Monday, February 22, 2010

The road not taken...

When I was just a little girl I asked my mother what will I be...

I guess my mother neither knew the song nor the answer. But looking at what I'm today and my present set of skills, I am sure she'll be more than happy about the road I had not taken :P. So, this is a story of two-year-old Baby S - set in 1976, sometime between October and December!

My mom was at her maternal home for her second delivery. Oh yes, my maternal grandparents were rich and quite well-known in their town. Just the family name was enough for anyone to know who we're related to, and the respect shown in their eyes is unforgettable.

One fine morning, when all the inmates of the white-washed two-storey building on the left corner of a street near Shanti Theatre in Gandhinagar, Vijayawada, were busy with their morning chores, a cute-n-chubby two-year-old baby girl in a red frilly frock got down the two flight of stairs unnoticed by any elder in the household. Having descended the last stair too, out she went from the door that separated the street from the stairs. There were no gates at that time mind you, only wooden doors!

She stepped out onto the wide road, into the big bad world, her own childlike sense of freedom overwhelming her (of course, I don't think she remembers feeling that way but I just said it for effect :P), and looked to her left and right. There was the wider main road on her right and the lane where her grandparents' house stands stretching further on her left.

Hmmm... which road should I take? Left, right! Left, right! Left, right! Grrrrrrr I can't decide. Why can't I just decide and move on? Okay, let me try again. Left, right! Left, right! Left... okay right... because the left road looks deserted and boring. The one on the right, the main road, has a lot more activity going on and a lot many vehicles beckoning me. So main road, here I come... Her little feet turned right and carried her forward.

After stepping on to the main road, she had more choices to make. There were three roads to choose from... left, right and straight ahead. But this time, I think the choice was kind of easy - right again. She kept to the right side of the road and walked, and walked. Just a few tiny steps later, she caught the attention of an old lady sitting at her kirana store a little ahead. Puzzled by the sight of a tiny girl unaccompanied by elders, the kind old lady came on to the road and carried the girl back to her shop. And the little girl could see two varieties of chikki, three kinds of chocolates, and murukulu kept in glass jars atop the desk at the kiosk. Also, the gray-haired lady reminded her of ammamma.

The shopkeeper then offered her two chikkis and started quizzing her.

Old lady: What's your name?
Little girl: S.....
OL: What's your mom's name?
LG: Nirmala...
OL: Where do you stay?
LG: Hyderabad.
OL: (suddenly tense and wondering if someone kidnapped the girl from Hyd and got her here) So, how and why did you come here? Where is your father?
LG: Nanna is in Hyderabad. Amma and me came in train here along with my grandmother. My mummy has big stomach and I'll have a baby brother soon if she goes to the hospital.
OL: (slightly relieved "okay her mom has come for delivery...") So, where does your grandfather stay?
LG: In a big white house. We have to climb stairs and go.
OL: (trying to remember how many white coloured two-storey houses are there in the neighbourhood, for she was sure the girl wouldn't have walked for long) And what does your grandfather do?
LG: He applies dirty black thing on people's palms and wipes it on a white paper.
OL: Do you know his name?
LG: Tatayya
OL: That's what you call him.
LG: Amma calls him Nanna, ammamma calls him Evandi.

So the conversation went on and the girl kept nibbling the goodies offered to her. The old lady was sure someone would come looking for the child anytime soon.

In the meanwhile, the scene at the house was chaotic - grandmom trying to console the uncontrollable sobbing mother who was not just worried about the daughter being lost but also was terrified of her husband's anger. The father was extremely attached to his little girl for she was born eight years after their marriage. Mother was scared thinking that the girl was taken away by dommari vallu (tribe of street dancers who earn a living performing rope tricks and dances on the roads) who had their tents at the end of the road on the left.

The neighbours opposite were summoned and the college-going sons in the neighbourhood went on their bicycles in search of the girl. And where does one of the "neighbouring uncles" find her? At the kind old lady's road-side kiosk munching murukulu and talking non-stop much to the amusement, and entertainment of the shopkeeper. Ah!! What a relief - for everyone!!!

Thus ends the story of a little girl, and the road she has not taken, on a happy note of reunion. And I guess that's how fates are decided; and careers are made, or broken!

What if I had taken the road on the left? Would I have been a terrific street dancer? Or something else? I still wonder and I still dread the thought...


Usha said...

:) In all these years I've never seen u dance altho I did hear tall tales of the koti women's college days. Street dancer apparently! But I grant u, u do have gypsyish taste in junk jewellery. I'll never forget the racket your payal created in KNC class one day.

memories said...

@Usha: LOL... I know! Those were the days!!! Awwww I miss Univ, my payal, my chocolate brown ghagra, long walks, smitha's cats and dogs, hoshi's impromptu poems, the stupid loooooooooong wait for aloo paratha breakfast on sundays to be eaten while watching Rangoli - everything!!!

Bhavani said...

Damn, you could have cherished your dream of dancing to all your favourite cheesy songs..

bhavani said...

Correction, it is a pan shop and not kirana shop according to your mother. And did u start talking when u were 2? My god so it is so many years since you have been talking?

memories said...

@ Bhavani: Yes Bhavs, cheesy songs it is! I think I still have a chance to dance since I lost some weight... what say?
@ bhavani: HAHAHA! VERY FUNNY - I started talking when I was barely a year old, and never stopped after that :P. BTW thanks for the correction...