When someone tagged me and urged me to share “my earliest memory” I smiled because, with me, it is never one memory. Also, if there’s one way to woo me, it is a cuppa coffee. One triggers another (the coffee as well as the memory) and before you know it, I have a whole garland of memories strung together. Yep….I have a case of somebody, stop me!
My earliest memory – no, memories
I have plenty of early memories, Mi. Nice ones and not-so-nice ones.
Nice ones like cuddling up with you while you studied for your exams and being quiet and feeling very proud I helped you by taking your coffee tumbler back to the kitchen to be washed.
Memories of having my hair smoothed back and then ruffled and turned into different hairstyles, looking at the mirror and laughing my head off as you hugged me tight.
Gazing up at the mirror in that room with the towel on my head, the hanging ends twisted as if they were long plaits, and wishing they were real hair – and you and Paati hiding and watching me, trying hard not to laugh.
A stray memory of Shivamma giving away the tricycle I enjoyed cruising around in…around the time I was two…. right in front of my eyes to a neighbor and laughing as the tears streamed down my face, and yours.
No….no sad memories now.
Being pinched by Chinna Kannan our neighbor who found joy in seeing my skin turn instantly red each time he did it. Remember how he would threaten me, saying that if I ever told anyone…..I kept my mouth shut. But my skin told a different story and you used to be shocked to see those red marks.
Being kissed by Lakshman -we were both five – we both had chubby cheeks. How you guys laughed to hear him promising me that when we both grew up and went to college, he’d take me out on the Lambrerettata scooter, just like Kanna mama.
Memories of the two of us somehow coming back from Delhi to Paati in Mumbai – a miracle.
Early morning walks with Gopu mama, skipping beside him and around him as we went to the milk booth to fetch milk, reciting nursery rhymes, slokas, songs, poems and speaking fluently (or so I thought) in English. You would make me write essays about it. And I would delight you by drawing a comic book for you!
When Kittu mama returned from the office, I’d draw cups of coffee and pakodas on the red floor with chalk and he would endearingly pretend to enjoy them.
Asking Gopu mama for help with a school essay and having him tell me “Always attempt everything on your own first before asking for help. You’ll be surprised how much you are capable of” He was, and is right. I am ever grateful for that valuable lesson.
Watching our Gujrati neighbor in the building next door from our window on the second floor – and smiling every day, until they invited me home one day, gave me a mega glass of flavored milk to drink, chatted me up and sent me home with a big packet of chocolates. I think I was 4. And when I returned home, Mama chided me for accepting the chocolates. Then burst out guffawing to see it was Rajangaon and not Ravalgaon. So hilarious. He insisted we should not eat them. Does anyone remember those candies?
Kondu mama, who worked with Boots Pharmaceuticals, would bring something called “paltab” (that’s how i remember pronouncing it) We would put one big round tablet in a glass of water and watch it effervesce – into a golden sunset color. And it tasted so good. I would love to place the tab on my tongue and feel it dissolve little by little, until the final speck left a sort of sour taste, which I liked.
One of my happiest memories is Kondu mama placing that tray of water near my bed with envelopes he had brought home – with those stamps. And a big bar of Cadburys or Gems next to it. Paati would swoop down and confiscate the chocolate. I would take the stamps out and dry them and paste them in that album.
Remember how I once stored cotton candy in a bottle and was so disappointed when I opened it the next day. There was just some sugar granule-ish stuff smeared on the bottom of the jar. Who knew?
Even worse was my disappointment when I planted an iron nail in a pot and it did not grow into a nail plant. I was 3. I would check the pot several times a day until you all worried about it and asked me what the matter was. Then you consoled me and explained why…and showed me the rusted nail.
I wonder why Paati always freaked out when I went to the back verandah. I loved to stand there, listening to the pigeons fluttering around, and watching the people next door go about their routine… the open air cooking in the afternoons from which all sorts of aromas wafted up. Chickens running all over the place, getting out of the way of the goats, while the cows and buffaloes watched serenely, quite content with life.
Tasting my first Coca-Cola when I was around 2, with Kallu (my aunt) at a movie. I remember she got me a Cadbury’s chocolate bar that melted off in my hand and I ended up trying to lick half of it….and getting the rest of it on my frock.
Mi, remember how you always laughed at me for dusting talcum powder on my hands after I washed them…after meals…to get the sambar smell off? I am laughing now, thinking of how I started putting a little powder in my pockets – so each time I put my hands in, they’d come out smelling good.
Oh, the funniest memory is when the clock struck 2 pm in the afternoon -and the milkman would ring the doorbell. Paati would open that steel cupboard to get the cash to pay him. And I would hopefully hang around for two biscuits! How strict she was about rationing everything!
And that fluffy ribbon badge one of my frocks had? I used to call it a Padmashree – no idea why! And wanted one on every frock! And you obliged. I still don’t know what they are called!
Sigh. I wish you were here to tell me those stories!