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Hand in hand for eternity

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dad's Diary 4 - Agneya aka Agni aka Gungun aka Guni - My Fire


Sparkling whiteness interrupted by a hint of rusty reddish fluidity caved into a black mouth that gobbled up the last vestige of my precious possession – a touch and a smell. The pounding of the washing machine matched my heart's beating that created an uncontrollable fluttering murmur in it.

Agni flaunting a new dress when she was 3 months
She had embraced me tightly, her soft weightless hands on my shoulders, her cheek on mine, as she whispered the oft-repeated avowals with the newest of bewitching tunes - “I love you, I miss you.” My shirt collar quivered under the impact of the whisper. And now the pounding mechanical demon in which my shirt was being washed, was beating the touch and the smell, pouring torrents of water to wash a tear away.

But the memory lingers. The God's own machine that this body is lovingly preserves such moments. “Know wherever there is a spark of unselfish love, I am there,” the universal Flute Player assures, “for I am that spark of love.” Undiminished, unceasing, that will stay with me as an infinite moment caught within the finite-web of life.

She is an all absorbing flame flickering out caressing moments of warmth to beat the cold of this life, announcing her presence with unceasing rapture, “Are you happy?”, “Are you OK?”. Even a trace of sadness triggers off these non-stop queries till she sees a smile, and is satisfied of a job well done. Then she adds, “I love you,” “I miss you,” with unfailing regularity.

She is Agneya aka Agni and Gungun aka Guni, my nearly 22-month old granddaughter, as of now the last of our three grandchildren. She is flame, whisper, skillful, as her names suggest, all rolled into one.  

Just the right fit
Surprisingly a super quick learner, she walked, skipping crawling altogether, up to her bedroom door when she was 6-month old, and issued a guttural sound to make her presence felt. Later we learned to identify the sound to her being angry. Today her anger is expressed by an emphatic 'uhh ohh' that she is fond of uttering it to all and sundry.  

Seized by uhh-ohhing mood, she chooses a victim to dampen his or her mood. If the victim does not break down in tears, she orders, “start to cry.” Obliging her guarantees the victim a warm hug accompanied by soothing, “I love you, I miss you.”   

She learned to use action words with alacrity, “Are you cooking? I am playing.” After her efforts lead to make a statement like, “I am 'funnying' in the shower,” while taking a bath, she receives the correction with great aplomb, “OK,” she says seriously. But 'aich-em” for elephant and 'gibal' for giraffe, two of her earliest tongue twisting utterances, still remain. 'Krincho' to Krishna took a couple of days, and had come to stay.

With her favorite teddy
Once Guni found me reading a book at a time she was obsessed about asking questions of all sorts. “Are you booking?” she asked me. Anxious to finish the paragraph I was on, I sent her out on an errand. She now had the onerous responsibility of informing her father that she was his daughter. She went muttering away, and before long she was overheard asking her father, “Are you Arijit's daughter?”

She hands me over a book. “Come on read,” she says impatiently. She listens to the unfathomable story for a while, abruptly closes the book, and, “finish,” she announces with finality. But she can detect if the reader is cheating by reading from some other materials instead of the book she had handed over. And that is not acceptable.

Ladybug on Halloween
Guni is crazy about rhymes as most babies are. But her ability to form strategies to get things done for herself is admirable. Once she had been calling me from outside the room repeatedly, which I ignored just to see what happened next. She came right up to me and rasped out, “You walk,” and then she grabbed a tiny fistful of my pajama, and led me to the TV table. There she promptly stretched out on the carpeted floor, and instructed me, “down”. I lay down beside her, and obligingly turned over. She pointed under the table, “Blue ball – bring.” I did earn a hug and a 'thank you.' 

She usually lets loose a spate of hi, hello, and  'I love yous' at malls and restaurants, but has strong liking and disliking about who is touching her. Even as my younger daughter, Kriti, ended her particularly slogging pregnancy, Joyee (my elder daughter, Swati's, first born) indiscreetly inquired, “Is she better looking than me?” Earlier she had summed up the situation, saying, her own brother, Ishaan, had robbed half of her life away, and now the “oncoming problem” would rob the other half.

When the siblings visited 2-month old Guni in the US, Joyee and Guni looked at each other with furtive side-wise glances, and Guni literally flowed into Joyee's outstretched arms. The discernible acceptance of each other was complete in a moment and all others heaved a sigh of relief.

Guni impressed Joyee so overwhelmingly that the latter blogged the following words on the former:
“You look amazing. I am the happiest elder sister to have you! You are the cutest thing I've ever seen! I am gonna be there for you always. I love you infinite.”

Showing off her first few pearls 
People often accost Guni's mother to have a better look at the child. Once I saw a man who had crossed us at a mall but had run back shouting for us to stop. “Don't be so selfish,” he had chided, “Oh! Look at those great eyes! You oughta let the world share your joy too.” It's her spectacular eyes that have stopped many a passer by in many a place. In Cleopatra's time, much less would have warranted the launching of a thousand war ships!

Her bluish gray eyeballs, encircled by a black ring, betray an oceanic depth only when she is lost in her own thoughts. At other times all kinds of truant thoughts wave up and down into them.

Leaving her in the US on coming back to India, as I stood with fluttering heart before the merciless washing machine, Guni demanded of her mother over twelve thousand aerial kilometers away, pointing to the bed I had occupied, “Sleep  ... that bed.” Did she want to extract the last ounce of my touch and smell that lingered in my bed?

BY TAPAS MUKHERJEE

30 comments:

  1. Beautiful write up and I am in love with Agni..daughters are special..cherish every moment with her..and I congratulate you Aunty..for such a wonderful post..

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  2. Hundreds of miles away from my daughter...I could suddenly feel her touch and love.You write beautifully. I'm younger than you and have not much right to say this-but God Bless You with a long long life-Vani

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  3. Thanks Alpana - this is my Dad's writing. @ Vani - thanks a ton!

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  4. Oh, I am in love, too! What a beauty! and what love eminates from this tender tribute. It is contagious.

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  5. Thank you for coming by Ardith - knew you would like this one : )

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  6. Mitr, where do I begin??? I can't see the keyboard because my tears are blinding me. Incredibly sweet, touching and so full of love, UncleJi is a magician who mesmerizes everybody and is so generous that he shares his greatest treasures with the world. Mitr, I love and miss Agni too and I haven't even met her..thanks for brightening my day.

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  7. Oh! Beautiful writing and most especially a beautiful girl! - Sherry

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  8. @ Grace - thank you so very much for dropping by and even more for your comment @ ROy - yes it is. They dote on each other - my Father and Agni

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  9. My heart grows heavy with love and sadness everytime I read this...the wonderful thing is that Guni, Jiya and Hrik will all have these stories that were so lovingly written by their grandfather all their lives, even when they are grandparents themselves. Isn't that such a beautiful thing?

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  10. @Tuds - that really is truly beautiful... @ Joyee - Dad is a great writer - there is so much to learn from him : )

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  11. So touching! And yes, her eyes are captivating! Such a beautiful child!

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  12. .. as so truly mentioned earlier you kids have the most fabulous granparents. Cherish every moment with them.......absolutely amazing UNCLE ... you rock , pls pls pls keep on writing...coz its fun reading...!!!!!KRITI your daughter is a princess...she is absolutely mersmerizing

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  13. @ Christy - thanks a ton for dropping by and even more for the compliment. @ Jyoti di - thank you thank you - Dad will be thrilled to hear from you : )

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  14. Eyes wide with wonder... Guni has stolen the hearts of many.
    What a sweet ladybug costume
    on a precious child.

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  15. Kriti, finally managed to read it. Thanks. It's so wonderful to see a child through the eyes of an "eloquent" grandparent. Like Swati says, this is a treasured piece and one that your daughter will have as a keepsake for years.

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  16. What beautiful reflections and prose. Something to cherish forever and look back on. I agree, her eyes would stop me if I was passing by...I love the line..."Cleopatra's time, much less would have warranted the launching of a thousand war ships!" Beautifully written.

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  17. A truly heart warming celebration for the gift of Agni aka Guni. A vivid image of your father standing in front of the washing machine as he watched the black mouth swallow and wash down the last traces of his youngest granddaughter's kiss and tear, came to mind undeniably when I read the opening lines of the post. Eloquently written with such deep love that in my mind's eye I could witness the becoming of this beautiful little child. Reading this piece was a real treat.

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  18. What wonderful writing paints such a vivid picture in your mind.

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  19. Thanks a ton Jim, Debra, Melsissa, Jessica, Yoshay and Charles - you guys have truly made my Dad's day. It is such a beautiful relationship - like no other - granddad and his grandchild... Thank you again for stopping by...

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  20. 2 things are clear Bapi... your loathing for the washing machine can only top Mana’s disdain for it and you miss Guni like CRAZY. She does too, if that is any comfort. The piece was very heart felt and touching. It was uniquely personal for me of obvious reasons… Thank you. I also got a feeling that there was an urgency to document everything that you cherished about being a part of Guni’s constant development. Thanks for sharing those memories with your words. Now they will live forever.

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  21. Guni is STUNNING!!!! How cute is the photo inside the Abercrombie & Fitch bag?? And the Ladybug outfit. Wonderful piece, please thank your Dad for his lovely way with words. I see where you get that gift from!!

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  22. I dreamt of your daughter last night..guess the post really had an impact and she is really cute...

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  23. Really great writing you can tell this young girls is surrounded by love

    Guni impressed Joyee so overwhelmingly that the latter blogged the following words on the former:
    “You look amazing. I am the happiest elder sister to have you! You are the cutest thing I've ever seen! I am gonna be there for you always. I love you infinite
    That was my favorite passage.

    jpweddingphotograpy.blogspot.com

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  24. @ Nina - thank you - she is really something : ) @ Priya - wow really??? what did you dream of?? @ JIm - love your detailed comments - makes my day always : ) thank you...

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  25. Hey Kriti! Just was stopping by to check you out. This was very good. And she is a very pretty and smart litlle girl. Thanks for sharing.

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  26. The love just shines through...Uncle is fabulous and reading his heartwarming post just made me think of my little girl far away in school.Agni is so blessed to have such loving, and amazing grandparents.Best wishes always!

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  27. @Ricky - you are the best thanks a ton!
    @Rima - Thanks babes for coming by and reading this! Dad is like Agni's best friend ever : ). We must get these kids together soon...

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