One of my grandmother’s fondest memories, that she often tells me about, was the day she was chosen from all of the little girls in the city of Doon, to present a bouquet of flowers to Pandit Nehru. Believe it, or not, he’s also one of my favourite semi-fictional characters from Indian history.
Naniji, or Mrs. Bahl, as she is mostly referred to as, was quite a rule-bender. The only one, in all of her wedded family to work after marriage, she ran the house just as much as my Nana.
Her charismatically controversial cut sleeve blouses, and those 5 inch long stilettos that she tip-toed in all day, remain quite a topic of conversation, even today.
They say, some traits (good or bad) skip a generation. My great-grandmother is said to have “शिफ़ा” or magic in her hands. Some say, she had relatives come in from far away cities just to have a meal cooked by her. While my mother surely has gotten that from her grandmother, I got word, music, dance, language, power and pride from mine.
Another reason I absolutely love Nanima, is for the times she crushes money into her palm, to hide from everyone and sneak into my pocket while she feeds me अट्टे का हलवा, then tells me not to tell anyone about it. Sorry Naniji, I couldn’t resist. .
I love you, Mrs. Bahl.
मेरे घर की पिछली गली में,
वो घर है जहाँ में बड़ी हुईं...
इधर कुछ चीज़ों की कभी कमी नहीं होती;
नारंगी रंग के मीठे चावल,
चावल मैं किशमिश।
किशमिश में छुपी अनगिनत कहानियाँ...
काली-सफ़ेद तस्वीरों में राजे,
पुरानी डाईरियो में बसी रानिया।
चाय के साथ पकोड़े,
आलू, बैंगन, हरी मिर्च...
नानीमाँ की झप्पी,
और थोड़ी सी किच-किच।
मेरी नानी के घर में,
सिर्फ़ मैं नहीं,
मम्मी बड़ी हुई हैं...
यहाँ की हर दीवार,
यादों से लदी हुई हैं...
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