Nandini, fondly addressed as ‘En’ amongst friends is a spirited, 27 year old, girl-next-door. A go-getter, and an achiever, she still remains a complete ‘heart’ person, never letting us forget about the smaller joys of life. In the fifth part from the series of ‘A day in the life of En’, enjoy another slice of life story as she traces back memories and people from a distant past.
It was one of those days for En when she had exhausted a day of her annual leave on doing something completely unproductive. Standing before the mirror, she asked herself, ‘And why did I exactly do that?’ Much to her dismay, the mirror couldn’t speak.
So yes, that weekday afternoon, En found herself welcoming home this annoying cousin of hers, whom she hadn’t seen in the last fourteen years. He comfortably made his way to her apartment, with three large suitcases and a backpack. En had no option but to greet him with a smile, as broad as she could. And assure him, it wasn’t going to be a bother to have him around. Hell yeah! It was already. So much for despising hypocrites all her life!
The sight of him, threw open so many questions in her mind. Most importantly, ‘Am I that easily gullible?’ One phone call from Maa and there she was, entertaining this twenty one year old, very irritating cousin. And that was not it. En was also supposed to be his helping aid, his city guide, and if need be, his personal financier.
Through the course of the day, he kept asking her about things that were not only pesky, but also lame. Where’s the washroom? Do you have a maid? When did you exactly shift base? What were your dreams then? How far is Churchgate station? What time is good to visit Juhu Beach? Are people in Mumbai spiritual? Each time addressing her as ‘Nandini didi’. The sound of which was nearly driving En, up the wall. She thought she was going to choke and it was still Day 1. By the end of the day, she had decided to set the record straight. In a rather high pitch, she spoke, “No one calls me that. Just call me ‘En’”.
He looked at her astonished and nodded his head in approval.
Days passed by and one evening when the much-despised cousin, Amol was sharing the dinner table with En at the local Chinese joint, he mentioned that he couldn’t have been more grateful to her and that he really owed her this dinner. He paid the bill and announced that he was moving in to the boys hostel, closer to the college. En suddenly found herself swallowing on the mukhwaas she had greedily grabbed on her way out. The walk back home seemed longer than usual. They engaged in chatter all along, as the heaviness in En’s heart grew deeper. The two of them were laughing about old stories, relatives and life in general.
Amol: But seriously, don’t you think ‘En’ is such a wannabe name? ‘Nandini’ has so much more character.
En: So you think I lack character?
Amol: I wouldn’t know that. I’m your brother!
En was running after Amol in a careless fashion as they both raced towards home, and finally hit the couch, gasping for breath.
In the next few days, Amol left for his new abode. En’s little pad now seemed spacious but hollow.
She was standing once again before the mirror, probing. Asking herself, ‘Why did I think he was annoying? Well, he had thrashed a huge basketball onto my favourite ice cream, some fourteen years ago. A memory I had held on to so strongly, that it became the only memory of his, for all these years. But this young boy, had managed to pave his way through my narrow mind, and emerged victorious. He had managed to find a place in my heart, by breaking through the shackles of an old ridiculous recollection.’
En felt silly and ashamed for having wasted so much time holding on to a belief that was hardly true. He wasn’t annoying. He was like any of us at twenty one. Youthful, carefree, vibrant, bustling with energy and ideas. Yet, what set him apart was his sensitivity and candour.
That summer, En saw new changes happening around the city. And also, in her head. She realised that it’s not about making new room for people, but about leaving that door open for people to walk into your life.
[Maa ~ Bengali word used to address ‘mother’. didi ~ Bengali word used to address an ‘older sister’. mukhwaas ~ Indian concept of an after mint.
* To read more stories from the En series, simply select ‘A day in the life of En’ in the Categories section on your right.]
Nandini, fondly addressed as ‘En’ amongst friends is a spirited, twenty seven year old, girl next door. A go-getter, and an achiever, she is a reminder to all of us, never letting us forget about the smaller joys and humble beginnings. In the fourth part from the series of ‘A day in the life of En’, watch her discover a new shade to herself as she realises the gift of a life and what are the possibilities that lie before us to make each moment worthy.
En was back in her hometown, Kolkata, to spend the long weekend with family. It had been eight long months since she was trying to keep the promise she had made to her mother to come home and help her, dye her hair. Weekends had passed by and months together. En had been busy increasing the profits of her company and fuelling an over hungry appetite for the material needs of a good life.
Now that En was engaged in covering salt and peppered streaks of the most adorable fifty five year old she knew, she looked around to find that missing someone. She was hoping to see the familiar face all of the last two days. Even though the person in question was annoying, she had warmed up to the idea of his presence constantly around her, through all her growing up years. With lanky hands and legs, he had troubled her all through her childhood, pulling on her pigtails and drawing funny faces on the outside wall. She had hated every minute she had spent with him and he enjoyed bullying her around as much as she despised it all.
He had ruined every great moment for her, including her first attempt at draping a saree, her first time baking a cake and also her first date with the boy from the army school. He was the omnipresent parasite in her life that she had never found a perfect cure for.
There were always more stories of disaster attached to him than sweet memories. But what she hated the most about him was, how much her parents adored him. This made her often wonder if they had a really weird side to them which only surfaced occasionally. She had never quite found an appropriate answer to that one, though she had explored every possibility there could be. And suddenly, as her mother shifted herself to the other side, En was broken from the chain of thoughts running rapidly inside her head. She was thrown back to the silence. The house seemed too quite to be comfortable.
En’s mother was getting tired of the stillness herself. She had looked forward to a time like this with her daughter for over months now. Not trying to maintain the quiet any more, she asked, “Nandini, you must be thinking of Ranjit.”
And before En could express surprise or think about diverting the subject, she was interrupted again. “He died last month in Saudi Arabia, working in an oil mine…”
As her mother continued narrating the incident in detail and about the trauma his family went through, Nandini could hear the words just as a distant sound, hard to comprehend. She was transported to a different time.
As she sat packing her suitcase to travel to the city of her dreams, Mumbai, she was constantly being irritated by the greatest pest she knew. He delayed every action of her, causing panic and annoyance, just before she was about to leave.
And in his trademark style, Ranjit had asked her then, “So moti, what would it take for you to marry me?”.
Not drawing any seriousness to his intention, she had retorted, “May be, if you went and worked in an oil mine in the Gulf.”
To which, he had said, “Is that all?… Aah that’s simple.”
En had laughed aloud and said, “Let’s see, if you come back alive from there.”
That was exactly eight months back. He was standing before her in flesh and blood. Alive. She could hit him if she had to. Now, she just stood in a pool of questions, not knowing what to feel worst about. Playing the fool on him and asking him to go and work in a place where he was almost certain to die or about not having the heart to understand his emotions or about not being nice to him for the last time she could ever see him. For not being nice to him ever.
moti ~ Hindi word for ‘fat’. In this context, lovingly/teasingly used to irritate the person.
Here is Nandini, making an appearance once again on my blog. The third episode from the series of ‘A day in the life of En’. Some more slice of life instances from a girl who’s fondly known as ‘En’ amongst friends. Caught between a past and the present, watch Nandini battle it through like a braveheart one more time.
En was enjoying her free time at home, painting her toe nails. Right then, there was a knock on the door.
‘What timing!’ she thought.
Peering through the peep hole, she was trying to catch a glimpse of someone who was relatively shorter. A few strands of hair is all that caught her eye.
She tried harder by standing on her toes this time, avoiding the paint from getting smudged in the struggle. Still nothing.
She was a little skeptical now to open the door, ‘Is there someone really that short? or is someone just playing a prank?’ She was dreading the latter. Lost deep in thought, she heard the knock again, this time shaken and left more cold. She thought to herself, ‘Should I?’
With her heart beating heavily, she looked at the broken chain hanging over the knob on her door thinking, ‘I should get that one repaired… What have I been thinking?’
Slowly, En opened the door and there stood the biggest surprise. A little angel fallen from above. She looked at En with the most loving eyes En had ever seen. And a question shot right back at her, as the little girl uttered, “Who are you?”
En smiled and thought to herself, how she had never managed to find the perfect answer to that one. She replied, “I don’t know… Who do you think?”
The little girl looked deep into En’s eyes and retorted, “My guardian angel.”
En had heard that before. She took a closer look at the kid standing before her in a lavender layered dress, and within an instant, flashbacks flooded her vision. She was all of six years of age, walking through a lonely corridor, and right then, a known face had appeared and offered to help. Holding his hand firmly, she had repeated after him… ‘You’re my guardian angel’.
Still shaken from the horrors of the events that had followed, where she was not just stripped off her clothes, but also her dignity, En was broken from her thoughts as she stared at the vacant corridor before her. The little girl was gone. She had outgrown the frilly dresses, but the wounds had grown deeper with age too.
En stood there with a face that had been drained out of expression. Quietly turning back, she shut the door behind her, telling herself, ‘That’s the last time I’m speaking to that empty corridor’.
I bring Nandini back to you. The second episode in the series.
Fondly called ‘En’ amongst friends. All of 27 years of age and raring to go, it’s hard to fail someone who’s so spirited. Meet her as she reflects light and hope at every step of the way.
On a lazy Sunday morning, lost deep in thought about what’s happening with the global recession, En had finally found her ray of radiance in the wisdom called ‘hope’. They say, there is always positively a light at the end of the tunnel, and the hope of finding it can never let you down. En was trying to apply that theory to her life as she sat looking outside, curled up like a like a 5-year old, with the sunshine peering through the leafy shade before her. For precisely 4 minutes, until her phone rang and she was brought back to the world of technology, gigabytes, nano chips et al, disconnecting her from the more important pleasures of life. She was now staring at her phone in bewilderment for a full 10 seconds. Some one had mischievously changed the ring tone to ‘Abe phone utha nah! Hee… haw… haw…’ But the hope of hearing from a friend on the other side held greater meaning at that point. She seemed to be applying the ‘be positive’ factor to almost everything around her.
A few minutes in to the conversation, she heard him say, “I can’t afford to fall in love right now!” Her heart ached to the realisation of seeing her friend still so heart broken from his past relationship, but as she dwelled deeper in to the conversation, she discovered what he was meaning. He literally couldn’t afford to fall in love in times of an economic downturn like this. En was now getting used to the idea of holiday plans being postponed, wedding plans being postponed, having-a-baby plan being postponed and the more recent addition to it, ‘falling in love’ plan being postponed. She had heard her friend laugh aloud when she had retaliated saying, ‘It’s the best time to fall in love and get married you see… Women will finally marry for love.’
Her friend was amazed at this most unique take on recession. He had said, ‘Tell me En, you never run out of that jar of hope, do you?’ En was smiling to herself in oblivion looking out of that window again, thinking ‘No. I never will.’ Smilingly she looked at the piece of paper in her hand, a two-week notice from her company.
Nandini. Fondly called ‘En’ amongst friends. All of 27 years of age and raring to go. Takes life in her stride and nothing, I mean nothing can fail her. Supremely confident about her self, a good daughter to her parents and very very popular amongst friends. You will meet En in all her avatars and see her frequently appearing on my blog from time to time.
“Hyperventilated parents. Annoying aunties. Gossip aunties. Show-off cousins. Confused guests. Gatecrashers. Ill-mannered waiters. Accusing brother-in-law’s wife’s mother. I had to constantly keep reminding myself that it’s ‘me’ who’s getting married.” That was all the light hearted conversation En was having with her friend, Priya who had just tied the knot.
She took a sip of her Cappuccino, looked at En and said, “Are you deciding to get hitched sometime soon?” En was now looking at one of her closest friends with a great deal of resentment as she continued, “You must meet this friend of mine… he seems perfect for you.” En wondered to herself, ‘Did she not say, exactly 10 minutes back about how it should be ‘your’ wedding?’ But that was not all, Priya was now ranting about how En’s biological clock was ticking and that she should put everything else to rest to look for ‘the’ man. Now, En had no clue whether she would even like this guy or no… but one thing that she was close to being sure was that, she liked her friend a lot less in the last 10 minutes.
And as she kept raving about this ‘dude’, came the more interesting part in the conversation. Priya ran her through a complete detailed background history, talking about his education… which school he went to, his current job profile… how he started his career… where… why… the place he’s based in and how he’s traveled through India, thanks to his father’s transferable job, how he has a hang of En’s culture because he’s lived for 3 years in Kolkata, from age 1 – 4, can you beat that? And then all she had to do, was utter those golden words, “He’s very handsome”. En just kept looking at her, wondering.
She was having a feeling of déjà vu… Barely 24 hours back, En had had a similar conversation with her dad, where he went on about this ‘oh-so-handsome’ Bong guy. I think what was scaring En the most was the word ‘handsome’. She was thinking to herself how the term ‘handsome’ was quite literally old-fashioned. By handsome one would imagine a guy to be tall and fair with a hairstyle that used to be ‘in’ in the Eighties, the ones Moms would like. And as if there was a hidden meaning between those words – ‘He could be a con artist, a wife-beater, a porn star or even a pauper for all you care, but thou shall not compromise on good looks’. In amusement En had stared at her father, thinking how as parents they always kept us away from the idea of ‘boys’ through our adolescent years and now the very people were pushing us towards any random man, even they knew little about, with so much confidence to spend the rest of our lives. ‘Isn’t that weird?’, En had asked herself the question just yesterday, and there she was looking at her friend, still talking about how this guy is so cut for her… ‘How would she know that… Huh? And what’s this big deal about ‘the age’… like it’s a flight to eternity that you’re almost about to miss which will otherwise change your whole life’. She thought to herself, ‘Well, yes, if I don’t get married to a guy who’s so good looking, of course, my image long enough to last a lifetime, would be jeopardised. I would be known as the girl who made the worst decision of her life, or worse still, I would be known as the wife of an ugly man. Oh my god! That would be terrible’. She chuckled.
Hence, the idea of mentally marrying this handsome man who’s sole mission was to be born to marry En, made her spring out of her seat for a meeting with an imaginary dentist. Cavities or no cavities, a dentist is always a good excuse, or so she thought. And there went Priya again, “Oh by the way, I think I forgot to add, his older brother’s wife is a very good dentist. Maybe you could see her.”