Sunday, May 12, 2013

One Two Five Nine Zero

It wasn't the same any more.
She witnessed it all. Her little eyes couldn't understand.
Like little blinking sensors, she observed and memorized.
Were they fighting? Were they loving? Are they nuts!?
She wondered.
She could have said.. "Are they fucking nuts!?" But she was just three.
The word "fucking" wasn't in her immediate vocabulary, though it was used quite a lot in the household for sometime now. Its frequency increased during late evenings. Of the word and of the action that it's supposed to refer to.
This was domestic violence in the newest (weirdest?) form.
There were no physical bruises.. except the love bites.
The wounds were psychological. The healing was physical.
But there wasn't any love either.. or it was in its most wildest form.
They quarrelled like they were gonna blow themselves up.
Usually it was just her doing that. To him.
The fight ended. Night crawled in. They slept in each other's grip than in each other's arms. Mornings saw one leave before the other. The days were silent. Evenings and fights became synonyms.

One of those many mornings saw her leave. Forever. Putting kohl on her teary eyes..
Kissing Zoey adieu. Forever.

Forever, is what they had promised. Forever, is what they wanted it to be..
Forever, is what they said it would last, on the day they got married....

They got married. A love marriage. Not really against the family but not much  "pro" family as well. His income could afford them only a small apartment. Their families could have got them a palace. But love marriage.

Their best-est decoration was their cute daughter. Zoey. The name was her choice. He didn't even know what it meant till he googled it. His first concern was, how would he defend and reason this super fhirangi name to his ZeeTV Marathi parents. So he came up with "Jui". A semi-regional name. Meaning Jasmine.
"Fhirangi people call this flower as Zoey, you guys can call her Jui" he told his parents.. Though not thoroughly happy, they were okay with it.. Zoey/Jui's cuteness and amiability overrode every thing. EVERY FUCKING THING. Her sight, her voice, her ways had the power to end wars. Hitler would have married a Jew if Zoey had asked him to.

On the breaking point of his life, there nestled a jewel in his life. That jewel was Zoey.., that which he weighed more than his own life.

He showed her the milky way. Like literally. The whole damn thing, across the sky from the heights of Himalayas. That was when some "Susanne", showed her "stars" on the ceiling of her bedroom. Zoey being Zoey said, "Suzy, if you can buy stars, they aren't stars."
After hearing the Suzy encounter, the Himalayan odyssey was planned. Stars, Galaxies, eclipses, he showed it all. The whole of the visibly observable universe was imprinted on her already beautiful mind.
For him, she was his universe.

Hospitals have this snoggy smell. That is how she expressed that smell. Or the atmosphere. She said, "If I am not sick, this snoggy smell makes me feel sick."
The nurse smiled. This cute one won hearts everywhere she went with her chicken legs and a flowery bow. She loved it when her mom tied her hair with it for the first time.. She wasn't quite sure how to express it though.
"Papa look! What mom did to my hair! She is tying things to my hair!"
He lifted her up and hugged her as her mom put her school bag  and the water bottle around his arm.
"Don't I look pretty papa!?" She had this huge smile on her face! And so did he.
Dropping her at the school was a mini heart ache. Eyes were always a little misty. Not hers. His. For some reason he hated it. He was the first parent to reach the school premises to get her back home. The school's security guard become his mate. The guard even invited him for dinner!

The CT scan machines, the MRIs and all those huge "weird shaped elephants", if you want to use Zoey's vernacular, have an effect on one's mind.
"Doctor Uncle, Doctor Uncle, why don't you put flowers and some fake stars in your weird elephant room, like suzzy does in her bedroom. It will look and smell less snoggy."
"You cannot win an argument with this kid." Said the Doc, to his nurse. "She is Madame Curie's Indian reincarnation.."

Some nurses could be arrogant as heck though. One of them made his princess cry!
Tried to thrust water down her throat for USG procedure.. She cried not for she was required to drink water. She would do it even without asking. For some unknown reason, she loved water. He called her bewdi (Drunkard), a name previously used by him to tease her mom....
The water used by the nurse had a stagnant kind of smell to it which Zoey hated.. He drank it and spit it back on the nurse's face. He knew that was wrong, but the nurse deserved it. The smell was of alcohol. Home-brewed alcohol.

He took Zoey to the local nariyal-pani walah. Father and daughter shared this common liking for coconut water. Zoey got her coconut for free. They bought nariyal pani from this vendor for so long that Zoey's friendship fetched her free nariyal pani. "Chacha, aap iss nariyal ke andar paani kaise daalte ho?" She asked. That bought a little tear in chacha's eyes, as he smiled and said....
"Nisha aise ajeeb ajeeb saval poocha karti thi humareko.." Wiping his tears as he looked heavenwards...

With her tummy filled with Vitamin E enriched or as Zoey would say it.."Vitamini Ukt" water, the USG was done... and so were many other scans...

Her first encounter with that weird elephant was through a glass door.
She was afraid..but as always curious. She raised her little hand and held on to his jeans.. and nudged it..
"Papa...what is that thing?"
"Will I be put in there too? What does it do? Will it hurt? Will they make me drink water again? Can you ask them to let me have nariyal pani, Papa?"
The questions didn't storm out.. they were asked one by one.. with a pause.. and a curiosity in her eyes to know the answer..
He explained. Truthfully. From the science of working of those machines to their medical use. He did it with a story. A very cinderella-like story. She loved it. 

"Is there anything to worry doc?"
"I am afraid so. We did a thorough scan .. its failing. And quiet fast..She needs a donor.."


Her stay at the snoggy place was over.. She dreaded this place. She was kept smiling by her papa throughout her stay.. But she couldn't find him as she woke up from her sleep. Not the day after... not a month after...not six months after...
She did ask. Not once but million times. She wanted to know. She was told different stories. By her granma and granpa.. by her teachers, by the doctors...and by her mother.
None were true... And neither were they as exciting as those told by her papa.

As she was leaving that place, she came across the same weird elephant room...
She looked through the glass.. At that weird elephant.. Her hand reached out almost
involuntarily to nudge at his jeans...
Her heart pounded finding its absence... Finding his absence..



Back home, they were packing. She had tons of dolls. Not barbie like. He got her handmade dolls. They may not look as well made as those found in huge shops, but they had this lively expression on their handcrafted face..
These dolls were being constantly bombarded with stories and queries about him, by her. Throughout the day.. and sometimes throughout the night, till all the dolls fell asleep.

His phone rang. She jumped up in excitement. "Ma, Papa forgot to take his phone! Now he'll have to come back to get it!" She gave the phone to her mother..
She tried to answer the call....
"Argh, his stupid phone is asking for a pass code.."
"Vaan Tchoo Phaew Naeen Jeelo" exclaimed the little one..
"Thankoo shooo muchhh, Zo!"
She typed in.. "Twelve-Five-Ninety"
That made her wonder....
Till then she had already picked up the call.
"Hello, could you open the door? I am standing right outside.."

She found the voice familiar.. She did not hang up the phone and walked briskly towards the door..
The cute one followed her...dragging her handcrafted doll

"Hello Maam, this is from fernsandpetals, a special delivery for you.."
"Whoaaaaaaaoowww" Zoey exclaimed..

A huge ass bouquet of flowers.. Orchids and Jasmine, stood there..
"What is this for.., Who is it from? What is all this?"
Her anger was mixed with excitement and mystery..

The delivery guy gave her the card...
"Happy Birthday Dearest. Live Long And Prosper, My Love."
It was from him.

"Happie buhday Maaaa!!, Papa sent this didn't he!?"

She could barely talk.. she tried to smile.. but couldn't..

"Could you sign here, Maam?"

'12/05/2013 - Delivered'
She saw this written on the writing pad...as she signed..
"Twelve Five...." she murmured..

"His phone.... Twelve Five Ninety...." She blankly looked at it..

"Ma.. Papa loves you sooooooooo much.."
Zoey stretched her tiny arms in air..

She hugged her daughter.. very tight...
She could hear Zoey's heart pounding..

She heard his heart pounding...

"Vaan Tchoo Phaaew Nayeen Jhee Lo"
Zoey whispered as she played with his phone...


Zoey was his life. Her mother was his love. First love.