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.