Yes this is a boy girl story or it will be more appropriate if I call it a baba – baby story. The protagonist is a three year old, not so cute boy, this is about his affections, his determination to walk the girl to her home; but what it turned out to be the longest walk taken by any human of that age in the part of our country known as Malout, a not so small town in Mukatsar district of Punjab.
September 1991, I was three year old, perfectly completing my duties of visiting my maternal grandfather’s house for the fourth time that year with my mother. Malout no matter how small it was or still is has always remained popular for punjabi salwar suits. So my mom, once in for all forgot about me and was busy shopping. However my aunty (Mausi/Masi *used interchangeably*) was in charge of me, as she didn’t had her own offspring at that time, she was too fascinated with the moves of a tiny but not so cute Satan.
Well perfectly speaking even if I don’t remember, I am sure that I was getting bored. Aunty wasn’t letting me down. Huh what she thought that I was a kiddo ,but this is what I might be thinking “come on mausi I am grown up now, I know how to piss and how to do number two by myself, without any help; but definitely I need someone to wash me off.” Then she came the cutie pie in her mother’s lap, and upon watching me her mother started yelling at her baby, vekh chhota bachha- vekh chhota baccha (look at the small boy). My luck favored me probably for the last time and she responded to her mother’s commands. Ah those eyes, lekin wo aankhen; aankhon me jhanken or behkayen mujhe (Those eyes force me towards insanity)
Soon my masi and that new aunty were busy discussing about some new suit designs. I as the ultimate opportunist got away from the claws, and got closer to the girl. Her name was guddu, (yeah I know every household in North India had/has/will have a guddu/kaku in their home at some point of time), but it was the sweetest thing I heard till then. We pretend to play with a toy for some time , but actually we were having some grown up talk.Then she started walking out, and towards her home, yes without her mother, so as a gentleman that I was, I decided to walk her. I secretly hoped that it would be my walk to remember. There was a punjabi classic folk in the air pichhe pichhe aunda meri chal venda aayin ve (If you are following me, then watch my back).
Things that started well soon turned out to be bad. Her grandmother came out of nowhere, and picked her up. I decided to play smart, I didn’t want anybody to know of our love, so I started strolling aimlessly, but with one eye on my sweetheart. Before getting into her home, she gave me that assurance look, that insurance agents gave to their new baits. That look cast a spell on me, and I forgot about everything and I kept on walking, walking, and walking.
Back at home soon it was realized that the children are missing. The new aunty rushed towards her home and she found her guddu, but where was Ishu? My mother with all her perfect timing landed home, and inquired about me, the reply she got in return was a long, and loud howler from my masi. As a world class pessimist, my masi even made promises to give her first child to my mother. On the other hand I in my white Kurta Pyjama (starched white clothing) was inspecting the area like an MLA, until I felt a urge for something to eat.
The rescue squad (my mamas), were called into action. They went to every colony, of the town, and started announcing via loudspeakers of temples, and gurudwaras. They made a specific mention that the child was wearing a white kurta pyjama when he was last seen, but as he is a child with rowdy instincts it can be of any color by now. Finally somebody responded to the call, he came rushing towards a temple in Camp Area of Malout, met my uncle, told him that they found a child wearing lemon chiffon kurta pyjama, aimlessly strolling and asking for biscuits.
When my uncles found me I was happily sitting on a cot, surrounded by ladies, nibbling over a biscuit, in my brand new lemon chiffon kurta pyjama. I returned home a survivor, but I never met that girl again.
I walked for 1.1 KM only, but still it remains a walk to remember.
- My mausi still has two children, she constantly bickers over their habits, and sometimes wishes why one of them never got lost.
- The grandmother of guddu, soon became most hated lady of the community as she ignored a helpless child on the road, but she still lives at the age of 79.
- My mother keeps on visiting Malout thrice a year still, and unfortunately her salwar suit shop is still up and running.
- Guddu got married in 2009, at time of marriage her weight was 81 KG, the lowest in last 5 years before her marriage. I wish her luck and I wonder at my luck.
- I still have to go to the home where I was found nibbling, whenever I visit Malout. There is a helluva beautiful girl in that household, but I call her mother mausi.
- I don’t eat biscuits, because if my mother asks me what do you want with tea, and suppose if I say biscuit then she will reply, “If you want biscuits, then why don’t you go to camp?”