Only Memories Remain | Flash Post 422
Button, I don’t know about you but I constantly dig into my bag of memories whenever I feel sad and under the weather and they have never failed to draw me out of that gloom.
I am sure you have memories that haunt you too!
Yes but those are few and far between and each of them, good or bad, remind me that I’ve had it better than most.
What were your childhood years like? Were they happy?
They were wonderful and I am grateful. Given a chance, I’d welcome a rewind.
Let’s hear a few.
There’s a photo of mine in the bedroom with me in a black coat frowning into the camera. I must have been all of five and don’t have a clue who clicked that picture. However, I do remember that I had an uncle who got that coat back for me after a trip. I lived in it till I outgrew it and hung on to it till much later refusing to even pass it down to my younger sibling. I also remember the house we lived in that had a central courtyard where baba would cook delectable food once in a while and, till this day, when my sister and I chat for hours, we remember the years we spent together.
I’m sure there’s much more!
Both of us were doted upon and even though we were not financially well-off, baba and ma went out of their ways to do their best by us. Baba would suddenly break out singing a Hemant Mukherjee or Kishor Kumar number or play a tune on his mouth organ which he played with gusto and ma would take turns to cook our favourite dish once every month. The only vacation we could afford was visiting my grandparents from my mother’s side when we travelled to a village called Putimari in the district of Nadia in West Bengal. Baba taught me how to catch fish and I still remember my excitement when I hooked my first catch. He also taught me to swim in the river that flowed a few kilometres away from the house. That clay house had a thatched roof and looked palatial because of its size. You may not believe me if I tell you that I learnt to de-husk rice using the massive manual contraption! I’d lie on bamboo beds—called matchas in Bengali—on full moon nights and gaze at the stars for hours and dream about going up there and touching them. If I was lucky, I’d catch a shooting star. At times, on moonless nights, fireflies would light up the darkness in tiny bursts. That house was magical with flowering plants and fruit trees of every kind. I’d climb mango trees and pluck raw mangoes that ma would make pickle out of and, till this day, I feel nostalgic of those times gone by. If it got too hot, we’d use a hand fan made of palm leaves to cool down. At times when my grandmother wished to pamper us, she’d fan us while we slept. My grandparents from my father’s side lived with us and my grandmother, who lived to be 90, was great fun to be with. Of course the poor lady bore the brunt of our pranks but I must confess that she took it in her stride and often caught us by surprise with her equally naughty and humorous repartees.
You can’t stop here.
I was also the apple of my father’s eye much to the chagrin of my younger sister. He’d get me a lollipop or a tiny mithai and pass it on to me without anyone’s knowledge and later, look at me with a glint in his eye and one of his impish smile as if to say “this is only between the two of us.” My mother used to reprimand him and point out that what he was doing was unfair and, if my sister found out, she’d feel sad.
That’s not nice.
But parents do it all the time.
Is there anything you remember from your school days?
Lots. My sister and I almost always walked to school and back. We got dropped off by baba in the mornings and got picked up by ma after school hours. Once in a while on our way back, ma would treat us to a ride back home in a cycle rickshaw. On other days, she’d buy us chana from the chanawala outside the school gate. The rickshaw ride was never mentioned to my father though but she felt morally good about treating us on par.
Tell me something about your worklife.
All I’ll tell you is that those six years of my life was pure magic. I’d board the bus the office sent around 7 in the morning and be ready on time. I was told by ma that the right thing for a girl from good homes was to wear a sari to work though she had to do the draping because I hadn’t worn a sari prior to that. She also tied a braid as I had knee length hair and I’d be off. If I got back home later than 6.30, I could bet my bottom dollar that baba would be waiting at the street corner pacing up and down looking flustered and unhappy.
I am amazed at how vividly you remember every moment of your life till now! Any memories about your married life?
Plenty but I’ll leave them for another time. The only bit I’ll part with today is that I have spent triple the number of years being married to Dost compared to the time I spent at my parents.
Button, this post happened because of a quote by Tennessee Williams that says:
Has it ever struck you
that life is all memory,
except for the one present
moment that goes
by you so quick you
hardly catch it going?