Landmark events make for remembrance. It was our parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary and I was laughing out loud at what a roller coaster ride it has been for all of us.
Then came the flood of little memories:
My grandparents huge rambling garden in Patiala. I was a very little girl and my mother was walking me around the garden ostensibly to teach me my tables. We walked through the rose garden and I learnt about Crimson Queens, Sunflares, Tea Roses and rose -water; onto the lawns and the profusions in the beds offered hollyhocks and Sweet-peas, Talking Antirrhinums or Snapdragons that opened and closed their mouths and could tell stories. The pixies that lived in the rockery and the fairies that lived in the flowers. Finally we discovered a water pipe feeding a flower bed and, there , where the water hit that lovely brown mud was a little hillock of rippled chocolate effect. That is all it took, we sat there for the rest of the morning making mud cakes and creating a little garden-world of stories.
I still don’t know my tables, but I know moments, dreams, beauty and life. I think it carried me farther than the tables, thanks my mommy.
Then there is the memory of the most unique driving lesson a girl could have. The emptiest, straightest, safest stretch of tarmac my father could find was the runway at the Dabolim airport in Goa. That he was commanding the airbase at the time was obviously a necessity. So there we were, one orange ambassador, my daddy and I at the start of the runway: into first gear and we bucked into motion, into second which was smoother, third was a piece of cake, cruising, then he say ‘see that line there, now put it into fourth, that is where you step on it, get to fifty and take off.’ We went racing down that runway and almost fell off the cliff at the end, driving lesson or flying, I don’t know what he imagined, but I am still flying!
I think every girl has a swash buckling hero in a dream somewhere. Just what do you do when they come larger than life?
She lived at 5 Safdarjang Lane in Delhi and he was a flying instructor at Jodhpur. How was he ever going to woo this amazingly beautiful woman that he had met?
He did it. Almost every Saturday morning as she sat on the lawn or the verandah, reading her book, a roaring fighter jet would do a low fly past, waggle it’s wings and disappear to land at the Safdarjang Airport. Soon after this swashbuckling man with a flying helmet under his arm would come calling.Uff! And we get excited with motorcycles.
They still make the most beautiful, if volatile, couple and I think I speak for all of their children and grandchildren when I say we are extremely proud to belong with them.