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Sunday Musings: The Language of Tender Love

Our regular veteran contributor on social issues and Today's Motto, Lt. Gen. Raj Kadyan, though on a visit to London recounts his anecdotes of his Paris days

London/Gurgaon: I met Monami in 1991. Her mother was the concierge of the building where we lived in Paris. It was a case of love on sight. I was then a Brigadier nudging fifty and she had just turned three. By some logic she concluded I was a Colonel. I had acquired elementary knowledge of French and needed lip-reading to comprehend. But I could not read lips that were forever covered with tomato sauce and chocolate leavings. Our communication was therefore through gesticulation.
Whenever I returned from a formal reception she always waited in the foyer. She would grab my hand and make me sit on the marble threshold. She would pull at my necktie knot as if to straighten it. She jingled my medals. Then through some gibberish accompanied by hand signals she would make it clear that I was not to move while she fetched her doll box. I complied. She combed my moustache with the doll comb, gave a wild tug at any errant hair and would go into raptures as I cried out in mock pain. I was her captive and she took her time doing all this, unmindful of bemused passers-by and her mother’s protestations.
Sometime we met in the basement where I went to visit the small storeroom allotted to us. We would sit in the sand and I drew pictures of animals and birds with my finger. As I completed one, she would obliterate and command, “encore”. The basement was not heated but strangely the cold did not bother us.
Then she started visiting our apartment on the fourth floor where she would stand on her toes to reach the bell push. These visits were clandestine because she knew her mother did not approve of our privacy being disturbed. On one such visit she found my wife applying henna and sat there visibly bewildered. The wife

put some designs on her tiny palm. She was thrilled. However, she got tired of it after few hours and wanted it taken off. When she couldn’t, she cried and developed lasting unfriendliness towards the wife.

Our courtship continued throughout our Paris stay. On the eve of our departure, she waived us an emotional bye from her mother’s lap and quickly turned to bury her face in the latter’s bosom.
Some years later we visited Paris as tourists. We made it a point to call on our old concierge. Monami was there too, now a sensational blue-eyed sixteen. Her mother asked if she remembered me. She looked at me for a while as if in a trance. Then, travelling back in time she was a baby again as she gushed, “Oui, le Colonel” and reached for my tie. Almost instinctively I put a protective hand on my moustache. (Representative feature image credit-Dissolve)

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