Part 7 - Life Lessons
“Oh my little Rajinda, yes, Bapu’s home my sweet,” the man virtually cooed to
his pre-adolescent namesake.
“Maataa, Maataa, Bapu’s home!” the young girl called as she dragged her father
along by the sleeve of his suit towards the kitchen where her mother had been
busy preparing the evening’s meal.
“Raj, I didn’t expect you so early.”
Indeed, he had returned home earlier than planned, but after the turn of the
day’s events, he was excited at the prospect of getting home as quickly as
possible; nothing would suit him more than to be in a simpler place and time and
home life always afforded him that much welcomed possibility.
“You look worn out, my love… difficult day?”
Shikha smoothed her husband’s hair and helped him to ease his suit jacket from
his shoulders. Once she had been satisfied that he was comfortably seated in the
nearby easy chair, she retrieved his slippers from its usual storing place,
brought forth a basin with water and a towel and proceeded to bare, wash and
massage her husband’s feet. He relaxed into the warm spicy scent of the
armchair, ran his hand gently over his wife’s wavy hair, and let the worries of
the day dissipate without struggle into the evening air; moments such as these
always seemed to provoke such a response in him as well as his eternal
“Usual day at the office.”
Shikha looked up at her husband and smiled. He had always made it a habit to
leave work at work and she had always considered that a wise decision on his
part; she was certain that having home so separate from work was the key to
their longstanding happiness and satisfying home life. Hungry for more warmth,
he pulled her up towards him into a sensual embrace and made no effort to
restrain his desire to ravish the soft painted lips that dared to brush against
his. Rajinder rolled her eyes at the scene that had presented itself before her
each and every time that her Bapu and Maataa would meet; ‘soppy but sweet’ were
the words that now came to her preadolescent mind, ‘soppy but sweet’. Her
parents’ seemingly unbridled affection for each other was always a source of
pride even when her friends would make fun of their untraditional public
displays. Watching them together filled Rajinder with a sense of security which
was only equaled by the joy she felt in knowing that daily she would be showered
by their love and care.
“Oh Bapu,” she gently chided. “Maataa, there is a child in the room.”
“And I think this child just wants a hug too!” Raj proposed opening his arms to
beckon her in. “Group hug!”
“Oh you are so silly,” Rajinder muttered, but she did not waste a moment in
rushing over to join in on the open show of affection.
And so was the state of harmony in the Sharma household. Mother and father had
met when they were in their early 20’s at university. Their romance was
chemical, the planning for a life together organized, and their devotion to
family and peace clearly communicated one to the other right from the very
start. The outcome: years filled with nothing but good things and the raising of
a cheerful and extroverted daughter. In fact, Rajinder and Shikha always made it
a daily habit to count their blessings, and as they settled down to bed that
night, Shikha nestled into her husband’s arms (just as she had done on every
other night of their married life) and whispered, “Life is good.”
“Life is good,” Raj contently whispered back just moments before the telephone
rang disturbing their customary reverie.
Shikha raised her head and looked up at her husband.
“I wonder who that could be.”
Raj looked over at the phone; it was a call that he had to receive. He kissed
his wife tenderly on her forehead in a last bid to make the moment go on
forever, and reached over to retrieve the phone.
“Yes, Mr. Brandman.”
to change the background image for the story
Long video documentary, but excellent, in my
humble opinion. Also, note that items written in white were taken either
directly (or paraphrased to fit the dialogue) from this
“Oh my goodness!
Can’t believe I didn’t check to see if Vidou had arrived safe and sound!”
“Vidouchaka, Maude,” Bette clarified as she stifled a laugh. She always found it
so endearing the way Peaches would in an instant give everything a pet name,
even their homes had borne such spontaneous labels, but she also knew of the
intensity of the feelings the young one bore towards that particular object; it
was not just an Indian puppet, a mere jester, it was more importantly, a gift
from her long-absent mother.
“Vidou!” Maude exclaimed smiling brightly.
“Yes, Mother. He looks so much more like a Vidou than a Vidouchaka. Don’t you
“Yes, my love. I have to say that I do,” Maude confirmed with both her words and
a gentle pat on the young girl’s shoulder.
“Shall I go fetch him? Since everything was so nicely unpacked and there was so
much to see when I woke up in that fabulous room, I had completely forgotten
about Vidou. I brought him along,” Peaches added unashamedly, though she didn’t
care to confess just in that moment that since she had been given the doll it
hadn’t spent much time out of her presence.
Truth be told, the young girl found that she quite enjoyed the musty, cumin
scent that emanated from the multi-colored costume, and she would often bury her
face in its folds and breathe in deeply to gain the full experience of it. At
night, it had become as her pillow, a sleep essential that brought with it
adventuresome dreams filled with images of a life lived with her new-found
mother in distant, exotic Asian lands. Bette, who had been Peaches’ lifelong
guardian quickly made note of this close bond between marionette and human. She
also had had her experience of “Vidou” much earlier on back in Scotland when she
too had wondered, “Vidou?” Peaches had explained then to her aunt, a woman who
had been her closest companion for a lifetime and a trusted confidante, about
the significance of that gift: about how it made her feel; about how just
holding it and smelling it made her feel a closeness with her mother that she
had not experienced in all the years past; about how the doll had brought her
dreams of a time to come, “of a life full of adventure in a foreign land with
“Of course, my love, and then I will tell you one of the stories from the
Mahabharata that I think you might enjoy.”
With a hop and a skip, Peaches made her way from the small maroon trimmed
theatre where they had been watching the film and went quickly to her bedroom to
retrieve the beloved Vidou.
“I had no idea.”
“Oh yes, seems your daughter is quite taken with Monsieur Vidou,” Bette smiled
jovially at the red-headed woman who was looking over at her with such an
innocent look of amazement on her face that she couldn’t help but enjoy the
pleasantries of the moment.
“You mean Shri Vidou!”
“What was that?”
“Just a title of respect that they use for men in Hindi.”
“Oh, you do say! Of, course, of course, Shri Vidou it must be!” Bette responded
with an elaborate kowtow to the absent but honored marionette, a gesture which
immediately left both women speechless and bent over holding their tummies, lost
to the release to be found in curative fits of laughter.
It was an incredible moment of bonding for the two, women who had known each
other for years who, nonetheless, had never seemed to manage to let their hair
down one in front of the other. For all that time of knowing, Maude, in Bette’s
eyes, had remained the beautiful, treasured but delicate, aloof and demanding
“ice Madame” while Maude’s barely submerged jealousies about Bette’s knowledge,
organizational and mothering skills had continuously alienated her from the
possibility of ever truly calling the other woman friend.
“Did I miss something? Mother, Aunt Bette?” Peaches enquired, excitement and
curiosity brimming in her eyes, as she returned to the room shortly thereafter
with the prized Vidou lovingly held to her breast.
“Oh nothing, doll,” Maude answered as she worked to calm her laughter, wiping
the glee-filled tears from her eyes with one hand while beckoning the teen over
with the other.
And so their night continued: Maude regaling her two companions with exciting
stories from the Mahabharata using the honorable “Shri Vidou” in her elaborate
demonstrations; Peaches seated by her side taking everything in, wide-eyed,
contented and full of wonder; and Maude using that opportunity to fully revel in
the pleasures of time spent in togetherness. On the other hand, in the two
remaining hours of the trio’s stay in the theatre – though bent on merry-making
they had not noticed in the least – Bertie, the patriarch of that happy clan,
had remained strangely absent.
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* Quote on background picture is from ...