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I remember 2009, when maasi used to drag me along to Karol Bagh, Delhi to buy me gifts without any reason. Because, aren’t aunts the most adorable ever? And me being extremely fond of this particular aunt, I was plain biased about her. (For who wouldn’t love her with all the pampering and gifts!)

But then for almost the next decade, she disappeared in thin air. She wasn’t in talking terms with anyone in the family. It was somewhat her marriage that distanced her from us. And I was shattered, I’d miss her. With or without the gifts! It was not as much the gifts as it was that she was more of a friend, a confidant; she would play with us, she’d take us to the park right outside Nani house in Rajouri Garden and help us make friends in the neighborhood as well. Everyone there loved her. But, I remember getting so insecure seeing the other kids play with her. She was my maasi and she was supposed to pamper my cousins (read: only my first cousin Sucheta) and me! I’d cry when the other kids would request me to let her play with them. Such big tears of insecurity! I missed her terribly. Nani house was not the same once she tied the knot. My other maasi passed away sometime before her wedding and my cousins did not visit nani house anymore. Post which, I grew up almost lonely at Nani’s house. Summer, winter and all vacations were kind of mundane with no laughter or rather no joy!

Until we reconnected a few years back and were almost teary eyed at the same. She wanted to make up for all the lost years and I couldn’t stop shedding tears of joy, I still am.

I was during my first year of graduation and I’d visit her at times on weekends. She had evolved as a person and maybe she wasn’t exactly the one I’d adored all my life. I had grown up as well and she had kids of her own now. Somewhere, most certainly I was insecure of them as well because in my head she still just belonged to me. But isn’t that the course of life?

Anyway, we’d skip to this one fine day we’d gone back to Karol Bagh like we used to during my childhood days. It was a certain summer afternoon and the kids were still in school and maasi wanted to buy me some clothes. Although I didn’t want her to get into all these formalities and I refused. But she wouldn’t budge. She insisted on the fact that although she couldn’t play along with me but she could always get me some gifts! And she’d shut me up with that. She’d chosen a white chiken anarkali suit for me. And the fate of it?

When I lost all the 15kgs, it would only perfectly fit my mother. I just resembled a hanger with the same on me. But I’d kept it close, in my cupboard.

I remember wearing it on Republic days, while I was teaching at an NGO in Dehradun, for Teachers’ Day at Xaviers’, for Diwali at times and for a few other occasions which weren’t as significant as a certain 10th of March. 

It was 2018, and just another day. We were supposed to have a rehearsal of the entire cultural festival been organised by my faith group. We as a group of youth were depicting the bond of a mentor and disciple through a musical. A fellow participant decided to play a prank on me, saying that it was a dress rehearsal that day and we were to wear whites only. I had just my maasi’s white kurti and wore the same to the rehearsal where I of course realized the truth! As soon as I entered my Alma mater, I couldn’t spot a single soul in white and I wanted to disappear! But I couldn’t because, you know, it was all for the mentor and my faith!

The rehearsal had started. I was standing near the podium beside the stage, distressed, for I’d to soon get on the stage and enact a piece of the poem titled, ’Blue Deeper than Indigo’. And I definitely couldn’t do so with a shattered cell phone (another misery!) in hand. I had forgotten my bag back at home as well. And my kurti didn’t have a pocket. 

But then, serendipity maybe? Isn’t that how we met? I’d almost called out an acquaintance and handed him my phone and amidst all the rush, the anxiety and the day gone wrong, my heart had skipped a beat. Maybe it was your eyes that gave in to the fact that perhaps you were the only right thing that was meant to happen to me that day! I could feel them, the butterflies within! 

And isn’t it amusing that I still do? With you, it’s always been this way. Strangely comforting with a sense of belonging out of nowhere. No matter how beautiful, embarrassing, funny, ridiculous or awkward a situation might get!

And guess who I’d credit you to?

No brownie points for doing so though! It is perhaps the one who got the white anarkali tailored without the pockets, because who knows if she’d already known? Like she’d known me forever. Or maybe I’d want to believe so.



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