“Ma! Why does everybody call me MESSY? I don’t like it! ” Misry complained.
Madhavi finished her evening prayers and looked at the child standing by the door with a scornful look on her face. Her long curls doing very little to hide the expression on her small round face.
“Come here my love. Tell me, what is bothering you?” Madhavi replied stretching her arms. Misry didn’t waste a minute and hugged her mother.
“Ma, Raju keeps calling me MESSY. Now the others too have started calling me the same. I am warning you, I will kill Raju.” Misry cried.
Madhavi kissed her and said, “Ok I will tell him, not to bother you anymore. But you too promise me that you will obey him. After all, he is much older to you.”
“But he plays with me and rides my bicycle too.” Misry nagged.
“Just to give you company, sweetheart. You see you have no friends here to play with. If Raju does not play then you will be bored, my child. ” Madhavi reminded her.
Misry thought for a while then replied, “Phulwa and Bheeru are my friends. I can play with them.” She looked very convinced.
“Yes you can. But you see dear they are civilians and not allowed inside the campus. And I cannot allow you to go out of the campus premises.” Madhavi replied.
“But I shall go tomorrow. Bheeru’s goat has given birth to three kids. I want to see them.” Misry begged her mother.
Madhavi knew it will be too hard to stop her little daughter when it comes to animals. Her daughter had inherited her love for animals from her Dadu, who owns a big farm house full of animals in a sleepy town in the outskirts of Howrah.
“Fine. Go in the morning tomorrow.” Madhavi replied.
Misry kissed her mother and ran off to play with her toys.
Madhavi sighed. Life was very different since they shifted to the border out post. Misry was missing both her friends and school. She was five years old and loved being in a big family. Madhavi had moved to her parent’s house for her delivery. Misry was born there and spent her growing years in her Dadu’s house. She was always surrounded with cousins, aunts and uncles and not to mention the animals for company.
Misry’s father, Anurag, worked in B.S.F and work kept him away from family for long time. So it was not possible for him to take care of his pregnant wife. Hence he had sent his wife to her parent’s place. Misry was born there. Anurag used to visit them quite often.
When Misry was three years old Madhavi moved in with her husband. At that time Anurag was stationed in the Head Quarter and thus the family had good time for the next two years. But soon Anurag was stationed in the border outpost.
The border outposts are situated near international borders. Anurag was stationed in a small village near the Indo-Bangladesh border in Bihar. During that era, the officers were allowed to keep their family along in the border outpost. Since Misry was too young, there was no point in leaving his family alone in the Head Quarter. So Madhavi shifted in with her husband away from the pleasures of Movie Theater, big markets, weekly markets, welfare association, ladies club, parties and above all electricity.
It was the era when TV had not invaded our lives. And tape recorder and stereo were still considered a luxury. The comfort of electricity was limited to a mere an hour or two in the evening and that too by a generator for the residence. Rest of the evening, the rooms would lit up with the dim lights of the lanterns and lamps.
The family sat together around it and spent time chatting with each other. Sometimes, they would even indulge in listening to the plays on the radio or sing folk songs or movie songs together. And there was plenty of time to watch the night sky. It was the activity Misry enjoyed most with her father lying on the cot in the backyard and counting the satellites or listenening to stories from him. She also loved wearing her half saree and dance to the music on the record player.
As Anurag had night duties quite often, Madhavi had invited her younger sister Pallavi, who had just finished college, to stay over until her marriage was fixed by her parents. Pallavi readily agreed and was escorted by her nephew Raju, who had failed twice in his metric examination and showed no interest in studying further. Misry loved their company in the house and so did her parents.
And thus Misry alias Messy lived happily with her family and friends in a world that she believe existed and kept the adults, in the household, on their toes always till they shouted on top of their voice, “GROW UP MESSY”.
*Glossary: Dadu – Maternal grandfather.