There’s an uncanny sense of being around what I call home. Uninhibited speaking of the mother tongue after almost half a year – stranger it feels than it sounds. Maybe if she could speak she would have pointed out that the already strange accent is stranger. But she would also comment that it sounds honey to her ears. She spoke those words today too – through a gentle finger tug as I narrated her our favourite childhood memories.
I have NEVER stayed in this house alone – where was the scope? The babyji was always feared to be lost in her Neverland and then it took 2 ‘mashis’ to cull her out of the ‘box room’ (attic) or from behind the curtains. Today without her eyes hovering over me, I feel lost even in her room. The sense of security came in moving about holding the edge of her white saree and listening to sermons of how ‘little’ girls from good Bengali families should grow up to be ‘fine young ladies’. Definitely, without tea I tell myself, as a freshly brewed Darjeeling cuppa grows cold beside me. Untouched, till Chotoma takes it away.
Curtains – I have always loved them in her room. Pseudo peek-a-boo we used to play as she called me out for long elaborate summer luncheons. I have never really been a foodie. But then again was also never really smart – for despite the figurine being apparent behind the curtain I really thought she couldn’t see me. Pretend Play is soothing still as I shed a tear standing behind the curtain today. Was it then that she stirred for the first time today, after 30 hours of coma – she who can never see me cry!
A tattered Enid Blyton and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – my first books, still kept in exact shape and size!!! Why do they emerge today as I crawl under her bed to search for a slipped out ‘pill’ – do they say I need to emerge a winner in Project Childhood today, no matter what?
Why did I dream of the Ghoom Monastry yesterday – maybe because there I had pestered her for the ice cream (with one foot submerged in snow). Or maybe because the hilly terrain was where I promised her an ice cream after I grew up – uphill task that is still, but how can she leave without the ice cream?
An old toffee box – those tinned ones that were shipped in from Britain and won by one of her children in school, still stores her home-made Scrabble letters. In 1950s’ Scrabble was the ‘sahib’ game and we had no relatives who could bring us off shore games. So would her children then remain bereft off it? The cut out letters pasted on cubes of card board speak the rest. My childhood afternoon reminiscences are captured on a few too – mango juice stains of little fingers.
A sitar in the corner, the harmonium I pumped once, the trunk of treasures – the letters we wrote to her in childhood in Bengali, a failed attempt to teach us the language. The smell of Charmis I still feel on her cheek, the Boroline tube that I religiously use on her lips still. A tinge of mustard oil for the winter feet cracks. A spoonful of chocolate milk – her only vice. I do everything to assure her that there’s my childhood still around and hence she can’t be really old!
Wrapped in white shawl lies my childhood, as I sit in vigilance. Sometimes you fear that even cracks in the wall are enough to steal away things. Today I sit with the door open – let’s see how Ms. childhood leaves, when still the last fairy tale is left to be narrated to Calvin.
Project Childhood – 1 left. Pray. Am out here to save the last link from breaking.
A blog snob post – Please don’t mind the non reply to comments. The Project really needs a successful completion. Nothing else matters now.