I write today to acknowledge the exceptional kindness we experienced, growing up in a small little village — Kolivery - Kalina, Mumbai.
Dias Uncle — Always making available the morning newspaper and forever having a kind word. His son, my good friend, Derrick for sharing his books.
Ortes Aunty — I had lunch at her place for a good 5–6 years. Can never forget the taste of her fish curry and prawns fry. Also the drinking ducks in her cabinet; she would spin some story around them to cajole me to eat.
Kaaki and Maai — the litanies at their place, their large heartedness, the plates full of sweets at Christmas.
Philomena aunty and the Gomes family — my youngest brother practically grew up at their place.
Dcosta uncle and family— his brother was responsible for my reading habit, novels, taught me how to solve cross words, got me hooked to the afternoon/free press journal/ busybee; we would also follow horse racing, I don’t think he ever bet, just followed. I remember his tales about Ajmer. For some reason remember asking him the meaning of the word ‘ally”.
I remember the weddings in our village. The celebrations would start weeks in advance; the band would come out in full gusto and the dances with the huge suitcases.
I remember playing every possible game unhindered by the lack of equipment. We had fashioned hockey sticks by sawing some mango crates, similarly for table tennis, played wall hand tennis — basically two players squared off against a wall- good fun, cricket did not need much — the easiest to organise. Carrom, chess, cards and some board games. Nothing stopped us, somehow we managed to create stuff to play with. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.
I remember us going across to our neighbors to study, space somehow materialized, the tea kept flowing. The movies we watched, the games we played everything we did had a community feel to it. No mother ever worried about her child not eating, most likely would get fed at a neighbors. I remember the first trip by flight — my brother and I all decked up in safari suits, talcum powder et all — it was such a huge occasion- everyone had come out to see us off.
And the music. Every Sunday, would get treated to some of the finest music ever, played on some huge system. Abba, Boney M, Osibisa and of course Hindi music. felt absolutely divine to sit out in my verandah and listen to the songs wafting by.
I read somewhere that it takes a village to raise a child. We were exceptionally lucky to grow up in one such village. Obrigad.