May 23, 2011

The Hundredth. 7/Z/5.

This very nook, the one where I am sitting right now, was where I was when Dadu had charged at us with a wooden chair, holding it up with his two hands, under one particularly violent fit of Alzheimer’s-induced rage. Tebu was six months old then. I was all of seven years, and Buiya nine. Trembling out of fear, we had all rushed out of the room, Tebu carried by the domestic help, and out into the gully. Dadu had, after calming us, signaled us to come in, but had ordered that Mana, the domestic help, whose forcing medicines upon him had caused him to get enraged, stay out.

Dadu died a year and a half back, after suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease for almost one and a half decades. Tebu has learnt and un-learnt Canadian English and is almost in high school, and has a nine year old brother himself. Buiya is almost done with a Masters degree in English, and I’m in sophomore year of College, desperately trying to figure out the intricate nuances of Economics. The Powerpuff-Girls poster has been scrapped off the wall behind me, and the editions of ‘Desh’ and ‘Anandalok’ stacked up on the racks are there no more. But after almost twelve years and many cities, apartments, schools and life-altering experiences today, we’re permanent residents of 7/Z/5, Picnic Garden First Lane, again.How much do renovations change, really? The set-up within each room has received drastic make-overs, but each corner is still painted with indelible memories. This,and 5-Ballygunge Place were the two homes I spent my earliest years in. The place I came home to right after I was born, the place where I learnt to stand up, to talk and walk, the endless humid-summer evenings spent on the ‘chhad’, the Tents-and-Adventures games with Tebu, Mongolamashi coming to work every morning, and engaging in squabbles with Thammu, Protima bringing us small-little souvenir toys from the fairs, the ‘mela’ near their slum, , Lebu’s birth, countless family gatherings. Within the walls of this home, my years of growing up have been kept preserved carefully.

Of course, once we moved out of Calcutta, and got acquainted with other towns and their people, the strings connecting me to this place began to grow weak. Sure, there still would be the coming-back-and-spending-the-vacations here, but that too got divided between here and Jodhpur Park, Lav-Kush, Abhyudoy, Salt Lake and all those other places. Eventually, there would be entire vacations when I’d not visit here even once. The walls lost their glow, the plasters and wall-papers were eroding away, the rooms got messier, and Dadu and Thammu older. The Nidharias moved to their own home, and then to Canada. Dadu got increasingly immobile, and soon, I had no reason to spend my time here any more.

After Dadu and Thammu had moved to Salt Lake, and Dadu’s demise in 2009, 7/Z/5 was left nothing more than a lot of rooms and old rickety ‘bonedi’ furniture covered with dust. Hence, not without reason, after its having housed us for twenty two years, Baba decided to sell it off, earlier this year.

The very next month I fell fifty feet, from a window of the Rajarhat apartment. I survived, but was ‘scarred’ enough to reject any ideas of going back to the fourth floor apartment where we were staying, or the one where we were to move to. Ergo, an entire make-over for 7/Z/5, and moving back here. Life has strange ways of mocking us and our plans sometimes. Today, I’m learning to walk all over again, in the same house where I learned to walk first, twenty years ago. Very few things have stayed the same. The ‘aangan’ behind the house is where it was, though it looks so much smaller today. The name-plate on the front door still bears the name of the 5 original-Goswamis. The Maxim-Gorky and Kafka novels still lay stacked in the drawing-room book-rack. But the single-houses lining the lane then, have given way to apartment-blocks today. Today, Shilpa Shetty no longer gyrates to “Jawaani Ka Alam” on television. Today, tears do not start flowing over one missed episode of Scooby-Doo. Today, the cabinet housing all of the ‘Shuktara’ and the ‘Sandesh’ issues, or the ‘Sinhasan’ with the idols and ‘nokul-danas’ are there no more. Today, I’m no longer convinced about the prospect of the existence of a fantasy-world infested by perilous ghostly-lions (all of it cooked up by my sister), just beyond the guava tree behind the ‘aangan’. Today, the guava-tree itself doesn’t exist. All that exist are fading memories of events of Not-So-Long-Ago, the rooms exactly where they were, and midnight-musings such as these.

1 comment:

Monidipa said...

This post is so beautiful I have no words for it. Re-read it about three times already.

Also, falling fifty feet from an window sounds like a pretty dire accident! Hope you're doing alright (or better than immediately afterwards), since you've been writing beautiful blog posts. Take care. :)