Today is my father's birthday and I am continuing my effort to write something about him as I decided to in 2008 and then managed to in 2009 and here I am now, writing in 2010, but at the 11th hour as he would have said :).
Kishmish had fat cheeks. Really really fat cheeks, that looked like clouds. Everybody loved to pinch them. They would say, oh so cute, and bend down and pinch both cheeks hard. Kishmish would glare, but did that stop them? No it didn’t.
Kishmish lived on the 7th floor of a tall building. From the balcony she could see pigeons and crows, huts and shops, divali lights and construction dust, far away a hill, and hundreds of cars on the roads.
One day Amma was taking Kishmish down in the lift so she could play. The aunty from the 6th floor got on. Oh how cute you look in that frock Kishmish, said aunty and pulled Kishmish’s cheeks. Kishmish glared at her. But did the 6th floor aunty stop? No she did not.
Then the didi from the 4th floor got on. She had a purple iPod and yellow nailpolish. Kishmishhhhhh! she screamed. You’re so cute! She pinched both of Kishmish’s cheeks. Kishmish glared at her. But did she stop? No she did not.
On the ground floor as Kishmish ran out of the an uncle she did not know, smiled at her. Kishmish smiled back. Then he bent down and pinched her cheeks. What a cute little girl! he said. Kishmish glared at him and glared at him. But did he stop? No he did not. In fact he started to pull her cheeks some more. This was too much for Kishmish. She screwed up her face. But he kept on. So Kishmish kicked him and he let go! Oh, that felt pretty good.
The uncle yelped.
Amma turned around and glared at Kishmish. Kishmish! That was very bad. Why did you kick that uncle?
Kishmish looked away glumly. Amma waited.
Kishmish said nothing - would Amma understand if Kishmish said he had pulled her cheeks? No she would not. She would say, oh the uncle likes you and you behave like this?
Fine, Amma said. No playing for you. Get back in the lift.
And so Amma and Kishmish came home. Amma put on her computer and started to talk to her friend on gmail chat.
That’s not fair! Kishmish said, you are playing with your friend on the computer!
I did not kick anybody Amma said, so I can. And I am not playing, I am working.
Kishmish went into the balcony. Nana was sitting there trimming his moustache in the sun. A shiny black crow was cawing loudly from the roof. Oh, Nana said, listen to that crow, looks like we’re going to have some guests. Kishmish did not answer. Nana laughed when he saw her face. Nana never pulled Kishmish’s cheeks – he only laughed at her always.
Nana! Don’t laugh at me! Kishmish said.
Oh Nana said, you are sulking are you?
No yelled Kishmish. I am not sulking.
OK Nana said, and went back to looking at his moochhi in the mirror.
I am bored! Kishmish said. I want to go and play.
Who can stop you from playing, Nana asked. Play!
No, I want to play with someone!
Ok, you can play with me, Nana said.
No! You are too old! You can’t run and play.
Hmm, Nana said. Maybe. Maybe not.
What if… we went to a place where I’m not old. Then we could play together.
Kishmish looked interested.
Where is that place?
Nana put the mirror and the scissors down. It’s called Anarkali Bazaar he said.
Now look in my eye, the blue one. Nana had one blue eye and one brown one. He could not see from the blue eye.
Kishmish came and looked into the eye closely, frowning.
Do you know what’s behind the eye? Nana asked.
What? Kishmish asked, her eyes big and round.
It’s the Neela Gumbad!
Kishmish peered and squinted and then yes! behind Nana's blue eye she could see a big old building, like one she'd never seen before, with a round domed roof of deep, beckoning blue. There were people around it, selling things on carts, going about in rickshaws or walking.
Do you want to go there? Nana asked. Kishmish nodded, a bit excited but a bit scared too.
So then let’s go, Nana said, to the Neela Gumbad, the Neela Gumbad, the Neela Gumbad. And in a minute they were there, standing inside a round building with a big blue dome. Next to her was Nana. He was 5 years old like her and he had the FATTEST cheeks, much fatter than hers! And both his eyes were brown. He did look different, but it was definitely Nana.
Come on Nana said. And the two of them ran out of the Neela Gumbad and into Anarkali bazaar!
TO BE CONTINUED