Valentina : Barkha! Cuantas veces te dije que pusieras una capa rosa!(How many times did I tell you?)
Barkha : Oh! Lo siento mucho Valentina! Oh! Que error cometi. Senor Rodrigez es muy estricto! (Oh! I am so sorry Valentina! Oh! What blunder I did. Mr. Rodrigez is very strict!)
Mr. Antonio Rodriguez was the governor of the state and a celebrity client of Valentina’s bakery.
Valentina : Oh, note preocupes querida! Tu tia Valentina esta viva! Ve a dar ur paseo. (Oh don’t worry darling! Your aunt Valentina is still alive! Go take a walk around)
Barkha : Estas Seguro Valentina? (Are you sure Valentina?)
Valentina : Si Si hermosa! (Yes yes beautiful!)
It was a cold winter morning and a light fog sheathed the beautiful streets of Barcelona. A graduate in English literature from New Delhi, Barkha never thought that she would be where she stood today. Relocating from India with her son and starting afresh miles away from her roots was the most challenging decisions of her life. She worked as a visiting faculty for English literature in the University college in Barcelona. To her own surprise, she sought some respite in baking and joined Valentina’s classes.
Every time she passed through the Llobergat river, she felt a lump grow in her throat. Whatever she did, however she tried, the escape from the past continued to become more difficult than ever. The flashes appeared abruptly, his incessant shouting still haunted her ears. A year of self exile from the land of her birth, away from her people couldn’t help her in finding the much needed calm.
“Hey cuidado con la senorita!” (Hey watch out miss!), yelled a passing car’s driver which she almost missed while crossing the road.
She quickly retrieved her steps, almost slipping on the edge of the road. How she detested her own haute couture decisions sometimes! The towering heeled stilettoes almost twisted her left ankle and she could feel a slight sprain while walking.
Regaining her composure, as she always did with much proficiency, she took a quick glance at her watch. It was almost time for Kabir’s school to be over. It was not difficult to get Kabir in Benjamin Franklin International School, one of the best institutions dealing with American and International Baccalaureate studies. At six, Kabir was one of the most talkative child in his class and admired for his knowledge and interest in the field of science. He would often surprise Barkha with his innovative skills. She recalled how once he put a table tennis ball on top of a tiny measuring cup, calling it a hot air balloon.
Kabir, was the sole solace, midst her life’s trials, her only son.
She made it just on time.
Kabir: Hola mommy! Why are you limping?
It was overwhelming to see him notice every little suffering of hers, be it in the past, or her minor limping.
Barkha : Oh baby, my little one notices so much! Where’s my medicine kiss then?
And for a moment, both of them froze and looked into each other’s eyes, aching and dejected. It was how Samay always said to Kabir. Samay, her husband, in Mumbai.
Barkha : Who wants some chocolate shake with some rainbow sprinkles?
Kabir : (His eyes lit up with excitement) Yay! I want! I want!
And out of the blue he uttered,
“ Mama, eres hermosa! Gracias por ser mi madre! Te amo mama. Eres el major!”
(Mama, you are beautiful. Thank you for being my mama. I love you mama. You’re the best!)
Tears welled up in her eyes and she picked the little one in her arms and hugged her.
Barkha : Where did you learn such a perfect Spanish? Me soprendes mi hijo!
Kabir : (Giggling and confused)
Barkha : Okay! I get it, it means, you amaze me my son! Now tell me.
Kabir : I have been practicing it since a week mom. Miss Garcia helped me.
Barkha gave a peck on his cheek and they both headed towards their most favorite ice cream parlor, Cremeria Toscana at Muntaner. It was a pleasure to see how little things can bring a beaming smile on her son’s face. That was all she ever needed, or was there something more? Her heart ached, like the sudden spasms she often felt. And she once again put the memories aside.
It was time to leave Kabir at home with her mother, Anjum, and go back to Valentina’s Pastel y Panederos.