Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Today I finally got around to writing something for my blog, and that makes me very happy. :)

I could of course, tell you how busy I was, how much work I had heaped on my desk (figuratively…I use computers nowadays), how badly my health has been behaving, etc. But I find I get very irritated and defensive when other people say they’ve been busy (‘Does she think she’s the only one who works around here??’) and really my ill-health doesn’t make very fascinating reading. So I’ll go straight to the last and by far the most entertaining reason why I have been neglecting my pore ol’ blog for the last month.

I went to Calcutta at the end of last month. This time, it was much more than the usual trip back home (though I always thoroughly enjoy even those-- full of relatives dishing out insults and food with equal abandon). This time, I had a date with a blue-eyed young man I had been hearing a lot about the last 10 months. We’d exchanged pictures, witty banter over chat (to quote him, “99jhjdk” “ksbhbd000”…cracked me up every time.), and he’d sung some of his own compositions to me over the phone on a few occasions. Needless to say, I was dying to meet him and his parents and when they flew down to Calcutta from the UK to meet my parents, I followed soon after.

I first caught sight of Pippin (Syon to everyone else) sitting quietly like a little pixie in the crook of his mother’s arm. I don’t know if it was because he was my nephew (blood runs thicker than water, yada yada) or because he was just so prodigiously cute (like a Trait-R tested bunny from my super hero post). As we regarded each other solemnly, I felt quite an unprecedented rush of maternal affection, and I hoped we could be great friends in time.

I always thought babies were pricey and quite insulting in how they chose some people over others. This wee chap won hearts by how social and nice he was to everyone. It is more surprising considering how unsocial his mother’s side of the family can be. Fortunately so far he hasn’t seemed to have got those genes. Only our beauty and wit.

Before the night I landed, I had alarming visions of his turning away shrieking whenever I approached him for a bit of aunt-nephew bonding. Needless to say, I was greatly relieved when he regarded me with great interest as if saying to himself “Coo, this lady’s cheeks look nice and chewy, innit?”(He is from the UK, I am introducing dialect for verisimilitude.)

In no time at all as the days progressed, we were crawling about the floor together, or when the Ma-sheep (moi) took a break for the trillionth cup of tea he would grace me with a little visit, pushing his grandmother’s cane stool ahead of him like a walker. My mother or I would pick him up and walk around with him, if his harried parents needed their hands free for some other baby-care activity, and he would head-butt me in the teeth (10-month old heads are HARD, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and pull my hair until some strands gave up the fight, as signs of his affection. I took his parents aside, out of Pippin’s earshot; and advised them to wean him off this particular habit, lest 20 years later, irate mothers of young women called and complained about brutality.

Most gratifying of course, was when he would laugh uproariously (all 8 teeth on show) at the same old game of peek a boo, as if to say “Corblimey, Ma-sheep luv, you’re so funny!” or feel safe enough to fall asleep in my arms as I sang to him.

Not to say things were all sweetness, poor Pippin was a martyr to his tummy and a cold while he was in Calcutta, and hence fretful at times. Those were times nobody would do except his parents, and he would bawl loudly if the others in the house had different ideas.
I also noticed his hilarious habit of grumpily pushing his lower lip out … the spitting image of my sister when she’s in a temper.

For all the Mashi-bhagne bonding though, I would be lying if I claimed I was his favorite in that house. First prize went to his grandfather, with whom he spent happy evenings wrestling. I think my Dad is getting all the contusions on his head looked at now, a consequence of being the favourite.

His great- grandmother was also thrilled to meet him, and would complain bitterly that we didn’t bring him by as often as she would like.

It was very hard to part with him, and I’m ashamed that I was more of a baby than him when I had to say goodbye to that house full of people. My grandmother sitting in the verandah thinking back on her life, my parents pleased as punch with their grandson, my sister and Steve -- proud parents, and little Pippin. MJP was full of life and joy and laughter; mealtimes bedtimes voices raised in admonishment because the baby had crawled under furniture; songs being sung; people breaking into impromptu jigs to entertain baby. Hard as it is to come back to our work home in Bangalore every 6 months, leaving a home that just overflowed with life this time was a wrench.

But there’s always next time, that’s the best thing about family. And next time maybe Ma-sheep could actually hear what Pippin has to say instead of guessing, and sing songs with words together.


shreyasi said...

Beautiful. And I would say that even if the subject matter wasn't my son! I read it several times- beautifully written as always but moving too. Leaving was a wrench for us too, and we hope it won't be a whole year before we see you again.

Suchismita said...

You just took me back to my own times with the little niece and nephew at home. Aren't they always wonderful to be with?

And er, isn't it Mashi-bonpo and Mama-bhagne and not mashi-bhagne? I could be wrong, of course...

diya said...

hey shashi, that was a really good piece - i dared to approach the baby turf, despite your warning! :)
i know a little bit of the wrench you're talking about. we've just got a new puppy at home, and i can't wait to go back and see him (i've spent a lot of ..ahem.. work time today shopping for him!), but it's going to be so hard to leave again! what a bind it is!

Rashmi said...

I know exactly how you feel. I can FEEL my heart wringing every time I say goodbye to Zaafi. I can assure you it does NOT get any easier.
It is also a relief to realise that 'cynical old us' do have some feelings after all! Diya, I do love your comparison of our nephew/neice with your new puppy! This is exactly why I love you guys so much. Baby, doggie, 'hubbie' all the same.... :D

Shashi, I have to say your writing has been sorely missed and deservedly so. This article is so beautiful and heartfelt that I am lost for words.

Monica said... adjectives will convey the feeling and nostalgia this write up invokes....brilliantly written. I relate to the leaving part so exactly though I agree I get to go home many more times than you do but it is as hard as hard can get. Keep writing!!!

Anon said...

Loved it... This is my favourite.. and guess ur best too!! :)

Ushasi said...

Thanks, people. :)

Oh is it Bon-po? Thanks for pointing it out. I'll change it.

Diya, thank God you said 'a little bit' or we would all have been baying for your blood for comparing a puppy with a baby! :)
I'm sure my sister would like to have a word or two with you. :D

db said...

Lovely post. Welcome back. :)

Chiquíta said...


diya said...

hehehe. shon, amader puppy-ta kintu puropuri ekta baby-i. sharakhhon amder kole boshe, oke rattirbela ghum parate hoy, every few hours khaoate hoy, and if you turn away from him and he can't see you, he cries!!! so, at the risk of your sister's wrath, i stick to my guns! :-P

diya said...

and i can't bear the thought of leaving him the day after tomorrow...

Shrimoyee said...

Ma-Sheep is hilarious and so appropriate for you. I have been itching to tell you this ever since I read it today on Syon's blog.
Syon or Pippin which I like better, is an absolute darling. I am sure you had a hard time leaving him and worse was them leaving to go back home. Its a heart breaker.
I know. I am living through it all.