And so, Uranus, here we are at that golden shresht birthday hubb . I got there a few months earlier, but you knew I’d wait there at the corner till you caught up, didn’t you? I have with me every little gem that we made together, and I’m sure you do too. You started out all those years ago as the shorty sitting in the first row in the class photo, while I beamed sheepishly standing three rows behind. Niether of us noticed , when you grew those inches and when I stopped, what with my drawing a tray with two doodh pedhas and two tumblers of water on the margins of my rough notebook, pokerfaced, while you cracked up in Silvie’s class and ended up being asked to “get out of the class” for your troubles.
And how clever of you, to improvize, and inflict on Ms Jayashree the little essay in Hindi, about Deepavali ek shresht hubb hai. Kyonki hum nayi kapde pehente hai. And further, hum nayi kapde pehente hai kyonki Deepavali ek shresht hubb hai. Sigh, that must be the first of our gems, though I can scarcely remember when we got started.
Soon , though, we had everyone thinking we were twins, and we still do that even now, like when I walk into Arushi, looking at all the magic that you are making, and the nice lady draped in one of your designer sarees widens her eyes on seeing me, and asks, “your sister?”
Do you remember that time a year ago at Jeanne’s the girl giving you a pedicure asked us that question, and you , put on my poker face, and replied, “we’re twins”? And we are, too. Mostly I’m the quiet poet, and you are the charming friend magnet. Everyone wants you for a friend. And many must wonder why you have me for a friend.
But I wonder how we can be anything else. You and I, we both know there can be no better best friends than us. We have our gam-gala, and Iskanta and Ammallidoddi and a thousand things in-between to prove that. I have that mad urge to pause at the french door of that restaurant here in Herndon, and laugh like the grannies of Onida KY Thunder Series ad, rolling on the ground, thinking about a flag-march in a Jaipur Hotel that never happened.
I am sorry I have killed your love for “aye mere watan you ki logon” by saying Nehru wept because he wanted her to stop singing. But, as your best friend, your honorary twin, I knew it had to be done. Call it my revenge for shooting up and growing taller than me, if you like.
Can you think of anyone else you’d rather be with when the little Road Runner surpasses your expectations in her 12th standard results, and calm her down, soothe her,and tell her you’ll be along home immediately, hang up, and laugh, rather diabolically for a mother? Are we not the cool mother-aunt duo who do cool things and the cool things are cool because we do them?
Oh, I’ve loved our trips to Okalipuram, and can still laugh at the day when it rained on us, sitting in the back seat of the beat-up Fiat, while it respectfully bowed as it passed Basha from his window! And coming upon good old Ammallidoddi on our visit to Kabbalamma. Very naughty of you though to call out loudly to Raja and tell him, brightly, that I remembered your dad’s name for him. Kari Dore is not offended, I know, but still………….!
But it’s been a privilege to watch you grow from the lady who gave motifs and patti and talked to picky custombers politely, through clenched teeth, to the designer in demand that you are today. I have tormented you by playing it back to you after they left, but I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I haven’t yet actually heard anyone say “Nee daggara Arushi cheera leda?” but I know what I’ll say when I do.
Through school and college, you were the smart, cool lady I wanted to be. and then I saw how you were with little Jenu, the joy that you brought to being her mother, and the fierce love that drives you defend loyally everyone you hold dear, when you have to. That , I know includes me. and knowing that, I certainly don’t wish to on the other side, at the receiving end of the fireworks!
So, today, on this milestone huttid hubb, let me say, how grateful I am that we are in each other’s life, how rich I know myself to be.
Gulab jamuns shall be made today. Tale tale mein gol gol, you know, and eaten to mark the occasion, the next best thing to being there with you, and falling off the chair, laughing about nothing , and everything!