It was a hot and dusty day in late April. Bhudevi had not been allowed to go over to the Gymkhana park with her ayah, as the sun burned fiercely on the grass paddocks where she would occasionally play. Intial efforts to entertain her had been rather fruitless and like any stubborn two year old she tried exhaustingly to have her own way.
Her mother, a graceful and patient woman employed many of her skills as a kindergarten teacher to cajole the young Bhudevi. Finally, she found a task that seemed to captivate her daughter. She placed the big navy blue Family Photo Album on the wooden dining table and opened it. Bhudevi strained out of her high chair to touch the photos that had been carefully placed in the album, known to the family as Happy Memories. Her father was a keen photographer and her mother who told her the stories of each photograph had spent many hours preserving these memories in the album.
Later that evening, Bhudevi's father returned from work and to her delight announced that they would go down to Juhu Beach for a picnic.
After making their way through snarling traffic in the old Citroen, they arrived and settled on a rug on a patch of sand under a clump of coconut palms that lined the shore. Bhudevi played with her bucket and spade occasionally flicking sand in the air, and annoying the other adults sitting nearby. At any time of day, Juhu beach unfolds like a theatre set. Balloon sellers paraded with their creative rubber contortions shaped like butterflies and dragons, kite flyers ran up and down the beach in aerial battle, their manga tugging and cutting their young hands. Groups of people engaged in games of beach cricket often having to dodge the odd cow who took precedence over all. People strolled at the water's edge savouring their Bhel Puri or an Ice Gola. Some offered a Puja to the gods by tossing garlands of marigolds and sweet smelling mogra into the sea.
They unwrapped their picnic, and feasted on green chutney sandwiches, and savory mince rolls and curry puffs - all Bhudevi's favourites. On this occasion, she was allowed to wash these treats down with a fresh coconut juice - straight out of the coconut shell.
The big red sun slowly dipped into the Arabian Sea. A cool breeze tossed the curls on Bhudevi's forehead as she sat with her parents safe and secure in their love. She recalled her mother's words as the curls tickled her face -
'There was a little girl
and she had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very very good
and when she was bad she was horrid'
She gave her mother and father a big kiss and hug - this moment she would recall as one of the most joyous of her life.