A pleasant lady we know dropped by yesterday to give us this object, which was filled with sweets, and to which was attached an invitation card for a party, to be held at a five-star hotel, in honour of her undoubtedly resplendent first grandchild.
I doubt if any south Indian, or at least any Tamil, has ever commissioned such an object: the new grandmother is Punjabi. I'm fascinated by it: the baby has yellow hair, and sits on a scrap of real terrycloth towel, under a sequinned palm tree. And the sweets are tasty, too. I'm wondering how to fit it into my house - I don't think I can bear to throw it away.
The lady stayed for tea. R joked with her about her allegedly fabulous social life, equally fabulous jewellry, etc. She said, "No, no, that's all over. My only wish now is to see my great-grandchild." This simple wish, in which so many other wishes are implied, gives me the opportunity to relate a story that R made up:
There was once a bania (a member of a merchant caste) who had the misfortune to be poor and blind. His wife was barren. He meditated and performed many austerities, and at length a sage - one of those unpredictable yet powerful beings from Indian mythology - appeared before him and said, "Because of the strength of your austerities I am compelled to offer you one boon." The bania first tried to bargain for more boons. The sage was impatient and said, "Hurry up, you get only one boon, and I have many other things to do." So the Bania thought for awhile and then said, "I wish to open my eyes and see before me my beautiful wife, on the seventh story of my golden palace, rocking the cradle of my child."So in one boon, the bania gained his sight, wealth, a beautiful wife and a child. This story illustrates the shrewdness of banias, as well as the complexity and endlessness of desire.