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My daughter, Shivani, is almost 8 years old now and still hasn’t given up on her favorite comfort item. The thing in question is a blanket that my mother had got for her when she was under 2 months of age. For Shivani, to date; this blanket that she calls ‘Bla’ has been most cherished buddy. This blanket has undertaken all outstation trips along with us and has also flown back and forth destinations ever since she undertook her first trip at 5 months of age.
My maternal uncle and his wife happened to visit Shivani when she was a little older than a month of age. As soon as he saw her; my Mama shoved a thousand rupee note into her tiny fist. My mother has always had the good habit of utilizing the money for the child itself. This is the same practice that she followed for both my brother and me; whenever guests gave us money. On a moist day in September; my mother in spite of her eye trouble; ventured out all alone and got Shivani this blanket. Little did she know that this would become her buddy for such a long time. Whether we have visitors at home or we travel anywhere; everyone everywhere questions Shivani on whether or not she has outgrown this habit. And when either she or we reply in negative; our friends and relatives have something to chuckle over.
My brother had a very similar story in his childhood too. He never went to bed without circling his palms on his favorite pillow. That was an adult sized pillow that he would place beside himself lengthwise as he slept. His right hand would keep moving in circular motion till the time sleep overtook him and in case he woke up in the middle; he would again follow the same regime till he slept off again. He called this pillow ‘Ball-Ball Pillow’. He had this habit at least till the time he was 10 years of age and by then the pillow was in tatters. He refused to part with it and I seriously cannot recollect the numbers of times my mother and I stitched this ragged pillow and put it back into one piece.
A close family friend had once remarked that both my brother and daughter found solace and comfort in these items as they were not nursed by their mothers for too long. This could or could not be true; as per me. I was exclusively breast fed for the first 1.5 years of my life and I too had a fixation.
My fixation was for teddy bears. I used to cuddle a lot with my mother as I slept and as that was disturbing her sleep; my well meaning aunt gave a suggestion. She suggested to my parents that in case they got me a big sized teddy bear; my mother could sleep undisturbed. It then became a practice at our home. Every year, on my birthday, my parents would get me a big sized teddy bear which would be my BFF for the whole year. I would play with my teddy; teach it arithmetic and reading and also cuddle with while I slept. This all came with the promise that when I got my new teddy; I would throw away the old one on the day after my birthday. This was because the whole year’s petting would leave my teddy only in shreds. There used to be high voltage drama every year on 5th December; where I would go to the dustbin innumerable times and then again return back to the couch saying that I couldn’t throw away my best friend.
All 3 of us are equally culpable of these kinds of irrational behavior while we grew up. But, aren’t things like these and many other that make childhood so fascinating and enthralling.