There is a naughty child hidden in every old man. My Dadu had one too. That naughty child would peek out every once in a while and make someone bear the fruits of his pranks. Me. But as with the case of every innocent – they teach you so much in every step they take. So did my Dadu. Why I am associating him with a child, I don’t know. For it was his fingers, which guided my first steps. Or is it due to the fact, that I remember bidding him adieu as his vacant, innocent eyes looked upon me with a tinge of sadness. Earliest memories of him taught me:
Love for Books: I remember he had a locked cupboard. My curiosity knew no bound as to what was in there. During those days, I would imagine all sorts of sweets and later as demands in my life introduced me to the green notes- I would think it was Ali Baba’s cave. It wasn’t. It was full of first editions of Bengali Literature, Works of Shakespeare and some very old Chinese Literature. The smell of old books, with those yellowed, papery delicate pages makes me still hold old books with such reverence.
Though I still have one question for him – why did he keep it locked? I mean, I was a young kid. He could hardly blame me if a few small fingerprints with great blops of mango pulp left some permanent marks. He was a possessive old man, I tell you. And on top of it, he left me those books and that same feeling of possessiveness – shattering all my dreams of Ali Baba’s treasure cave.
Entertainment need not be Expensive: In today’s gadget filled world, this is a rare commodity. I remember the time when a new club had opened in Ranchi. I think it was called Gymkhana. Can’t recollect. But, I do remember that the cost of membership was very high and I wanted it bad. Why? Not because I wanted to dance in the wee hours of the night but simply because Archana, my then best friend had it. I was furious when I was denied the privilege on the ground that it is a wastage of money. Archana’s parents got the award of being the best parents in the world while I declared, to my family, that I was born by mistake in this household where simple pleasures of life was denied. Like a warrior, I battled the whole family but could not even make a dent in their indulgent smile. Of all the times, they chose that moment to show solidarity!
Only Dadu understood how much I wanted that. He asked me why I wanted it so bad. I remember mumbling that it will clear my brain after a hard day’s work. I was in year 5. He did not laugh. Next day was Sunday. He took me to a grove.
Early morning, when the mist was just deserting the earth, the smell of oak touches your soul. A blanket of acorn covered the damp earth. Small squirrels scampered everywhere. The beauty intoxicated me and for a moment I forgot my resolution to stay angry. I ran about, squealing in delight, at the scampering squirrels. (Note to animal lovers: I thought they were playing hide and seek with me). I hugged Dadu and thanked him for bringing me here. He smiled at me and said, “well sweetie, since you are relaxed now ….”and took out a wretched Wren & Martin from the back seat of the car. I was duped !
About Rubina Ramesh
Rubina Ramesh is a writer/ blogger at The Book Club. Her passion for books made her realize that there is world of book lovers out there. Her writing stint started with Indireads and now she is working on two manuscripts – a Romance and a mythological. She just hopes they see the light of the day soon.