“The house is so quiet,” Sarita said sadly, as I returned from the airport where I had gone to see Nutan off. We had looked forward to her visit for months and now – in a flash – it was over.
How to describe the quicksilver nature of her presence, the way her mind darts and flies, the pleasure she takes in bringing pleasure, the sheer joy of being in the same room as her?
Nutan, my nanad, my husband’s sister, is a force of nature. Her personality is magnetic and huge; her energy unbelievable; her inventiveness and generosity a legend. When she is around, things just happen. Gravity, inertia and other seemingly immutable laws of nature simply bow down before her.
Big is great. Large personality. Force of nature. But with Nutan, it’s much more than that. Because as astonishing and as unforgettable as she is, as indelible a mark as she always leaves wherever she goes, whoever she is with – there are also the small, quiet moments, the perfect gestures, the little encounters into which she pours her heart and soul just as completely.
So it isn’t surprising to find her perched on a stool in the kitchen making cookies for Mummy because Mummy loves cookies and most of them have eggs and Mummy doesn’t eat eggs. Nutan knows that, so she brought her special recipes with her. She brought her karela recipe too, and she took the time to make her aloo tikkis, her idlis and her brilliant gobi masala.
She came here to spend time with Mummy and that’s pretty much all she did.
(That alone wins her a standing ovation. It is so easy to go home to visit one’s parents and to spend most of the time chatting with siblings, visiting friends and catching up on sleep.)
She introduced Mummy to new technologies:
Overfed her, much to her dismay:
She worried about her clothes and orchestrated an entirely new wardrobe for her, tossing the ancient ones she refused to part with, bringing samples of new cloth for her to select from and then getting suits designed and stitched:
She got her glasses repaired:
She bought her new shoes, got grab bars for the shower, organized her files, old letters and medicine boxes, cleaned her cupboards - all the things I’d been meaning to do but still hadn’t gotten around to. She moved through our world here like a cyclone of purpose. Cobwebs, old newspapers, plastic bags squirreled away and forgotten – they all disappeared.
In-between, she found time to make friends with Lakshi
and to spend time with her brother:
But none of this conveys the sheer force of her being, no story can quite illustrate how she lights up a room just by walking into it, no photograph can do justice to the way that everyone comes to life at the sound of her voice, knowing, just knowing that something exciting is about to happen.
But how’s this for an attempt? When I am with Nutan, I feel tapped in to the universe. I feel connected to all the goodness and generosity the world contains. Something about her spirit of energy and dynamism and expectation of delight makes me feel all-powerful too, just because she’s around.
And what happened as a result? In the one month she was with us, the Latika Roy Foundation received three separate staggeringly large donations, totaling nearly three crores, with more in the pipeline.
Coincidence? Maybe. But she’s taught me never to underestimate the power of conviction, to always expect miracles and to believe in the goodness the world is just waiting to share.
It works for us.