One little squirrel


My little girl and I LOVE squirrels.

They are tiny, quick-witted, fast-moving, with long swishy tails and perky little faces dotted with dark, shiny eyes and tiny o mouths.

Our neighbour whose courtyard is flooded with sunlight for nearly as long as the sun is in the sky has over many weeks and months got a loyal following of a large group of squirrels.

She feeds them peanuts and grains and sometimes even makes them special rotis often embarrassing her teenaged children’s sense of cool.

We went to join her one afternoon and were soon surrounded by these little darting creatures to little T’s delight.

But since they hadn’t yet made an acquaintance with her, they sped away the moment she tried feeding them peanuts after prising open their shells after long spells of concentration and effort.

She looked up at me and asked – ‘why aren’t they stopping for me?’

‘They dont know you yet, T, and maybe they are scared you may harm them,’ I replied.

‘But all I want to do is feed them, mamma! And I LOVE them! How can they not know??’

Well…what could I say?

Our neighbour intervened helpfully and suggested – ‘why dont you stand close to me, and try not moving too much, they may come to you then’.

And happen it did. First one little furry creature and then another and then a little crowd of them came towards T, emboldened by her staying impressively still and her clutching on to a fist full of peanuts.

Once they came closer, she too felt more confident and knelt down to prise open peanut shells and then proceeded to make little squishy bits of them ‘because their mouths are SO small’.

One little squirrel whom she nicknamed Tum Tum then proceeded to come and eat exactly those little bits that T had so lovingly made bite-size for him/her.

The joy of that communion!

Nothing comes close to the delight of seeing young children and the younglings of other creatures play together – without props, without gadgets, without prompting, without pre-set rules and even in a way without the expectation of wanting to repeat what had happened in exactly the same place or same way.

Thank god for kind and generous neighbours, the sun, squirrels, peanuts and little ones.

Celebrating ceremony


On festivals, birthdays and other anniversaries that marked our lives, my father would wake up earlier than usual to have a bath (or shower, as is known in most other parts of the world) after which he considered himself ready for the rest of the morning.

Although he didn’t care a hoot for any of the other prescriptions that he grew up with, this was one rule that was close to his heart. That one was not really fit to greet the world, until one had bathed away the night’s langour.

On such special days, before he went in for his bath, he would hover around his cupboard housing his neatly stacked rows of kurtas. And after some deliberation and sometimes consultation first with my mother and then me he would decide on the one that he thought best suited the occasion and his mood on the day.

At the time, all this deliberation used to crack us up. It was like watching a royal production that took its time and came on stage only when its sole actor felt really prepared for the lights.

But now, when I look back on it, I feel fond and proud — and deeply grateful to have grown up around someone like him who taught me to look for and respect detail; to value deliberations — and to give my all in marking special days for myself and those around me.