I fought with her when she was 3. She wanted to see the things I had which she had never seen and touched before – lipsticks, pens, earrings. I shooed her away.
We went for long walks when she was 4. Her little fingers gripped my long fingers while she struggled to keep up with me. She looked wide eyed at all aunties and big kids who pulled her chubby cheeks and shied away when I asked her to say Hello to them.
I told her stories when she turned 5. Stories about my shopping trips, about college and things I saw during my daily travel home. She listened attentively with all the curiosity a child of her age can get. Her huge eyes sometimes glowed, sometimes danced as the stories excited her. She often presented me with a ‘card’ of sorts with her childish drawing and whatever she could write. I’ve treasured each of her cards till today.
I was always there to greet her when she was back from school after she turned 6. She ate from my hands while I told her Enid Blyton stories (The Treasure Hunters being her favourite). I put her to sleep and waited eagerly for her to wake up, after which I would get her ready, eat something and send her to the park to play with other kids.
We watched movies like Jumanji, Dunsten Checks In and Baby’s Day Out together when she turned 7. I teased her about the cartoons she watched like Pokemon and preferred watching Tom and Jerry with her. I still fed her with my own hands. The dreamy girl that she was, she roamed around the whole house getting lost in drawing on a cabinet or exploring a toy and I went around her wherever she went and kept putting food in her mouth.
She refused to do anything without me by the time she turned 8. She would go to the park only with me and sit with me. I went on the swings with her, took long walks and told her stories and bullied her while she laughed and got hiccups in the process. I became the only one who could make her eat or get ready or wash her face; she listened to no one else.
I felt like I was leaving behind a piece of my heart when I moved out of Bombay after her 8th birthday. I feared that she would forget me. She was a child after all; she had so many other things to entertain her and so many people who loved her. I visited her many times during the year, with a gift every time and her love for me only increased. On my visits, she didn’t like me going out to meet my friends. She hated them, in that way! She hated me giving time to my friends and parents / sister.
I took DIY projects when I went to meet her which we could do together. Quite an artist she was even at the age of 9. We tried spray painting and wax painting and spilled more paint on the floor than putting it to the right use. She still wanted to hear the Treasure Hunters story.
We were clearly obsessed with each other when she turned 10. She wouldn’t let anyone come near me and wanted my whole attention. She forgot the world and got lost in me. She was nearly as tall as me now and I could take her out on my shopping trips. Now that was fun. She behaved like an obedient girl and was fun too.
At 11, she became quite a loving, interesting and pretty girl. I loved each minute with her. We went away from home and shopped, ate and took photos. I totally pampered her with candies and books. I could see her become detached. She was a big girl and didn’t quite need me. This was disappointing and hurt me.
I was away at Surat to attend an interview a day before her 12th birthday. I remember her father (my uncle) calling my father and asking me to come for her birthday party. When my father asked if it was okay that I don’t attend, as my grandparents also wanted to meet me that time, Uncle said I was the most important guest and the party cannot happen without me. I’ve not missed a single birthday of hers since her 3rd birthday.
I shifted to Surat (ya, I got that job) and made friends here. My visits to Bombay reduced because I had so many things to do here and I was really happy. She wasn’t happy about this and demanded answers from me every time Aunt called me. She was 13 now and operating a mail id of her own (big girl!). I shared with her my new house pictures, etc. She understood every thing I spoke – about fashion, office, friends, home, boss – every thing. She had become a friend.
She turned 14 this year. She’s at least 2 inches taller than me. Has a bigger built. Clothes that don’t fit her are handed to me (ganji tees and short skirts and jackets). She is extremely generous and wants me to take all the good stuff she has. Our shopping expeditions continue; movies have got added. We laugh, do our nonsense gimmicks, buy and do things that make us happy and pamper ourselves . I tease her till she gets hiccups. Oh yes, and we do photo-shoots now. When I go to meet her, as my Nana says, she’ll forget the whole of Bombay!
She’s a big girl now. Somewhere, I still treat her like a 4 year old. I remember each and every moment with her. I remember the things she used to say, the way she used to laugh and her cute goof ups. I don’t know how much she adores me but I adore her like crazy. She’s probably the most important person in my life today and one of the best friends I have.
PS: She’s Aditi. My cousin 🙂