Dreams In My Dreams

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As a child, I feared Shanti. She used to arrive when the clock tower at Ghanta-Ghar in Old Delhi struck ten in the morning. A loud ‘Ram Ram’ greeting to my grandmother heralded her presence and triggered my moments of panic. A visit to my grandmother’s old house in Delhi during the summer vacation was a yearly ritual. Away from school, it used to be a time for me to take life in general, and a trip to the toilet in particular, at a relaxed pace. 10 am to me was still dawn. I was unable to comprehend the urgency to wake up before ‘dawn’ and rush to the toilet to eliminate the ‘by-product of the previous night’ as my grandmother would put it. 10 am- a time by when most members of the family would have answered their nature’s call; men would have left for work, the women would hide behind household chores and I would roll on the ‘charpoy’ bed, resisting my grandmother’s coaxing to get up. Her wake-up call, instead of a kiss or a good morning would be, “wake up, rise; go to the toilet, Shanti will be here any moment.” Shanti was a ghost who often lingered in my morning dreams chasing me to the toilet. As an adult, I have potty-trained my daughter with an overdose of time, love and patience. Sadistically, I sometimes wished she had a Shanti-scare in her life to make her life more regimented and mine easier! My first encounter and the subsequent ones with Shanti were enough to pattern my bowel movement and instil in me a toilet routine for a lifetime. Shanti was a manual

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