She was the oldest daughter in a family of five, three of which were girls. While the middle daughter was a lover of the arts and the youngest one a tomboy, Babli was the quaint follower of rules. The good one, my grandmother fondly recalls. I look at her black and white photographs. There is one where she’s standing by a trophy. I don’t know if she won it. Decked in a plan salwar kameez, her expression is stoic as she stares into the camera. Her round features are beautiful, her skin flawless, her almond-shaped eyes piercing. She must have been a heartbreaker. “On Bhai Dooj I would tie a rakhi on the wrist of every boy in my class,” she once told me. “There was one boy who said he didn’t want me to tie a rakhi on him. I started crying.” I can imagine her as a young girl, distraught that a boy doesn’t want her as a sister. This innocence in her still comes out sometimes, like the time we were playing Monopoly and Papa was trying to swindle her of some property.
From what I know of her, Mammi’s life is far from uninteresting. She studied Economics at Miranda House and then got married, only to become a devoted housewife for over two decades. In 1999 my mother took my brother and I to the
I want to hear her story, if she’s willing to tell me. I want to see her as a person who felt things that I’m feeling, not as a standard I can never measure up to. But what can I do, she doesn’t like attention.
Mammi and I in Sofia, Bulgaria: