It is almost a mini-village.
A motley group of people live here. Men , women and children alike roam about the courtyard throughout the day. Mostly families come and leave in a year or two.
Since the past year it has become a baby full-house.
We have got Mannu bhai , Paki darling , Foogi , Sunny , Baby Aunt and the Bengali Bachchi.
In order of adoration :
He hails from Hyderabad. His real name is Manthan.
Introducing myself to him was no difficulty ; he loves the Courtyard as I do. Everyday he would totter through their doorstep , casting sly glances at his Mamma hanging the clothes to dry. If she worried , he would loiter close to her bucket of clothes and bask in the freedom outside the confines of home.
First came the stares. Then I smiled. He stared back wonderingly. Then shyness overtook his innocent inspection of 'who is this girl ?' and he would look away with a smile : 'pleased to see you'.
So the days went on. Staring and smiling ; then blowing kisses. When I felt we were friends enough , I went out and kissed the long pending cheeks.
Chocolates , chips , oranges , biscuits , bananas were baited to lure His Littleness , Mannu bhai smiles and kisses.
He kept the Courtyard lively and clean with his babyish charms and toddling feet. There were days in dhoti , in banyans , in lungi ; even a girl's frock.
The Bengali Bachchi (coming up later) was his favorite girlfriend when it came to pinching cheeks and throwing his little arms with the affectionate gusto springing with the trifle inattention of their respective guardians. Once such zest sent both of them tumbling to the ground ; much to his surprise and the alarm of the poor girl. However it did not dampen the baby hero from his naughty courtesies.
He would kiss his hand and imitate blowing the kiss across my window.
Now isn't that gallant?
In Konkani language , we call a balloon 'foogo'. If we want to feminise it , it would be 'foogi' , won't it ?
That's how Foogi got her name. Chubby all around. She is Fatima in real and belongs to our Keralite neighbours.
She clung to her mother with the cement of adoring liquidity. If you have managed to unclasp her from her Amma's bosom , it would be only due to a deceptive play that she cares for no longer the moment it takes her away from her beloved mother ; wails of pitiable tremors and tear-filled haggard eyes were her tools to lure her mother in leaving household chores undone to attend to baby's wish: 'schtay-with-meeee'.
His folks call him Sunny ; nickname for Sandeep.
He is very fair , and has eyes like a light grey , calm sea in winter. Very interesting shade. Its not just plain grey. His eyes give him a touch of glitter.
Chubby tubby fellow , cries almost not at all (his parents worry about it!) and weighs masha'Allah (caused some nerves near my right upper ball and socket joint side to strain badly) !
Smiles like a gentleman. Not too much , nor too less.
You can hold him in our courtyard for an hour and he would be enjoying the breeze , looking up into the tree and in general seeming a nature-lover.
The only thing he really dislikes enough to wail about on a daily two time basis : the bath tub!
Through our kitchen window , we first realised his existence. His cries , morning and evening , floated over and thus we bonded with the familiarity of knowing his voice without seeing him till many months later.
He sleeps without needing motherly pats nor songs. Three fingers go slowly into his mouth : 'I wanntu schleep pleezh' . Just lay him down on the bed and he is off to La-La-Land.
A serene baby soul.
Only he says : Please please , pretty please , don't give me a bath ! Me good sunny boy , no soap and water for me !
As her name suggests , she is a Pakistani.
Huhhh , huhhh are her favorite words.
Mother and daughter have interesting conversations involving morose crying , scolding , imitation cries , screaming , loving endearments and further wailing monotones.
Their voices are a live audio entertainment.
She was born to her parents in their autumn years. Their third daughter. Since her niece is a couple of years elder to her , it seems proper to call her 'choti aunty' .
A delicate baby with a beautiful rose hued complexion.
Once , her mother was visiting us and had gone out of her line of sight , on all fours she set the course , tiny hands and tiny feet sprang with monkey steps and found her mother a few feet away.
The youngest of a trio.
She is a quiet , don't-mess-with-me toddler.
Manthan loved to irritate her.
I would watch her and she would smile discreetly.
Three more babies were on the way , two have gone away to India , the third will be joining the ranks of this full-house in a couple of days. Cries and smiles yet unknown. Welcome to the village !