Thursday, April 7, 2011

Phoenix En Pointe

Asawari, Disciple of Malti Shyam at her Manchpravesh
It was a busy time in the life of this young family. Several projects were afoot.

The father’s professional consolidation, a mother who had gone back to studying, working, freelancing and there was the two year old, setting off in style for time out at Nina Auntie’s day-care. While all the juggling, adjusting and trundling ahead was happening down here on the terra firma; unknown to these three, a stellar alignment had shifted gear in the blue yonder. Several souls had lined up for prospective tenures on earth and the Creator’s eyes had come to rest on the most energetic, most supple and curliest mop-head ever. I do believe He then cast one disdainful glance at all the “ardaas and puja paath” afoot down here for a grandson, harrumphed and made a decisive note against her name: Harpal and Neerja.

This delightful replica of her father’s face, complete with his wild hair and a penchant for tying herself up in knots was jettisoned forthwith. She still wore the cosmic ID, a tiny round wrist band that read d/o Sqn. Ldr. Harpal Singh when she landed in the SCBU or the Special Care Baby Unit of the Command Hospital, Pune.

Wing Commander De had to have been the busiest gynaecologist in that hospital back then. A contingent from the local Air Force base, four strong, kept him particularly engaged. The community vehicle would cart this fertile bunch right into the maternity OPD at periodic intervals. The good doctor would emerge from his office, take one look at them, all placid, contented, smiling and turn on his heels, grumbling good naturedly under his breath, “Good heavens! Does this base not keep their pilots busy enough?!”

And now on the 18 Aug, at 8.59 am, while this chosen little culmination of those trips rested in her crib, her mother was emerging from an anaesthetic haze in the post operative room. She groggily focused on the huge bunch of red roses atop the bedside window ledge, slowly registering the light stroke on her forehead, “She is just like Aqseer”, he was whispering.

The Crew Room bulletin board in the squadron that day read, “Harp, two Marutis down!”

Like Phoenix, the mythical bird, her fragile frame held no indication of the long and hard flight she would embark on, years later in life. Terrified of crushing her on the hospital bed at that moment, her mother lay  frozen, staring open mouthed at this delicate titbit of a gift from the heavens. "What a beauty", she thought to herself, smiling at the warm thought that the family somehow seemed complete now.The first of the baby’s quietly assertive wails dragged her back from this self congratulatory reverie.

It was a bustling ward, what with an ambulance birth, infantile jaundice and brand new babes trying out their larynges. Aqseer would walk into all this in her mismatched set of clothes, leading a sheepish grandmother who did not have the heart to interfere with her adventurous mix and wear. Preliminaries over, she would make a dive for her mother’s house slippers; “Put them on! Let’s go home.”

Although “Maniyaar” was the name originally intended for the newborn, her Sikh naming ceremony threw up the alphabet “A” and Asawari was off to a start. She had some signature moves, to begin with. Yogic in appearance, it was hard to tell where Asawari began and where she ended every time she struck one of these poses. She was also plagued by onomatopoeia, “double u bubble u” being a favourite. One wondered if there was a past life connection with the country across the border. Five times at the very least, five times a day, this spinning little packet would flop to the ground, just like that. There she would be on the floor, bent over in a no holds barred sign of protest. When a hush fell over the house, one knew that Asawari had docked in front of an open refrigerator. And oh the soulful reproach in those almond eyes, reserved for the mother, over the maid’s shoulder, on way out of the door for an hour’s airing......
Asawari powered her kinaesthetic talent with a strong internalization. A hungry sponge for skills, Mr Bean and Takeshi’s Castle. she gave the Hanah Montana phase a bit of a wide berth, coming to rest on the Shiv Naresh sports attire. At teen gatherings, she would come into her own only after the departure of the Ryan, Seth and Summer clones, finally getting up to shoot baskets or soak a tip or two on drumming. Her mother would meanwhile be driving home, radar on high alert, expecting that call any minute, a mere thirty minutes after drop off, “I am done here!”

Her grit, perseverance and a never say die spirit has taken her where she is today.

It has been 222 days, 10 hours, 22 minutes and 11 seconds since we saw her last.
There are 77 days 14 hours 38 minute and 49 seconds left to give her a tight hug again.

Asawari: our Phoenix, our very own, home grown firebird! 

Asawari dancing Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) with IFBC

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