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LITTLE GIRL BLUE
I wish I could turn back the clock and STOP the wheels of time. I remember when we had the 100 meters race on sports day; how teacher stopped the watch to see the time we took to run the distance. I wish I owned such a magical stopwatch to stop time when I wanted, and reset it to keep going back to the beginning of some of the happiest times of my life.
That is what I wish for today, as I stand in my pretty new blue dress on my 8th birthday, a stop-watch with the magical powers to take me back to the time I wanted and to stop time there and not go on into the future. I especially wished now that my 5th birthday celebrations had never gotten over! I wish I could stop time at that point with this imaginary magical stop!!
Why? “Because that was the last birthday I celebrated with my father!” I do not think that he was ever in spirit with us, even then, but at least he was physically present with us. I still remember the fun time the four of us: Mom, Dad, Dheer ‘bhaiyyu’ and me had while opening my truckload of presents. I had secretly called him to come today too. I was a princess today, and everyone said I looked so pretty in my tiara. I wanted to show it off to him. He had once called me his little princess too. I stalled the cake-cutting till he came and dreamt on about that magical day.
That whole day had been magical. Mom had baked my favourite brownie which we had cut at midnight and papas voice had resounded in the night with ‘may the good lord bless you.’ Then, I had woken up to a new red bicycle with the extra side wheels to help me cycle. It was pouring cats and dogs that day but my party had been flooded not just with rain water but also with all my friends, a guest list of a whopping 100 children. And, oh boy! Did we have fun! (And pizzas and garlic bread, my hot favorite of all meals.)
I was my mummy’s ‘smiley’ baby, a precious baby,- I had come unannounced after my brother turned 10 years old. And, I was the light of her otherwise very dark life. I could see it then and I can still see it now: the way her face lights up and her eyes start smiling when she sees me.
And, she had this thing about ‘theme’ birthday parties. My first birthday had been a pink birthday party with pink invitations and pink balloons and me in a pink frilly dress. Though I don’t remember it much, the photographs show even her broken arm in a pink plaster. The second had been a ladybird theme where even the guests had turned up in black and red. She had, of course painted her black eye, red, so that it could not be seen. The third had been a Barbie theme, and my father had been too busy to attend but the fourth party had an ‘angry birds’ theme and even as a four year old baby, I remember the black angry bird shaking her up after the party till she had black & blue stripes all over her arms like the striped piglet in the angry bird movie.
This fifth ‘Smiley’ theme party had seemed a little different. because, again, it was in a restaurant with lots of mummies around and my daddy did not yell at mummy even once and I had never seen her so happy before.
Everyone had been asked to come in yellow and white as ‘smileys’ and even the balloons were yellow and white. Only I was in a Navy blue dress (my mom has this thing for the coulour blue) with white polka dots. I stood out like a navy fairy among all that yellow. Mom had got the cake covered with white fondant and yellow smiley lollipops stuck out from it. I remember blowing out the candles and wishing that every day could be as sunny as this one was even though the rains were lashing outside.
I had already got the new shiny red bicycle that I had wanted. I had heard my mom calling her sister and my granny to help with the money since papa refused to give her any. I do not remember what gift he gave me or if he ever gave me a gift but the piggy back ride on his strong shoulders made me squeal like a pig. I didn’t want any other gifts from him, just that and a smiling mummy.
I wish time had stopped then and I could pretend that Mummy and Papa were smiling like a pretend happy family like my pretend friend “Kavya” whom I played with everyday to shut out the shouting between mummy and papa.
After the party, we carried my many many presents home. There were so many. The relaxed feeling was carried over home and for once mummy didn’t get any red, blue or green coloured marks on her face or body that I could see. I could feel her fear that all would turn like before but we started tearing at wrappers, admiring the dolls, playing Uno,....... it was so much fun. I saw papa putting all the gaily colored money envelopes into his pocket and Mummy begin to say something. But one cold look from his eyes shut her up.
We played Uno and they all let me win. It was so much fun. I remember that day and night filled with fun and laughter, Smileys in the real sense.
Four months after that day, my papa left, left forever and mummy cried and cried, when she thought no one was looking. Her eyes never smiled after that. The pain in them was a pain that me and bhaiyyu shared. He made us very poor, he took away everything and I heard my granny tell my aunt that he had never wanted a girl so he would never pay for my school fees even.
It took her so long to smile again. She had had the most beautiful smile in the world and she had always smiled with her eyes and mouth and her whole body. I really miss that smile.
If we said we hated Papa, she would tell us, “he is always going to be your father, nothing can change that, so always respect him; I cannot force you to love him but you must respect him.” I had loved him and missed him so much and I think Bhaiyyu too missed him. Sometimes when mummy got angry with me or punished me for not doing my homework, I even blamed her for sending him away. It hurt her when I said that. But then, she would come and hug me and cry with me. At that time, I hated him so much, I wanted to vomit.
She used to work hard before too because she had many bills to pay that Papa did not, but now, she was always working, even in the night, and she looked so tired and we rarely played Uno like before.
Playing Uno with her and Bhaiyyu had always been a treat because she always let me win but now, like bhaiyyu, she would not let me. They said they were making me strong by teaching me how to win on my own. My dance class was changed to a Karate class. “You should be able to defend yourself, love. Never let anyone hit you. The first time someone hits you should be the last.” I missed ballet but for her smile, giving up my dancing shoes felt alright.
I often used her phone to secretly call papa to my dance recital, annual day, garba night, even my award ceremony, but he never came. He never received the calls but I think he used to read the messages because sometimes he would reply. Just this once I was hoping he had read my message and would come to see his little princess on her 8th birthday.
As I looked at the door for the umpteenth time, I saw my mummy looking at me with sad eyes. I could see tears in her eyes and I quickly ran to her. She mumbled, “Sorry dear, I don’t think he will come. Should we cut your cake or do you still want to wait?” I realized then that she had known,........ always known when I had invited Papa to my special occasions and that she had secretly wished he would come too. I suddenly felt all grown up and it hurt.....a lot.......I did not think I wanted to celebrate my next birthday.
But, I really wished that I had that stopwatch to stop the time in the past and give it back to mummy. I don’t think having papa back again would make her happy (bhaiyyu says we are better off without him) or that she was happy even then but at least, that day was one day I remembered her to be the happiest and her eyes had smiled with her mouth.