. An avid reader, she enjoys travelling and music, and has also been editing books in her spare time. Contact : ,[email protected]