The first thought which whizzed through my mind when I read this was, "Just like her Momma!" When Priyanka was growing up, she too made life fun, crazy, adventurous and tiring for us, and we loved every moment of it. the whole roller-coaster ride!
Zoya is one and a half years old, and time is flying by. A hundred different expressions cross her face in the span of a minute; sometimes curious, at other times, complacent. When she doesn't like something, her lower lip juts out, a giant tear hangs precariously as she assumes a mutinous attitude.
Just like her Momma whose lip used to almost touch the floor when she was unhappy or annoyed. She would stomp off into what we dubbed her 'kop bhavan', a hangover from the serialized Ramayana, in which Queen Kaikeyi used to storm off into her opulent 'kop bhavan' when she was disgruntled with her hapless husband.
As Zoya traipses across the shopping mall, her sharp eyes dart around, falling on all the fascinating sights that surround her - the people, the lights, the colours and the noise. Priyanka once sent us a video in which we could see the little Missy going "Wow!" "Wow!" "Wow!" at every new thing she saw. She had an audience, of course, all amused at the sight of this tiny creature making her appreciation so obvious.
Her favourite spot is any eating joint, where she sits pretty on her own little baby chair, and eats French fries, chicken nuggets and noodles, taking sips from a straw that delves into a deep glass awash with juice.
Just like her Momma, who used to strut across the Army shopping centre, making a beeline for the ice cream counter. Once there, she would say clearly, "Bhaiyya, ice cream, please!" The said bhaiyya would promptly hand her a cup of vanilla ice cream, her staple, confident that her father would come and pay him for it.
Or the times when we would be playing Tambola at the Deolali Temple Hill Institute, and she would pick up her 'soffink' (soft drink) even before her dad picked up his not - so - 'soffink'. Dad's barbeques were legendary, and our little Miss would warm her hands before the fire, waiting for her piece of chicken to cook.
Music has played a significant role in all our lives. So, while we are thrilled when Zoya sings the English alphabet or 'Johnny, Johnny!", we are in raptures when she actually lisps 'Edelweishh, blesshh my Oya evva!" because Priyanka and I have sung 'Edelweiss' so often to her. The moment we wait for is when she goes high like a little tweety bird.
Just like her Momma,who would dance to any music she heard on her chubby little legs. But the song that made us, and most specially her maternal grandmother tear up, was 'Kuch Na Kaho' from 1942 - A Love Story. At the age of eight or so, she would sing it, going higher and higher till she hit the crescendo perfectly. She even won a prize in school once after a rendition.
I am often amazed at the twinkle in Zoya's eyes, as though she has a secret joy within herself that lights up her entire persona. She is not yet two, but she has a wonderful sense of humour that sparkles forth through the mirror of her soul, her smiling eyes.
Just like her Momma, who also has large brown eyes that smile out when she wants them to. As a baby, she too was a good-natured soul, generous and particularly adept at shepherding kids younger than her, a trait that was appreciated by many a weary mother. At other times, she had a healthy streak of mischief that made her the perfect tomboy.
Like mother, like daughter! Isn't that what life is all about? Whether it is a question of the genes being passed down or a soul being reborn, it seems a miracle to see our little granddaughter follow so closely in her Momma's footsteps. Our hearts fill with joy when we see the beautiful bond that shines forth between Zoya and her Momma.
And when she sees her Dada, who is busy holding down a strenuous job and doing his MBA at a frenetic pace, she goes crazy and hurtles into his arms, refusing to let him out of her sight.
You wonder whether it is possible to love anyone that deeply, but then, my husband and I have been along that same path ourselves, as have our parents before us. And when Jodi Picoult says, "Parents aren't the people you come from. They're the people you want to be, when you grow up," it suddenly makes perfect sense.