Barsha is a bright and beautiful girl. She is very poised, well behaved and an intelligent girl. Today, she is a married woman in her mid twenties and is living in a family way. When I got this news from her mother Kabli, I became nostalgic and was transported to a few years in the past.
The little Barsha and her deep black mischievous eyes always drew my attention. She never called me Auntie or Kakima or anything like that. She would call me by my name 'Mini' and claimed me as her friend. When she started to go to school, everyday complains would come from the school or elsewhere about her misdeeds. Her mother used to get disturbed and it would take her 3-4 days to be normal again and as soon as she was normal, a new complaint would come. Lot of parents used to come to me and complain about Barsha as they didn't want to tell anything to her mother and disturb her more.
One day I had gone to attend a Parent - Teacher Meeting in the school and I was busy with my son's class teacher, when someone patted me. I looked back. The lady was my friend. She said "Mini, I want to talk to you about something very important." Her voice expressed that she was in a low mood. After I had finished with my son's class teacher, we came to the lawn. She said in a very wet voice "Look Mini, perhaps you can understand my problem." I was waiting patiently to listen to her. She continued after a few minutes of pause. "Barsha always teases my daughter about her dark complexion. Now my daughter does not want to go to school. The other schools in the township are no good; otherwise I would have admitted her there. Please do me a small favour. Please tell Kabli as I do not want to tell her anything directly." I was confused. I did not say anything to Barsha's mother, but that evening I called Barsha. Barsha rushed to my lap. I asked her "Why do you tease your class mates?" She replied "Class mate... Who... That dark one?" I was shocked. She knows everything she had done. Very politely I told her "Yes that girl. You should not do that. After all, she is your class mate and a friend. Besides that you yourself do not have a fair complexion." Very carelessly she said "So what if I am not fair, but she is dark." I realised that this girl had a much better I.Q. than me. I said "Look Barsha any person may have dark or fair complexion as it is God gifted. You should not criticize God's work. This is the theory of natural selection and..."I almost delivered a theosophical lecture. She pushed her little hand on my mouth and asked "What is God?" I removed her hand from my mouth and said "OH GOD!"
Few days later Kabli came to me with Barsha's school almanac. Her class teacher had written something in red ink. As per the school's rules, whenever they punished a child they informed child's parents. The teacher had written that some other child's mother had complained against Barsha with the school authority and next day Barsha may be punished if the complain was found correct. Kabli broke into tears. "What should I do?" she asked me. After a good thought I said "Be strong and let her go through punishment. I am sure that school will not use the third degree."
Next day Miss Bantta, Barsha's class teacher held Barsha by her ear and dragged her out from the class room to courtyard of the school. There she asked her to stay holding both ears. Barsha asked "Why?" Miss Bantta said in a harsh voice "You have teased a girl just over her dark complexion. This is bad." Barsha said very innocently "So what? You are also very dark." I do not know whether Miss Bantta lost her temper or mind on hearing such a reply.
I came to know that Barsha had not stopped teasing that girl. In the evening, the children were playing in the lobby. I walked up to Barsha and grabbed her. In strong voice I told her "I am kutti (stop talking) with you and never call me your friend." I came back to my flat and shut the door. Four days passed. Meanwhile whenever Barsha met with me in the lobby or any other place, she always tried to draw my attention, but I ignored her.
Fifth day in the noon I finished my son's lunch and asked him "Put out the books from the school bag while I bring back the dry clothes from roof." I opened the door and I saw Barsha was sitting silently outside with both her cheeks on her palm.
I bounced "Barsha! What are you doing here?" Her face looked as if she was extremely sad. I knelt down and asked "What happen?" She said "Why are you kutti (stop talking) with me." I said "You tease your class mate, this is wrong. A wrong person must not be my friend." She climbed up my back and put her little arms round my neck. I said "You promise me that you never hurt that child again." She said "Promise". I stood up taking her on my back. I went to the roof, took the clothes and came back home. I had to help my son in his home work so I asked Barsha to go home. She said "Maa will beat me." Before I could say something she said "You come with me." I had a unpleasant suspicion in my mind, but I went up to her flat. The door was open. I pushed the door. There was a bucket kept upside down near the door. I went inside and peeped in the drawing room. I saw Kabli was lying on sofa bed with a book . She was totally pre occupied with reading. Barsha hid behind me. I made a knocking sound on the door. Kabli looked at me. I asked "Where is Barsha?" She said "She is sleeping in the bed room". I pulled Barsha from behind me. She jumped up and shouted "Barsha!! How did you go outside! I had bolted the door. How did you open it?! Who taught you?!" I understood why the bucket was there. Barsha said innocently "Mini has taught me."
"NOO" I screamed "I did nothing. I never taught her such things. My locking system is different than yours." But I was sure Kabli did not believe me.
Days passed. One evening I met the other child's mother in the market. I asked her about her daughter. She told me very happily that Barsha had stopped teasing her daughter and now they were good friends. Thanks to God. I said "Yes thanks to God." I purchased a big chocolate as I wanted to give Barsha a prize. I directly went her flat. Kabli opened the door and without saying anything she turned back. I did not understand what happened. I kept my bags . Barsha rushed to me and climbed up my lap. Kabli showed me her school almanac without uttering a word. 'Oh God!' another complaint! I settled Barsha on the dinning table and asked her "What did you do this time". she said "I erased Ankit's work book." "What! Why did you do that?" I questioned. She said "His hand writing is very poor." her mother shouted "Taate tor baper ki."(That is not your problem!). Barsha continued "I erased Mohit’s and Abhishek’s and Parul's note book also."
"But why did you do that?" I absolutely did not understand anything. But very innocently she told "I wanted to use my birthday gift"
“Oh no!” I bashed my head by my hand. In her last birthday I gave her a beautiful set of colourful erasers.
My son patted my shoulder and said "Mom you are smiling alone."
I came back to the present.
Yes Barsha always make me smile. Even her memories bring a smile to my life and lips - even today.