My Fundays 15-04-2009

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By Daman Singh THIS FIRST-TIME WRITER, A DAUGHTER OF PRIME MINISTER MANMOHAN SINGH, RELEASED HER NOVEL, NINE BY NINE, RECENTLY AS TOLD TO DEBASHREE MAJUMDAR
  • Published 15.04.09
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I was born in Chandigarh but spent a few early years in New York, US, as my father was working for the United Nations back then. However, we soon relocated to Delhi and I spent my childhood in the grand old capital.

As a child I pretty much did my own thing. For the most part, I was absorbed in reading, writing and exploring nature. From weeds, creepers, to tall trees, I loved them all. Plants and animals have always fascinated me. Most of my time was spent capturing insects in jars, observing them, examining them and then setting them free. I used to often keep caterpillars and watch them closely until they turned into colourful butterflies. Observing them evolve filled me with wonder and amazement.

Sometimes I also tended to fledglings that had fallen off their nests. I would take care of them until they were old enough to fly away on their own. Books by naturalist Gerald Durrell inspired me. And veterinary surgeon and writer James Herriot was the reason behind my obsession with dogs. Eventually I got interested in almost anything that moved and breathed. The more I spent time with nature and animals, the more I got entwined in their world.

For instance, it was fun to watch Penu, our pet dog, jump into the school bus and hear the petrified shrieks of my schoolmates. Given a chance, Penu would not waste an opportunity to raise hell. He once climbed on to the dining table and dug into my sister’s birthday cake, much to our dismay.

We were always encouraged to read and write at home. The one thing that I waited anxiously for was our trip to an illustrious bookshop across the town that our father took us to. We would go there once every few months and would scan through the huge collection and return with two books each, beaming. They were the best presents we could ever have.

In spite of all this there were things that bored me to death. And that included doing household chores. As our father used to be very busy, my sisters and I had to help our mother with the housework. My job, for many years, was to set the table, cut the salad, fold the washed clothes, and buy milk, bread and eggs. It wasn’t much fun, but I had to do it. We always bonded as a family over dinner as our father would be relaxed after his day’s work.

I had a lovely time growing up. I believe there’s a charm about every single stage in life. I, for one, made the most of the time as a young learner. I’m now trying to ensure that my son, Rohan, has a wonderful time too.

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