There is a sudden commotion. The floors silently bear the thump of hurried, jubilant footsteps; the doors try to get over the shock of sudden, ruthless slamming; and the walls resonate with shrieks and squeals. And this mayhem is caused by Lilliputians’ extreme delight. Cousins are here. More Lilliputians. Now the gender balance is restored and the walls of the land of Lilliputians resonate with girl power. Here is the brief introduction of the cousins and this formidable girl power:
Maheen is the eldest. With the attitude and bearing of a princess, she is Saif’s best friend. Saif’s is a few months younger than Maheen, and this is his pet peeve. He used to believe that with time he would grow up and grow older than Maheen. But now he knows better and seems to have made his peace.
Maheen writes songs, loves to play football and cricket, her hair has to be short and pushed back with no stray hair touching her skin. She likes to challenge all accepted beliefs, and prefers to spend her life in comfortable track suits and T-shirts. Her mother, when she comments on her non-conformist daughter and her dressing habits, looks at me somewhat accusingly. The kind of look only a sister can give you when she blames you for a vagrant gene that landed in her daughter’s DNA!
Apple is the apple of my eye. She has a way of suppressing her smile and asking me ‘Why do you call me apple?’ And every time I repeat, ‘Because I love you so much.’ In reply I again get that smile which lurks at the lips and oozes from the eyes. It’s a ritual. She asks me this question on every visit, and I never change my answer. Having once seen this smile, who in the world would change the answer!
Known as Aimen, Apple is Zainab’s best friend. They like to dance together, and can giggle and chat for hours on end. Apple likes to dress up in funky clothes and jewelry, and is usually seen with her wayward tresses covering her face. Maheen, obviously, highly disapproves of Apple’s dress and hairdo sense.
Raina is the baby of the family. Just 14 months old, she perceives adults as trees which she wants to climb. Hold her in your arms and she will try to wriggle up, with her tiny feet firmly navigating the adult human tree. She has a fetish for shoes and has to wear them to bed. She may be 14 months old but she likes to have her way. If denied, she can bend her body backwards (imagine a bridge) and cry with all the might her tiny lungs are capable of.
Raina also likes to sweep the house before she sleeps at night. And while sweeping, she never fails to give us this you-adults-have-no-sense-of-cleanliness look!