I can't quite remember the little details anymore, Chotto-ma. When I see a newborn baby, it's hard to imagine that you were ever that tiny. But you must have been.
Mamma had knitted two pairs of booties, one in lemon and another in peach, and parcelled them over from India. They came with matching cardigans and baby bonnets. And they arrived before you did. That first winter, you were either all peachy pink, or all lemony yellow. Little feet, flailing in little pastel booties.
Now, your shoe size is seven. And I need to remember the Chotto-ma you are today, in these shoes.
So, here's who you are, at three.
This is your current favourite book:
Your favourite movie is The Wizard of Oz. And the first movie you saw in a theatre, on a big screen, was The Lion King, last month.
You have an elephant's memory. You remember things in astonishing, photographic detail. Things that happened when you were a year-and-a-half. Places. People. What they were wearing at the time. Details of things you had in your room, in 'The Blue Door', the house we used to rent when you were in nappies.
Your most important ritual is a 'group hug' when Ba leaves for work in the morning. You also screech like a banshee and run like the wind when he rings the doorbell in the evening.
Today, while sitting on the kitchen worktop, watching me cook, you said "Look Ma, the smoke is going up, to say hello to the ceiling".
The line above is a translation. Because, you always speak in Bengali. Unless you're having a conversation with Peter Rabbit or Benjamin Bunny, since it's quite clear that they don't understand Bengali. 'Ora to English lok' .
When you grow up, you 'want to be a writer; and live in Paris'.
You hate water on your face in the bath. Nothing bothers you as much.
You like to draw. A lot.
You are thoughtful beyond your years. You will talk in whispers when Ba has a headache. Keep even the smallest piece of chocolate to share with us. And ask to call Kolkata to check on Mamma and Dada every day if you hear they're unwell.
You ask for a dream every night before you go to bed. 'Aajke aami ki dream kori?'.
You 'read' in bed long after Ba and I have left your room.
This is your room, now:
Yes, you have your own kitchen, but you much prefer mine.
You are convinced that Ba and I will become babies when you become a 'big girl'. You plan to buy us essentials like shoes and ballet dresses (yes, even Ba). And drive us around, after strapping us into our car seats in the back.
After Ma and Ba, the third most important member in this house is your teddy. Whose name is Teddy. Also sometimes called 'Teddzabilly'.
You smile a lot. Talk a lot. You give lots of hugs. And are being trained to give a mean shoulder massage.
And your favourite food is a pancake. You eat pancakes for breakfast on Saturday mornings. But given a chance, you would eat them every day.
Apple & Cheese Pancake
The filling first:
3 - 4 apples, peeled and grated.
A sprinkle of brown sugar
200 gm cheese, grated
(I used a strong cheddar. It's bold, salty flavour combines well with the sweetness of the apples)
Mix them in a bowl, and keep aside.
Now the pancakes:
1 cup plain white flour
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 tbs melted butter
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, and crack in the eggs.
With a wooden spoon, whisk the eggs and flour in regular circles till it starts making a thick batter. Then slowly start mixing in the milk, a bit at a time. Keep whisking as you add.
When all the milk has been mixed in, add the water. And the butter. And give it all a good stir.
You should now have a batter with the consistency of thin pouring cream.
Now choose a ladle that holds just the right amount of batter for your pan. About 1/4th cup is right for the average pan.
Heat the pan, and oil it lightly. Pour in the batter, and turn the pan in circular motion to evenly coat the surface.
When the batter becomes opaque, spoon in the apple and cheese mix onto one half of the pancake.
Cook the pancake for a minutes, till lightly browned on one side. Then fold, and press lightly. Cook for another minutes. This will make the cheese melt into the apple.
Slide onto a plate, and serve. With or without cream
This recipe makes about 8 pancakes.