Abu came into our lives as a tiny, scrawny 2-month-old baby. But we had already decided that he was the most beautiful baby and that we would love him no matter what, even before he was born. Even while Ritu Didi was carrying him, we knew he would be one of us. More than Ujesh Unlce and Ritu Didi, his parents, the four of us- Acha, Amma, Chechi and me- were excited about his arrival.
Didi left to Chandigarh for her delivery. It was a complicated case, because she was highly diabetic. The day she went into labour, we heard that it was going to be difficult. She had gone into labour two months prematurely. Ujesh Uncle kept us updated about what was happening. He was tensed. There were chances that they won’t be able to save the baby. We were all praying fervently for the baby we had never set eyes on even, but were waiting excitedly since the past seven months for. Finally uncle came and told us and Abu had entered the world, after a lot of difficulty, drugs and drama.
Abhishek Sharma was born on 23rd August 1998.
And ever since that day, he has had two dads, two moms, and two sisters. Five years later, one brother too.
He lived in our house, pretty much all the time. Didi used to put him to sleep, place him on our sofa and then go for her bath and to finish off her chores. So tiny was he, people who came to our house were hardly able to make out that the small lump on our sofa is actually a sleeping baby. He slept at our place, he ate at our place, he played at our place. He grew up at our place. Since his flat was right opposite ours, it didn’t take him much time to just cross over and come to our flat. From 7 in the morning to 12 at night, our door used to be open all the time, because a) it was getting tiresome opening the door every five minutes to a tiny little fist banging on the door and yelling “Viji Mummy, darwaza kholo!” and b) he had figured out how to lock doors from outside. So just when we had to go out somewhere urgently, we would pull on the door and realize that Sir Abu had locked it from outside. We would then stand at the window and yell for one of our neighbours to open the door for us. So ya, it just made better sense to leave it open. We had to device new ways to make him eat his Cerelac, because he was a very fussy eater. Chechi and I would sing songs, jump around, twirl that spoon-fork-knife set (that looks like a merry-go-round) in his face, and when he’s watching open-mouthed at his two mad elder sisters, Amma would shove a spoon of Cerelac into his mouth.
He called my dad Chandran Papa, my mom Viji mummy, and of course, we were Lachu Didi and Ammu didi. Chech and I used to play with all his brand new toys first and only then give it to him. He would say “Didi, please, abhi mujhe khelne do na.” He was more fond of my mom’s mallu cooking than his mom’s Punjabi style, and he had no qualms about accepting it. We would make fun of him saying that if his Viji Mummy gave him even uncooked dough to eat, he would polish it off happily. Didi used to cook something and stealthily give it to my mom, telling her to feed it to him passing it off as her cooking.
He would take serious offense if we introduced him as our ‘neighbour’. Once I had gone to pick him up from the bus stop when he returned from school, and a girl from his school who got down at the same stop, who had only seen his mom coming to pick him up, asked me who I am. I told her that I’m his neighbor. I could feel a small face staring up at me. Once we got home, he complained to his mom that I had called him my neighbor. “Why did you call me your neighbour?? Why didn’t you say I’m your brother??!!” And he threw his socks at me. Well, that was the last time I made that mistake!
He grew up with us. And in that process, we became kids once again. Amma made him eat, Acha taught him Malayalam (his first Malayalam words- the song Kandu kandu kandilla- and he speaks flawless Malayalam. He can even read and write), Chechi and I made him a bakra for all experiments. He had long curly hair till he was about 3, because they have this custom of shaving the head for the first time at a religious ceremony (it’s called Mundan, I believe). So till then, he had soft curly hair lovelier than that of a girl’s. Chechi and I used to drape a shawl around him like a saree, tie his hair into a ponytail, put bindi, chain, bangles etc, and dress him up like a girl. And then we would click his photos and laugh at him. We were such bullies. Paavom… he just loved his didis too much to protest. Whatever we did, he would play along with it. We made him dance, we made him sing. Our world revolved around him. His first b’day celebration was no less a celebration for us too. Exactly five years later, his brother was born. Yup, on the same day. They share the same birthday. :) Aditya Sharma, Vibhu at home. I lovingly call him Toofan, because he’s nothing less than one. He too followed in his brother’s footsteps and spent most of his time at our house.
But Abu was special. He was OUR baby. Our brother. Our son. They shifted from the apartment a few years ago, but even now, Abu spends most of his time at our place. He’ll come home and say “Viji mummy, I want your rice and sambar ok.” And Amma, just to pull his leg, will say “No no, you go home. I don’t have any food for you. Go tell your mom to cook for you.” He’ll go give her a hug, say “You’re also my mom only no”, go out to play with the apartment kids, and will be back promptly by lunch time.
Ya, Abu is special. It’s hard to believe that he’s grown up. He’s as tall as me now. Every time I go home, he’ll first give me a crushing hug and then come stand next to me and say “I’m as tall as you Didi. Next time I’ll be taller.”
And now, when I see my little Abu jaan on Facebook, uploading pics of himself in his new spectacles, commenting on his friends' pics and updates and posting links of songs from “I Hate Luv Storys”, ennala thangamudiyaathu kadavule, thaangamudiyaathu! :/
Ennala thaangamudiyaathu kadavule- I can't bear it, god!