As a school go-er at six, in the freezing Patna winter, looking atleast five times me in three layers of warm clothes laden over a Vicks smothered chest for that perfect warmth; I was a naïve child, who half-sheepishly yet happily traveled the scooter ride on a standing ticket between appa’s protective arms, looking like little red riding hood with the red scarf wrapping my head and ears from the cold-prone winds and the water bottle garlanding my neck.
Often the pictures of me taken back then, with the mushroom hair cut and innocent smiles make me wonder if living life as little ‘divu’ was the best part of the past twenty-something years. My thoughts coast at the play-room, the storage hub of our flat with three balconies (a Dr.Bhishnudev Prasad owned building on Patna Main road), where I had created an immure world of me and my modest dolls, who would come to life in the puerile dramas I enacted with my kitchen sets. I was a contented child much to my parents’ relief, who could dwell for hours playing mother, teacher, soldier to the torpid, docile playmates.
I had learnt to amuse myself and in the process shared the perfect affiliation with self. As years went by, my playmates were replaced with books, paintings and jigsaw puzzles. As more years went by, the relationship extended to friends, good friends and best friends. Life’s rapport with self had almost dwindled away as a teenager and by the time I was twenty, spending time on my own was next to impracticable.
I, at now, at twenty-something, often spend a good many hours, bundled in books, fending for errands, attempting to cook, traveling to shop, listening to tunes while I run the treadmill. It makes me question if the little ‘divu’ had survived and was that autonomous me governing life all over again? Suddenly living as the stereotype independent working woman seems like the strewn jigsaw puzzle pieces, which I am trying to fit together, trying them on to make that complete picture, little by little each day.
I recall the jigsaw puzzle of puppies I knew by heart and fixed it almost ten times in fifteen minutes. I smile at the sardonic reality, when puzzles that seemed an effortless child’s play at eight are blurred veracities at twenty-something, when the pieces that fit the perfect life are yet so hard to find and when you do find them they are harder to fit!