Aai got a job when I was very young. Which meant that she wouldn’t be home when I’d come back from kindergarten. As a result, I’d skip lunch because I wouldn’t “feel” like having it on my own (a habit I still have – I WILL skip a meal if I am by myself). Naturally, it started taking a toll on my health. So to make sure I had my food, on time and in the right quantity, Mama would come home every afternoon, put me on his lap and feed me with his hands.
That’s the very first distinct memory I have of Mama. And since then, the pampering has never stopped.
I’d hate going to the ophthalmologist (for obvious reasons). So he would take me to the doctor with the promise of my beloved dosas after the checkup.
There was a time when I would write poems, so he’d get me diaries to make sure they were all catalogued.
When I was in the 6th Grade Aai tricked me into learning the harmonium, much against my wish. But to lift my spirits and make up for it, he got me a brand new harmonium.
Crayons because I loved drawing and coloring, books because I loved reading, cassettes because we loved music, VCDs because we loved movies, chocolates on birthdays, gifts on Rakhi (since Aai would get one, we’d get one too!), chaat and vadapav whenever we craved for it, pens and pencils, colored inks, pickups and drop offs – you name it and he has done it.
He still does!
Every year, on our birthdays, we get tonnes of chocolates. On Rakhi we get our “Ovalni”. New packs of coffee before the old ones are all finished. Anything that the heart desires, he will make it happen!
His genuine love knows no bounds. Sometimes we joke saying it’s just perfect that he chose not to get married. It allows us to have his love, affection and attention all to ourselves.
Although, it’s not just restricted to us. Mama loves our friends too! He will remember everyone’s birthdays and wish them without fail. And enquire about their lives and take interest in learning what they are doing. Even Ella loves him a lot. She has a special place in her heart for him. Every time he comes home, she forces him to sit on the floor then sits on his lap and gets her butt scratched.
He truly is the “Universal Mama”!
His gestures tear me up. There’s hardly anything he demands in return. But I know the perfect way to say, “I love you too”!
In a typical Marathi wedding, it’s the bride’s Mama who walks the bride to the Mandap. And I know for a fact that at my wedding, it’ll be no one else but Pradeep Mama!
Mama – you adorable you – you’ve made life interesting and pampered and I love you for that!