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Sridevi was not just an actress, she meant different things to different people. Here’s how she enchanted the four-year-old me with her nau-nau chudiya.
Sridevi was indeed graceful, beautiful, zestful and a powerful actress. The whole of this week has been about mourning and remembering – discussing her life – movies, songs and even interviews.
I was digging up my memories and I found a few bangles.
I must have been around four when my aunt took my cousins and me to watch Chandini over the weekend for a night show at an old theatre. I have foggy flashes of the brown seats in the balcony and a crowd screaming, whistling and dancing. It must have taken me a while to love the scenic beauty, the chiffon sarees and adapting to melodies but it was the nine bangles on Sridevi’s hands that I instantaneously fell in love with.
I would’ve loved to copy her choreography and even her expressions. I was enchanted.
I even forced my mother to even buy me bangles of different colours, and suddenly pink was a favourite. I would wear a pink Ghaghara and rehearse a lot. Most of my concerts were to my dolls and books.
I didn’t know how to count. It was a riddle that I was decoding. I perhaps knew what four was but nine was way too complex. So I spent time watching her on VCR and I tried counting on the screen, many times- well, every time my parents played the movie. Counting was not simple. I thought maybe nau chudiya meant covering half the arms with bangles.
So I discussed my complications with my supervisors. My grandmother, a maths teacher, opened a few fingers and showed me the count. It reminded me of “twinkle twinkle little star” and five distracted minutes later, I was just reciting the rhyme.
With my mother I used a different tactic, I tried analysing the number of bangles on her when she was asleep. In fact, one day, out of pity she wore nine bangles and counted. But Chandini was wearing a lot more. Definitely, my mother didn’t know how to count, I inferred.
Finally, one day, when the whole house was napping in the mid-afternoon, I proceeded with my secret operation- I picked up my mother’s vanity case, picked as many bangles as possible. I was counting on my memory, vague recollections of the song and everything I was advised with. I was preparing for this day, all my life.
At the point, it occurred to me “Nau-Nau” in fact meant nine twice which had to mean infinity and maybe, my mother knew counting. So I dressed up with extra large-bangle decked hands – from my arms to my wrists.
Finally, with the mission accomplished, I grinned.
With the pride of successful and smart thinking, almost seeming like a bangled robot, I stood in front of the mirror sweating – it was performance time, the dance floor was ready. So as I balanced the colour scheme and sequence of bangles, I slowly tried moving a centimetre of my hands towards my face and even before a millimetre of me moved, I was captivated.
My mother counted twenty-five bangles on each arm: close enough to infinite, I assumed. I believed that Chandini had led me to learn how to count.
Image source: YouTube