Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To her with Love- Happy Birthday

Dear Onal,

Yesterday as I was carrying my cart out of the shopping mall, I saw a very pretty seven year old dressed as a princess. She was running with a magic wand as her mother was chasing her playfully. Not knowing where to hide she came and hugged me hard.
As her laughing mother came to collect her, the child smiled to me and said , “You are my Uncle Davie.”. I smiled and patted her head and said , “and you are , my angel, my little Onal”.

I suddenly felt like Kabuliwallah, the delightful central character of Tagore’s evergreen masterpiece. He sits down on the floor as he thinks of his daughter. I sat on the bench ,with a Cuban coffee, thinking of you. Never mind his loose pyjama and shirt and my shorts and tshirts. We both were far away and were thinking of someone we loved!

As the French say “ "Plus ca change ,plus c’est la meme chose"”
The more the things change , the more they remain same.

There is always a Kabuliwallah deep inside all of us. It needed the genius of Tagore to pen it down.

Tomorrow is your birthday. Let me walk you through the memory lane. The lane filled with happiness , cheer and sunshine and where your uncle was young and charming! (Or young at least!).

The memories are more and the space is short. So I look into my kaleidoscope and pick up random what I like. If I could, I would have gifted the whole kaleidoscope to you. Alas. Youtube has yet to develop the technology to upload pictures captured in my mind.

Remember how you loved animals. It always fell upon me to take you to the zoo. In your innocent mind the seven seater ‘Tempo’ was a more regal vehicle than our sad Maruti. So , I had to carry you on my shoulder along with your lunch of cream biscuits, chocolates and water bottle and trudge a mile to the main road and then wait for an empty one. As I wiped the sweat from your forehead , you were incessantly chatting, your cheeriness totally oblivious of my discomfort. There in the zoo, after talking to all the monkeys and zebras, we used to always sit close to the lions. They were your pets. You wanted to offer them biscuits. We used to shriek with delight when they roared. Your biscuit thrown by me was loved and accepted by them.

The return used to be quiet. You sleeping in my arms peacefully. I longing to sleep peacefully!

Do you remember that journey from Mumbai to Goa in a ship. Remember the picture at gateway of India? You running with childish delight after scores of pigeons! You captured every one’s heart with your smile.

Remember as a family, how gifted we were musically. How grandpa teased me that I was a greater artist than a singer. When I happily asked if he liked my drawings , he would quip no but I hate your singing. We also were a family with two left feet. All except you.

One day you brought the traffic to a halt in Panjim , as you started dancing in the middle of the road. The laid back , good natured people of Goa clapping enthusiastically and the smiling policeman posing for a picture with you.

Then there were birthdays. We used to keep gifts at your bedside and you would wake up to the alarm set at 12 am and the squeals of delight and laughter as grandma used to feign anger at disturbing the neighborhood.

Remember I used to sing living doll every night before you slept. And you used to listen as if I were the best singer in the world.

We didn’t have a care in the world. It was all happiness and sunshine.

But we all knew. Childhood is one borrowed time. The only happy time. Hence it comes at a premium.

As your grandpa waged his losing battle against death , we all watched helplessly. Destiny can be cruel. That day I spoke to you as an adult. Told you that your dear Gram is dying and it was time to be brave. Your eyes brimming with tears, yet not a drop falling, you nodded your head as you listened silently.

There were two deaths that night. Your innocence died with your gram.

Both would never return.

My coffee is over. But the train of thoughts aren’t. I order one more. The Cuban coffee is strong. It kicks you like a horse. But today it seems a little watery. The lovely lady gives me a warm smile. She can see mentally I am not there.

Remember the time I came to Mysore to your college. It was just for two days. But it was fun. When you gifted me the shirt with your first salary, I choked.

Time just flew , like the painted kites we loved to watch on sankranti.
Like those migratory birds that came only to go.

I sigh as I think how much I lost of your growing years. Once Yugesh had asked me how much I really knew you guys since I was seeing you for hardly two weeks a year. I had no answer. I cant turn back the clock. But it sure crosses my mind, was it worth?

Your grandma always complained that we relate better to animals than human beings. Even now I find my biggest happiness when I am with the neighbor’s dog or the majestic ducks who come regally as if feeding them is my job and they are born to be served.

Tomorrow is your birthday. It is the time for celebration. With people you love.
Your grandma was right. We relate better to animals.

So we shall celebrate your birthday together.

Happy birthday sweetheart.

The ducks send their love.


  1. Wish you many more happy returns of the day, Onal.

  2. Thanks very much satish.
    Its conveyed to onal.

  3. wow chachu.. m speechless n all teary eyed :) this is the best bday gift ever!! i still remember all the memories u wrote abt.. even the zoo one.. i must hav been a toddler then.. wish u were here now.. but u know how it is.. even if v r in same city v r not abl to meet daily coz of my job :(.. thank u so much for this .. feed some cake to ur ducks from me :)

    love .. Onal

  4. Hi Onal, glad you liked it. me too thght that now any gift however expensive wouldnt matter to you. but these memories would be priceless.
    glad you enjoyed them. :)
    ya my ducks say quack quack.