I stand outside the gate and gaze at the sea of faces coming out of the school gate. And then I spot you, busily talking to some other girls as you leave school for the day. You catch my eye and your face breaks into a smile, "Chachiii," you explode with joy, as you rush to the gate. I bundle you and your sisters into the car and we head out for a bite to eat.
How many times have we done that, Zim? And in how many places? Haldiram, Raj, SatC, even that lousy Govinda's and the dhaba where the bedbugs bit you, sometimes even Mainland China.... places I cannot remember now. I treasure the times we spent together, all of us, tearing down the roads music blasting, the swims, the drives, the mela where Dada and Isha were too scared to get onto the giant wheel, the phuchkas, even the rickshaw ride we went on the other day. So let me get that out of the way first.
I will miss you.
Cut back to 1996. You were not yet two when I saw you that first time, big button eyes peeping at me from under the curtain, yes, you were that tiny. Forever braver than your brother you never hung back, your welcoming eyes and welcoming smile made me feel at home. I warmed to you instantly. And that hug and the smile you always, always, greet me with make my world that much brighter, that much warmer. I was lucky to have you and Rubic in my life. Back then, who else could I bundle into the dicky of the van and carry along on my hare-brained adventures? (And a word here for your Mama and Baba who never stopped me from doing it!) You both were and still are the first children in my life. You always will be. And no matter how tall you grow or how much bigger Rubic gets, you'll always be those two tiny faces peeping at me from the door.
Little Ziggy...cute little Ziggy with the bright smiles and tiny feet that never bothered to step on the stairs relying entirely on the hand she clung on to to get her to the next landing. I feel blessed that often, that hand was mine. Little Ziggy who almost gave me a heart attack by biting down on a glass and having it break in her mouth! Sweet Ziggy with whom I played chor-police and hopscotch and dark room and football and other strange running-catching games on the terrace. Ziggy of the toothless smiles and warm hugs. Ziggy of the "ho gaaayaaa .......". The treasure hunt, crash Maths, looking for DVDs and watching them together, Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady. The Hindi songs you were not supposed to listen to, the elocution contest where I was one more proud face in the audience, the glares I got from your Dad for giggling with your friends at the others....getting wet in the rain, "Winds of change" (that will always be your song along with the other ones we scream our heads off at!). I have to thank you for all the times you looked after your sisters, albeit teaching them more than they really needed to know. You made parenting that much easier for me. I have this huge cache of happy memories that I can call upon.....and I am certain there will be many, many more.
Yet, when I think of you leaving, why does the house seem more quiet, why does my heart hurt, why do my eyes mist up? 'Cause you have always been my first little girl (yes, Isha has that in writing now!). And much as I want my little girls to grow up and spread their wings and fly, something in me also wants to hold on to those wonderful years that will never return. So here's to the Ziggy that was and the Ziggy that will be and the Ziggy that's in my heart for ever more. I will not give you gyaan. You will get enough of that from everyone else. And I will not even say that if you should ever need me I am always there for you. For you already know that.
I'll just tell you one thing: be happy.