By Srishti Saha
I walk in the narrow lobby of the house, take my shoes off, and enter the drawing room holding my Baba’s hand. After moving ten steps further, I see Dadi briefing the cook for dinner tonight. I tug at her Mundhani, she looks down, and places a kiss on my forehead. I unwrap my hands around her knees, and run to the room opposite the kitchen. This is where Dadu sits.
Biting a Marie biscuit dipped in his chai, an English newspaper in his lap, he gives me a wide smile. He invites me, and I turn around for him to pick me up and prop me onto his lap. He kisses me on my cheek, folds his newspaper, and takes out a book. Our ritual goes something like this – he would first show me all pictures, explain them to me in English, and then read out the rest of the book to me. Dadu would later give me the book to carry home putting it in Ma’s bag before we left. Therefore, I have a few old English and Bengali books at my house that I probably never read, but I would never donate it.
It has been six years since Dadu died. Eight months later, my Dadi passed away too. With that my one tiny escape into a welcoming Bengali world just shut. I miss Dadu more than ever now. Being a half-bengali, half-punjabi, I have always been an outcast among cousins, aunts, uncles, and even Bengali neighbours! I used to sit in one corner, looking at then giving me looks as if I was an alien.
I wish, I had Dadu to pick me up, and prop me in his lap whenever my cousins made fun of me in Bangla, or when I felt left out at family get-togethers, and puja festivities. I did not value Dadu or story telling then, but I do now. All that is left now are a few hazy memories, and some books kept on the uppermost shelf of my library.