Untangling the puzzle of my life…Fair or Dark…

Untangling the puzzle of my life…Fair or Dark…

I nurtured many grudges against my Amma…the biggest of them was that she walked back to her home at Lower Bazaar when she should have been in the Snowdon hospital where she was admitted to deliver me. And that she decided to stay with my elder sister out of motherly love. This led me to believe, albeit wrongly, that she loved her more than me even when I was not even born. What was the need for her to walk all the distance from the Snowdon hospital to the Alley  no. 2 in the Lower Bazaar….if it was not to let me be down for my whole of my life…a girl born in a small home in the congested alleys of Lower Bazaar? When my elder sister, the fair one, was born in the hospital, Snowdon hospital…with flower beds outside, the big rooms and the building with the colonial grandeur. In fact, Amma had walked only to visit home for some hours and might have decided to stay for the night;  and foolish as I was, and always in a hurry, right from the beginning, I popped out the same very night. Though it never came to my mind that who helped her deliver me…but now I am sure that it would not be a doctor, as her gynaecologist Dr. Nanda lived far away and would not pay night visits. I am sure it must have been one of the two local midwives who might have helped her deliver me. A pity that I never asked this question as I had so many grudges against her. 

My elder sister was born in the month of Januarry, a month, when Simla is covered in snow. As she was very fair complexioned child…I always believed that the month of January had something to do with her being so fair in colour. Amma would say that the husband of our Jamadarni would call her “Barfoo” because of her being snowwhite. I hated later the story of Snowhhite, such was my deep-seated feeling of anger for Amma and her first born! The neighbourhood aunties had other stories to share substantiating my concerns. I was born in the month of August which in common parlance was called Kaala Mahina…the Dark month, I would seriously think has my complexion something to do with the Kaala Mahina? To my little mind, putting two and two together made some sense, white complexion in the month of January and dark complexion in the month of Bhadon, the kaala month! They loved her more…I was certain. I was weak and plain, dark as well, being born in the month of August, the desi Bhadon, called Kaala  Mahina. I was named Kalo!!!

And it led to further questions and finding answers, all by myself. I remember there was a poem in one of our books in class First or Second which was:

Monday’s child is fair of face

Tuesday’s child is full of grace

Wednesday’s child is full of woe

Thursday’s child has far to go

Friday’s child is loving and giving

Saturday’s child works hard for his living

And the child that is born on the Sabbath day

Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

And see the irony, my elder sister was born on a Monday…3rd January 1955 and I was born on a Saturday, 25 August, 1956! What to say of Amma even the gods had been so partial to me, from the very beginning. Now when I can look back at my life at the age of almost 64, I can say, yes, I worked hard for my living!! 

Second grudge I had was that there is no photograph of my childhood till the age of 5 perhaps whereas my elder sister had hers taken in the Roshan Studio at the age of 7-8 months! How I hated that picture of hers, I wanted to destroy that picture which was displayed on the mantle where we kept the alarm clock, everytime I would look at the time, she would smile at me fro mthat picture, reminding me the discrimination I had to go through. But her  photograph was replaced when a son was born in the family…and now his picture adorned the coveted place. There was not enough space, even to put the framed photographs, so it had to be the most primed ones to seek that coveted space on the mantelpiece!!!

I might have carried all these grudges throughout my life but as I was a keen listener and sleeping in all the information coming from any quarter, it helped me to come on terms with the unbiased love of my Amma. It so happened that a child was born in some relationship who, to, was weak and sickly. The women sat discussing the poor health of the child when one of the women said, “Why don’t you take the child to that Peepal tree and bathe her under the roots of the tree?” She looked at me…meaningfully and added, “Look how good she is now as compared to her sickly looks!” The story that I learnt was that Amma was worried for my poor health and would resort to all remedies which she would come across to improve the health of her second-born daughter, Kalo. She was told that if she bathed me under the protruding roots of a big Peepal tree, all ailments would be warded off, and I would be healthy, wealthy and wise!! So she did it and the result was that I grew healthy and strong after that. When I learnt this incident about my life, albeit, indeliberately and that, too, from some other source, my love for Amma and loathing for my own thoughts, grew abundantly!! I wanted to sleep with Amma that day though she could not find any reason for that but I was happy to sleep snuggling in her bed and lying at her feet as the other prime space was taken up by my young brother and I could get only that space.

Looking back at life I realize that when we walk up the heights and take some time to look back,,,not in remorse or anger but a feeling of having walked the miles with love and hope…to face the challenges of life, life looks so much fair to us…literally as well as metaphorically. No darkness around us…not even in looks!!!

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