Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Home again. Back again.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that people who come to spend a holiday in the city blog about it, either when they arrive or before leaving. Since I am not extraordinary, how can I break the tradition!

So there was the customary outing with close friends, hahas and heeehees, the usual desperate effort to ignore relatives. Though really feel bad about not being able to meet some of them--an old uncle who wished to see me, my four nephews and nieces who are quite adorable (I hate kids but I love them). 
Ma would potter about in the house finding a million things that I could/would/might need in Delhi. She has discussed in great detail how much weight I have put on and how after a few months my eyes will be invisible as the fat in my cheeks expands in every direction. Then as I lazed around in my favourite, soon-to-be antique, sleeveless nighty, she looked at my arms and said (chewing every word) that I should rotate them c-l-o-c-k-w-i-s-e and a-n-t-i-c-l-o-c-k-w-i-s-e.

Baba is still in his post-retirement hyperactive phase. This is such a dangerous phase. Species suffering from this are gripped with a sudden fear of an empty bank account, daughter going on a shopping spree does not help things. At night before we go to sleep, the dining area is flooded with torch light, or so I thought, then I realised it's actually some hopeless new kind of bulb that emits an apology in the name of light. If Ma and I are reading in the morning, he arrives and switches off the light and parts the curtain. Often we are not in our best attire, fit to be seen by neighbours, but who cares? Then suddenly he will pace around with crinkled eyebrows mentally computing the cost of running the house and then asking me how I manage... my replies are nothing short of scandalous and often they shock him out of his wits. 
Before I arrived I made grand plans of visiting grand places. Nothing happened. I just lay there, like a dead body. Every day at eleven, Baba would tempt me with a cup of Darjeeling tea, which is my definition of luxury and sipping that I would read t2. What else does one do on holidays? I think even if I go on a Europe-tour, it won't feel like a holiday if I do not get my t2 there. The horoscope, the useless fashion advice, the outrageous celeb-photos, the twitter updates--nothing spells 'welcome home' more than t2 does.

There is much little sky visible from my window now, a house at the corner of the road is becoming a four-storey flat or something.

The two sides of the lane that leads to the main road is full of red stains of paan, the increase in the number of red blotches is directly proportional to the rise in the number of Marwari households and the number of cars and the number of drivers and the number of offices. 

Every time I come home I try and look for changes, as if looking for some sign that says that things change when I am not here. But they don't. Not much. My room is still the same. The other rooms are still the same. The paint is peeling off the walls from the very same places as they did few months back, my mother still needs the mandatory eye-drops at night. She still walks down the steps one step at a time because it hurts otherwise. The annoying showpieces still stand where they stood always. In their own subtle way, the universe reminds me that they can all 'muddle through without you'. For a few minutes nostalgia is replaced by a sense of obhimaan (I do not what English word fits in here) when I realise this. Ironically that is also comforting, it helps me to be in denial about my need for being there ... there's still time ... I tell myself. Till things remain the same, I can feel a little less guilty about not being there. For them. For my parents, for the rooms, for the city.

Good night.

Sunday, 21 July 2013


In the fifth standard the language was a nightmare.

In our syllabus, the poem 'Tal Gach' by Tagore was included. I read it, liked it, and recited it aloud. Although I wished Tagore would have paid homage to a shorter tree, being 4.8 I was not (and still am not) fond of things that peep into the sky.

I was never into metaphors. In the exam if I were asked what the poem was about, I perhaps would have written 'Tal Gach' (duh!) and that would be it. Of course the marks revealed my royal ignorance. I had still not learnt the magic word 'Kobimon' (the heart of the author) which was to be used to tell the examiner in verbose and magical sentences what one's own thoughts about the poem was and present it as the possible thoughts of the author but how does one really know?

Things did not improve at all. The only source of respite was the collection of story books at home (Sukumar Ray and his sexy son who created that sexy sleuth, Sharatchandra with his series of 'bous' and 'didis... only Srikanto was a welcome relief, in fact come to think of it, I was rather uncomfortable with all the ichore-pnaka girls falling for the very guys whom they called 'dada'). I never read Bibhutibhusan and no Tagore (I could not understand anything he wrote, when I read Bolai I thought 'okay so you love the tree but why would you go rolling down a slope?? The muck! The dirt!' So there. Fortunately, things have changed.

At school too the situation was grim. A teacher (not particularly pretty to put it mildly) who was fast approaching the age of retirement would teach us byakaron by uttering loudly (gesturing with her hands) 'amar mukher moton chaand, amar haather moton podmophool'. (my face is like the moon, my hands are like the lotus). Sweet.

But then God was kind and from the eighth standard onwards we had some amazing Bangla teachers and that was when I realised my mother tongue is not a nightmare.

Now almost a decade later, somewhere away from home, the language is a source of comfort and is almost a confidante, a friend, with whom I can talk in a tongue that no one else around me understands. Together with this friend, journeying on the crests and troughs of those curved letters I can travel to that place I call 'home'.