Counting to infinity

Counting to infinity

Sridevi was graceful, zestful and a powerful actress. The last few days have been about remembering her - discussing her life, movies, songs and interviews.

I was digging up my memories when I found a few bangles. I must have been around three or four when my aunt had taken my cousins and me to
watch Chandni, a night show at an old theatre. I have foggy flashes of the first theatre experience - brown seats in the balcony and a crowd screaming and whistling. 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.

As days passed, I copied her choreography and her expressions. I was enchanted. I even forced my mother to buy me bangles of different colours, and suddenly, pink was a favourite. I would wear a pink ghagra and regularly perform to my dolls and books.

I didn't know how to count. It was a riddle that I was decoding. So, I spent time watching her on the VCR and tried computing while the song was on the screen every time my parents played the movie. Counting was not simple. So I discussed the complications with my supervisors. My grandmother, a maths teacher, opened all her fingers closing one thumb. It reminded me of "twinkle twinkle little star" and five distracted minutes later, I was reciting the rhyme. With my mother, I used a different tactic, I tried analysing her bangles while she was asleep. In fact, one morning, out of pity she wore nine bangles and counted them for me. But Sridevi had a handful. Definitely, my mother didn't know how to count, I inferred. Finally, one day, when everyone was taking their siesta, I proceeded to test what I had learnt - I picked up my mother's vanity case, and took out all the bangles. Then I stacked them up based on vague recollections of the song. I had been preparing for this day all my life.

At that point, it occurred to me that "nau-nau" infact meant nine twice; which had to mean infinity and maybe, my mother knew counting. So I dressed up in sleeves of extra large bangle-decked hands, shoulder to the wrists. Mission accomplished, I grinned.

With the pride of fierce thinking, and almost looking like a bangled cybot, I stood in front of the mirror, sweating - the stage was ready. As I balanced the sequence of bangles and movement of my hands, I slowly tried
moving my palms towards my face.And even before an inch moved, I
was captivated. My mother removed the 25 gold, silver and glass bangles hanging on each arm: infinite, I assumed. I had learnt to count to infinity.