My Kitty Papa

She entered with a cute smile, lighting up the entire room. The neat fringe falling over her doe eyes had a twinkling, yet mesmerising effect. Kittu has the inquisitiveness of a restless deer, hopping around the hall. “How can I help?” She asked sweetly, stretching her tiny palm, cupped upwards as if holding some precious nectar.

“Just watch me paint and try to follow the strokes. You tend to apply more pressure on your crayons, making them thick and too bold. They become difficult to erase, we won’t be able to correct it if we need to later,” I replied with a gentle smile.

She nodded thoughtfully and exclaimed, “But I like to make bold statements.”She then started humming Jack N Jill went up the hill. Well, it does look like an uphill task to deal with this sweet gal, all of five. Bubbly, boisterous and beautiful, but such a darling.

It was becoming a daily routine to have this lovely kid welcome me at home in the evening, armed with water colors and a great smile. A great stress buster, indeed!All the tension of hi-tech video calls, site visits and lengthy BOQs faded into distant memory with the unconditional love, demanding my time and nothing else. In return, I got a kit of giggles and nonstop chatter with loads of crumpled scribbled papers to be shown.

“Oh, these were not good, I need you to teach me again,”she said, taking out a blank sheet. I looked at my treasured drawing sheet book, so lovingly given by Geetu in Toronto. Almost empty, time to hide it.But then I stored that wicked thought deep inside.

 

“Oh, I can see you have painted two aunties, one lying down and the other one giving her a massage,” she exclaimed. I explained that I was trying to paint a typical Keralite shirodhara massage therapy. “As the oil drops are let down through a Urali thread on to the head, it creates a nice sensation which relaxes the lady,” I explained.“Hmm,” she acknowledged with a delicate nod.

Kittu examined the in-progress work more minutely. “Unkool, but, why does the auntie lying down on the bed have spots on her body, it looks as if she has bad bed sores. Is she not well?”She questioned, innocently. I froze – so much for my detailing of the top polka dot transparent cover sheet on her body which I had used to cover this lady’s body

“Oh baby, it’s just a sheet, so that the masseur auntie can slide it over to massage easily, but point taken. I shall make those sores into flowers by drawing additional petals,” I answered, rather sheepishly.

“Yes, do that,” she said. “You grown ups don’t see the details.”

 

 

Double Trouble
On day four, in she trotted in with Disita, another cute little girl of 6, deep dimples firmly in place and black curls yearning to be straightened. She was slightly taller than our two feet nothing kitty friend. She seemed to be walking on unseen springs, bouncing around a few inches above the ground.

“Uncle Uncle, please give me a drawing sheet and a better set of water colours than what you gave to Kitty!I want to draw a big rocket, which will fly off from the page.”

Nayee musibhat, I thought. I looked around the room and shrugged sadly, “See Dishi, all the pages are over.You will have to make do with this long lined paper from my accounts register.”

She glared at Kitty with a look that could have vapourised her!But Kitty was made of a sterner stuff, standing rock solid.

I was glad that my prized drawing book was hiding safely in my wardrobe. I signalled to my wife to not open it. I threw a sad look at the gals, informing them of the scarcity of fresh books. So, the rocket session was conducted on a parallel lined sheet and in steady progress.

The rivalry between the little ladies was obvious. Ever so often, one of them would come complaining- see how she copies my rocket’s tail? Kitty would respond, “Ha ha, Iam drawing a butterfly, she copied my tail into her rocket wings. Did you ever see a rocket with butterfly wings anywhere, Unkool?”

She asked for some water color pencils, “Good you gave her just ordinary color pencils, you are so nice. You have kept the special and different pencils, only for me.”

Next minutes I see two bubbly rolls bundling on the floor and hands pulling pony tails in all directions. I dashed into my open kitchen to fetch two glasses of Maaza mango drink.

Time for half time, I decided. The athletes would be so tired and thirsty. Tears streamed down the faces bawling at my feetas they scooted to the corners, ready to prance. I ran across to each corner to silence the sirens. I was sweating profusely and so I stopped and lectured.“Good girls don’t fight like this. Promise me to be great friends or else you both leave now.”

They looked at each other, gave half smiles, shook hands and kissed each other. The very next minute, there were peals of laughter as they sat there sipping their juices. Phew! Thanked God I had only one girl -my Aabana- a big lady of 27 years now, to deal with as a child. I was fondly reliving her childhood days.

Of Vanishing Colours
I was at the office one day when Kitty knocked on my door. “Auntie, is unkool there?” Kitty had her corona lockdown vacation and wanted to draw those virus cartoons. “No, but do come in and talk to me, you never have a moment for me when he is there,” my wife said to him.

She offered a plate of sumptuous steaming momos on a pretty doily paper, with a saucer. “Oh auntie, sorry but I don’t eat junk food, mom says it could have the virus on it! Maybe, they are dancing on it.

My wife turned a shade paler. She spoke to her for a while and showed her our family pics. “Oh, your picture is so sweet, you are looking beautiful and Unkool looks handsome in that smart choc dark suit.” Slowly the lost colour reclaimed its rightful place on her cheek. Only to be short lived, though.

“Oh auntie, looking at this pic again I would like to say something more, can I please?” “Oh, please do,” said my wife expectantly, hoping for another cute complement. “You are so serious and not smiling. Look at him, so cheerful showing all his 22 teeth. His cheeks are full too. Did you not eat dinner before the picture or did Unkool scold you? My dad always does that, such a bad boy he is.” Your face is so plain Jane, no makeup too.” Hmm, the color went away, again.

Heartache Amidst the Crisis
This corona crisis has put a spoke in the works so as to say and little kitty is packed off to faraway Tirupati since Dad has been asked to work from home. The absence of the daily dose of gola (noise in Telugu), is haunting me, as I ache to see that darling again…. The familiar words Unkool, Unkool ringing constantly, despairs me, no end. “See my pencil, how sharp it is!” or “See my rocket fin like a fish,” … the words sound so distant now…. Corona, you have managed to set us apart momentarily, for sure. But, wait for her Ram Baan…. you will be wiped out.

In moments like this, a few thoughts spring to the fore – the little one’s love is so unconditional. The pure buddyness as I call it, is so infectious, so Nirmal and Swach… The genteel coolness or the words of tiny conspiracy against Dishi, whispered in my ears. It often looked as though little James Bond girl was reporting her secret mission brief to her lady boss, Eve.

The story of friendship and affection, memories to last a life and beyond.

My sweet Kitty papa… Darling.

Venu Rao
Peacock Hospitality
02 April 2020.

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