The Jhilmil and Barfi I knew
Just like its namesake from the celluloid world, the obscure yet a dear memory was fluttering its dust and taking me into that world of yore. Where there’s joy abandon and life was carefree as the aimless little butterfly.
It’s the only world I knew. Full of life, verve, sounds and colours! Brimming with ever-flowing love and undying dreams! Only that I truly realised what it was until I grew up, the world I had seen through her eyes.
She was my first friend and probably my first love affair with life and I am proud that she, no matter where or how she is now, is already a part of my life, my identity. After all, she gave me my name!
When you are different, the world treats you differently. Despite being in her late teenage years and quite older to children around her, she never got the “respect” of the elder, always being addressed by her first name (it is not common in Indian families to call someone elder to you by their first name only, sans an appropriate suffix). Even her younger siblings, my brother and I as well followed suit. But I chose to believe it was because she could be any age if she likes, she was best friends with a new born, a toddler and then a school-going kid. She didn’t have any other playmates or friends if you count our species. She had loads in the open fields, in the backyards and in the beautiful gardens that adorned our adjacent houses. And she had just me !
For all her vivacity and eloquence, “Kuni” was an autistic teenager, deaf and mute too.
It all started before I even realised to take baby steps. Growing up in a family crowded with siblings, she was the saviour from my naughty brothers who used to get some sadistic pleasure making me cry. I ended up spending time counting centipede legs, digging earthworms, catching butterflies, planting seeds, petting insects, feeding tadpoles and imitating birds; all in a gentle and exquisite way that she showed me. We would sing, jump, roll over grass, climb trees and build nests and tree houses all day and count fireflies and stars with equal abandon in the night. She was magical and knew the whole wide world around us like no one did. When flowers would bloom, when caterpillars turn to butterflies and where the red velvet “Sadhaba Bohu”s (red velvet mites) go all year to appear magically during the rains. She was the one who would hear tirelessly to what I did in school the whole day and show me her diary full of pictures. She was the sister I never had. Or I always had during my growing up years.
My parents say, when she used to play with me when I was just few months old, she would call me “Ti..Ti” . Hence I was christened “Titin” (no I never read Tintin during my childhood).
Here’s to the Jhilmil and Barfi of my life – thanks to you Kuni, I have really never grown up and I don’t intend to!
PS: For friends who expected a review of Barfi! , maybe I will try and write one soon. Not that words can do justice to this magical experience!
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