Born into a household after seven girls meant I ended being both pampered and a brat. Thanks to the substantial age gap, at times I did feel like I had eight mothers — seven surrogate! My sisters played a huge role in giving me not just what they had but also what they did not get. All my sisters went to government-run Hindi-medium schools, but it was on their insistence that I went to St Xavier’s School in Jaipur. It’s hard for me to forget what Uma, the third eldest sister whom we lost early, did for me. Be it ironing my clothes or getting my hair done, she was always there for me. At the same time, she was a tough customer too.
I had reason to be reprimanded at least five times a day. I would be beating up someone in the neighbourhood or stealing fruits from a tree. Even in school, I was not easy to manage. The diary would always have remarks in red and, I think, there was an expectation that I would always be in trouble. My sisters groomed me and would often sign the diary, only to see me go back to my mischievous ways.
Boy, it’s such a joy growing up in a large family. I enjoyed the odd balance of being pampered and yet being treated like any other child. There were no expensive toys and we all ate what we were given. Working in a cooperative bank meant, dad got to travel to small places for giving out loans to farmers or to collect what had been lent. He travelled in a Willy’s jeep and as an eight-year old, on occasions, I too used to tag along.
I vividly remember his long hours and him bringing files back home. But despite the responsibility of a large family and a hectic work life, dad loved poetry and literature, especially the lighter side of it. My school used to have elocution contests and once my father taught me the Mira ka vishpan poem, which was quite intense. He sat with me and I learnt the style of recitation and delivery from him. I executed it so flawlessly and yet, I lost, as the teachers did not understand a word! My father kept my spirits up by saying that I would do better next year. Next t