It is late in the evening and I ping my daughter. She usually takes time to respond, and I get back to my work. My daughter calls back in just a few seconds. And as we start chatting, she tells me that her cousins are calling her and that she would add me to that call too!
And very soon it becomes an aunts and nieces call, with family members from different times zones catching up on a lazy weekend evening. As with all family calls, there is light-hearted bantering and the exchange of silly family jokes.
While we are thus productively engaged, my younger sister signals us to keep quiet. As we wonder why, she switches her camera to the other side.
All our faces break out into delighted smiles, as my sister’s camera follows my little niece, who is walking purposefully towards the sofa, bedecked in a pair of green fairy wings and a green tiara.
She is totally oblivious to all of us, as she walks over to the sofa and settles down to be a fairy princess with the many other princesses on her favourite TV show. We continue watching her, while slowly getting back to our conversation.
She is our own little green fairy princess, with her new wings that are ready to take her to magical lands, where everything is possible and where dreams come true! Love you little fairy princess.
Many many years ago, when I was in primary school – in grade four – I was selected to play the role of the princess in the play, ‘The Frog Prince’, for our school Annual Day.
Rehearsals were on in full swing, as I memorized my lines and performed multiple times before the mirror, before my grandma and aunt, and in the kitchen, as my mom heard me and corrected my intonation and expressions, while still busy cooking with her back turned to me.
I had to carry a small golden ball for the play, the ball that would fall into the well. My dearest Uncle, my dad’s brother gave me one of his orange table tennis balls, which I then wrapped in gold craft paper.
There was only one item left, and that was my costume. I needed to wear a princess gown, with multiple layers of frills. Even before I got the costume, I imagined myself in it. But then, we ran into a problem. The rental shop did not have one that fit my size, none of the clothes’ shops in town had a suitable gown.
When my mom came from the market after doing the rounds of various shops and told me that she could not find one, I was upset and wondered what would happen.
But my mom, with a twinkle in her eye said, “I have bought the material and I will stitch you a gown for your play.”
At the time, I was happy and went back to my world, content that the gown was sorted. After all her daily chores, my mom took my measurements and proceeded to start cutting and sewing.
I remember clearly that it was late at night when she started. However, because of the heavy monsoon rain and winds, there was a power cut. I remember that my Dad lit a huge candle and sat with my mom, as I dozed off to dreamland.
The next morning, when I jumped out of bed and ran to the room with the sewing machine, the room was littered with bits of cut cloth and thread and lace. But on the handle of the cupboard, on a hanger, was the most beautiful pink princess gown ever. My mother made me try it on and made a few adjustments. I had to take it to school that day for a costume rehearsal.
The rehearsal and the final Annual Day play went off very well. I wore that gown on and off when the desire to become a princess overtook me, which was quite often. And as with everything else, the gown slowly faded away into oblivion.
Today, when I think back to that night, I can imagine how much effort my mother would have put in, sewing without power and just by candlelight. I am sure she sewed into the wee hours of the morning. And what to say about my Dad, who was with my Mom supporting her through the night!
My Mom probably does not even remember this, but I still do. At that time, I was just thrilled that I had got the costume, but now I can only see my mother’s deep and selfless love for her child. Love you Amma and Dad. Thank you for that night and for the many millions of things you have done for me.
He would wear a cap to protect himself from the afternoon sun, she would carry a water bottle slung across her shoulder, her mushroom cut gently bobbing up and down.
Soon, they would go exploring the complex. The grandfather would patiently point out ants, beetles, insects and plants. He would share anecdotes from his childhood, and relate it to the plants or birds that he pointed out to his granddaughter.
They would observe neighbours’ pets, and talk to other children. Playtime for this little girl would come later in the evening, but this walk with her grandpa was sacrosanct. They would stroll to the neighbourhood market to pick up vegetables or fruits for the house. The grandfather would indulge his little princess with chocolate or cake from the local bakery.
After about an hour of this, they would walk home, each revelling in the company of the other.
Back home, the pair would play board games and jigsaws, and read books. Before their walk, the grandfather would patiently prepare a small cup of dry fruits – almonds, pistachios, dates and cashew nuts, which the little girl would eat with relish.
The granddaughter grew into a school girl, and moved away to another city, but telephone calls and video chats kept this very special bond alive.
Where once the grandfather taught his granddaughter many, many interesting things, it was now the granddaughter’s turn to teach and welcome her grandpa into the world of smartphones and computers.
They would exchange calls frequently, and they would laugh at silly things. She would regale him with stories of her high-school life and her studies. He would always ask about her future plans.
And now she stands, looking at his empty bed, knowing that one of her best allies has gone – the person who rooted for her all through, who showed her unconditional love, and to whom she was always a princess.
She has brought back one of his caps and has placed it on her study table – a symbol of the love they shared – my daughter and her grandfather.
I have a small scar on my forehead, almost hidden by my hair. My daughter, noticed it one day and asked me if it was a birthmark?
I told her that it was a scar from chilhood and proceeded to tell her the story behind the scar.
When I was in Grade 2, I was cast in the role of a princess in our annual school concert. The princess had to wear a red silk gown with sequins, shimmering and glittering.
My eyes grew as big as saucers when I saw the dress, and I imagined myself, on stage, in that dress.
The concert went off well, but I refused to take off the dress till the weekend was over. And every day after that, when I came back from school, I would wear the same dress, much to the initial amusement of my folks and then to the growing irritation and exasperation!
Our home had a wooden staircase, which led to a bedroom on the first floor. The staircase had a wooden carved railing. When I stood near the highest step, my eyes were level with the ceiling light in the room below. I always stood and admired this.
During one of the red princess outfit days, I had a dream that I was flying through the stair railings and around the light in the room below. It was so realistic that I believed I could do it for real.
The very next morning I stood on the stairs and launched myself, trying to get through the railings. I tripped and rolled with heavy bumps and thuds on the wooden stairs straight into a small brass decorative lamp, on whose sharp edge I hit my head. It was quite painful and I was given 4 stitches on the head.