Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The child in you..

Good things tend to make you miss your mom. And, “you” and “your” can be replaced by their first person counterparts, here.

Holidays, lazy afternoons, morning teas, half-melted Diary Milk chocolate, clear skies, heavy Cumulonimbus, Sen Mahasay sweets, George Biswas, Phoolbagan-bound minibuses, Gariahat, kabiraji cutlet, Soumitra Chatterjee….all good things. Remind me of Ma.

And childhood.

The fondest of them, was sleeping next to her on a quiet afternoon, both our schools being closed. Smelling her and doing nothing, sharing the same blanket if it was December, her constant entangling my feet with her own, putting her cold hands on my stomach to feel warm herself and making me feel frozen. To my “you’re so cruel, I don’t like you” remark, she would say, pulling me close, “But I love torturing you, like this”…

Memories of childhood are mood-elevating. Specially, if you discover something in the process (Read till the end and you will know what).

My oldest and happiest memory as a child is “people”. But that’s not the point. The thing I remember the most was, how I used to judge them. My first notion of every person I met was he/she was “ki bhishon bhalo” (So very good). It’s like, you start an examination by marking the examinee 100. The chances are that marks get slashed and he ends up in an eighty or a ninety (or even a forty). But still you would call it good enough. The helplessness of marking someone from zero and ending up in a twenty something, ‘minus something’ or just zero after days of knowing him, killed me.


 I remember travelling once in an AC railway coach. The first time and perhaps the only one, as a child. The side berths with curtains drawn seemed like a different world. A locked room, a home within a home. The sensation of secluding oneself from the crowd when you want to, the happiness of “bunk-beds”, the feeling of “I can even drop the aloo-curry on my dress while eating and no one can see me!”. Goosebumps!


I would start reminding the world that my birthday is around…from the beginning of December. I would start countdowns. “Guess what’s 15 days away?”, I would tell friends, teachers, neighbours, school-bus drivers and the like.  Subtly and then blatantly (read shamelessly), I would give hints as to what I would like to get as gifts and what I already have, so that there aren’t any replications.


Like 90% Bengali children, “phhoole phhoole dhole dhole” was the one of the first songs I learnt. Courtesy, taking breath at the wrong places, I used to sing ‘totinihil lolo tuley’. I asked my teacher what does “totinihill” and “lolo” mean and she laughed (like she laughed at ‘elemeno P’). She said when you grow up and learn to take breath at the right places, it would automatically become ‘totini hillolo tuley…..’.

Water logging was fun. And in New Alipore (the ‘baper-bari para’), it was a regular scene whole monsoon. The fun was wearing rubber-slippers (hawai choti) to the bus- stop, carrying the socks and school-shoes in a carry-bag, changing them while waiting for the school bus. Rain was fun and walking in the rain, too.


Biriyani was the best food in the world followed by Maggi.


I asked Ma (and myself) several times, “Rabindranath ki sotyi i Thakur? Is He God?” (the use of capital H is natural and not intentional).


Nahoums defined cakes. And so did their marzipan roses. On birthdays, I would wait and pray for being bestowed with atleast one rose with my piece of cake. The slippery feeling it left in the mouth made birthdays complete. And, yes, coloured tongues too!


During this time of the year, the doorbell would ring incessantly. Durga Puja-chanda collectors. Local boys from the para-pujo-committee. I was taught not to open the door when I was alone. I would say “barite boro ra keu nei, pore ashben.”  (There’s no one at home, come later).


The best things to watch on TV were advertisements.


Any secret under the sun could be shared with the younger sibling. Just any.


Extended windows fascinated me to no ends.


As a child, I would always imagine things from the shadows of the trees falling on the floor from a window, sunlight peeping in, through the leaves, from here and there. I would imagine faces and animals too….from the shapes of the clouds; or from parts of the wall, where the paint has peeled off.


New books, dresses and shoes were meant to be kept next to the pillow on the day they were received. I would sleep with them. (This meant school books, dresses and shoes as well).


The elephants in Alipore Zoo were shifted to a larger open-air enclosure. Everytime the car or the taxi drove past the zoo, over the Alipore Bridge (opposite Taj Bengal), the elephants could be seen. I used to crane my neck from the window and see the elephants, even from outside the zoo!! That was fun.


The smell of Shiuli made me ecstatic. So did the smell of the local fish market.


The joy of flying kites was enormous.

You release the string from the bail and the kite flies high, high and higher. Happiness. And then comes another one, hovering around him, snaps the string and your kite gets detached. Now, he flies on his own. You lose control. You bid adieu.

For me, this was the happiest moment. You read it right. He is meant to fly…and what could beat the feeling of flying on his own, with no strings attached? He explores on his own, settles on someone else’s terrace. A 5 year-old finds the new friend and smiles. The kite meets new people.

"I’ve freed him". That’s how it is meant to be. Some things are meant to be free. And that’s what made me happy.  

Yes, the joy of freeing the kite was enormous.


And then the discovery!! I realised that, nothing has changed. All these are intact. Everything holds true….even on the wrong side of twenties. I was alone at home the other day. Puja-chanda collectors rang the bell to which I replied, “barite baba ekhon nei, pore ashun”. Yes, I was embarrassed later. And happy…for reasons unknown..

Likewise, the ‘elephants in Alipore Zoo’, marzipan roses, new clothes and shoes, ‘totinihill lolo’ and birthday reminders…all hold true even now. Embarrassed I am. And happy too.  For reasons unknown.


On another note, I found this Calvin and Hobbs comic strip yesterday. And yet again, for indefinite reasons, it reminded me of a poem. Of Rabi Thakur.
যদি খোকা না হয়ে,
আমি হতেম তোমার টিয়ে,
তবে পাছে যাই মা উড়ে..
আমায় রাখতে শিকল দিয়ে?
সত্যি করে বল,
আমায় করিসনে মা ছল -
বলতে আমায় 'হতভাগা পাখি ,
শিকল কেটে, দিতে চায় রে ফাঁকি'?
তবে নামিয়ে দে মা,
আমায় ভালোবাসিস নে মা,
আমি রব না তোর কোলে,
আমি বনেই যাব চলে..

Good poetry gives me goosebumps. J


  1. Shringar er ekta set of liquid kumkum pawa jeto chotobelay. All colours. Saraswati pujor din amay ma ota diye colourful kore ekta tip eke dito (we used to...still do...call it 'tu') ekhono shei gondho ta pele i can close my eyes and im instantly transported. Goosebumps it is...the Tu, the poem, your writing...heart warming read :)

  2. Dear Parama,

    Like millions of people out there I too tend to get very excited about my birthday. I am the king that day. I get phone calls all day. Close friends wish me at midnight and closer ones drop by to smother my face with the cake. But this year was different. For the first time I was not excited about my birthday. I mentioned it to a friend who promptly said that I was finally growing up. But does growing up mean letting go off the childish pleasures? I was bordering on the affirmative till I read your latest blog.

    As a child I used to give full marks to people who gifted me bourbon biscuits or a 5 star chocolate that was insanely priced back then. And I guess “barite boro ra keu nei, pore ashben” is a universal excuse for getting rid of chanda collectors. The funny part was I used tell the collectors this by hanging from the grills of my window (for some weird reason I was the Indian incarnation of Tarzan back then). And sometimes I feel my father was cruel in thrashing the Picasso out of me when I peeled the color off the walls. I would hate it when my mom removed the price tag of my new clothes. I for some weird reason wanted to wear the attire complete with the tag.

    And how I loved circuses. Every year the big ground near the railway colony at my place was occupied by a circus troupe. And for some reason they would cover the enclosures of the animals. It was like a dream come true when my friends and I could hear a lion roar as we passed the ground. We always hoped to catch a glimpse of the elephants. We could almost always tell where the elephants were from the strong stench of dung coming from one of the enclosures.

    Thanks for reminding me that ‘growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional’. Really a refreshing read and a pleasant one at that. And I am going to rest on mom’s tummy today. That was my favorite place to sleep as a kid. Thanks again.


    1. Oh, this is such a nice post Sunil. Instantly made me happy!
      We share such similar childhood days...
      And Bourbon biscuits remind me that i still lick the cream and then eat them. ALWAYS. you?

  3. very nostalgic...very nice...

  4. Have you seen figurines and faces emerge from mosaic walls with black, grey or brown stones thrown in randomly..or freed birds in the sky..?
    My Ma showed me the way..and am ever so grateful to her to have familiarized me with such delightful things.
    And so grateful to you to have taken me back in time, yet again.
    Lovely writing.
    Need I say how eagerly I await your writings?
    Keep writing..while I wait to read more..

    1. Of retaining the child in you, Bans, remember, Que Sera Sera? Singing it loudly in the midst of the oh-so-crowded New Market? The two of us!!!
      Much love,
      P.S: Am so glad we did it.

  5. aww!! such a sweet post Parama!

    I'm already missing my parents dearly and here I go on yet another nostalgia trip. In my case it was me and my sisters all trying to suffocate aai sleeping next to her. She wouldnt sleep, just read lying down in the afternoons and even then we wouldnt leave her in peace. ;) Though i make do with vonage phone calls and skype, i so miss listening to the constant jingle of her glass bangles, the lovely smell of her hair and her talc, and my baba's mild cologne mixed with rose incense...ah! I so miss my home.

    1. Hey Kavs,
      Sorry for the late response. I know exactly how you feel..I miss my parents too re, though they are just 3 KMs away. It's strange na? Such a small distance? But its true...
      Plan a trip to India soon...
      Hugs and love,
      P.S: the glass bangles and the smell of cologne...you transported me into another world! I miss my parents even more.

  6. Besh koek mash age (tokhon Kolkatay chhilam) amra paanch bondhu mile Park Street-er Baristay dessert khete gechi post a Barbeque lunch. Ki je hothat possess korlo, 5 jone mile order dilam duto cake-er. Ar shegulo ashar por-i kaata-chamoch shorie die haat die khaable nie angul chete ekakar kando. (Ami plate ta tule chaatar extent-eo chole gechilam pray). Onek ta amader school bus-er shaamne dadu-r theke 2 taka die ekta jhalmuri kine bus-shuddhu shobar jhapie pore khawar moto. Jodio aash mitiye khete pari ni, kintu eta bhebe bhalo laglo boyesh hoechhe to ki hoechhe, rojgar korchhi to ki hoechhe, shwobhab jay ni mole.

    Ekhono 'Chhoto shishu mora tomaro koruna' ba 'He shokha momo hridoye roho' shunlei automatically haat duto jure jay.

    Brishti porle aaj-o chaad-e gie Robi dadu-r gaan ke shongi kore naachte ichhe kore, Kolkatay thakle kori-o.

    Ar ei post ta pore hothat mone pore gelo (ar na, ami facebook ba onyo kono madhyam check korini), tor kal jonmodin. Kake kake ki ki dite bolechhish janina, tobe amar torof theke onek bhalobasha roilo. :)

    1. :) Mon khush hoye gelo tor comment ta pore.
      Mone achhe tor? Thank you...buro hoye jachhi re. koto kichhu ajkal mone thake na. tar modhhyeo amader shokkoler mone mone "choto shishu mora" hoye thaka...kudos to that!

  7. Had bouts of pure happiness... na joy on discovering several- 'tumio eta korte' moments while going thru this blog(I always get surprised and overwhelmed when I discover that certain feelings, emotions and incidents are not exclusive to me).I love the chotobelar Parama even more (and the fact that you are basically still the same). ami maa k tui bole sombodhon korte cheyechilam after she read out robi thakurer kobitas to me where the child addresses the mother as 'tui' :)
    P.S.- You are adorable.Hugs(rib crushing, tomake khub kacher lage)

    1. this is such a heartwarming comment sweetheart. You simply made my day. Tight hugs back to you. Onek ador ne.

    2. I am sure you won't be surprised to know that my favorite destination in a mall is invariably the starmark outlet (not for the books, I get them online) or my parar stationary dokaan. Am absolutely hooked to rong pencils, stickers, pencil bags, kather rong pencil, hand made papers etc (I have a thing for wood and colours). I have a huge collection of pencils(HB-8B) from different brands(Nataraj, Faber castle, Camlin etc,). I prefer using a pencil over a pen any day. I often use them to decorate 'my' corners(see my Google account DP). Parar dokaan er jethu amar jonno notun notun type er pencil ene dito :D
      Please inbox me your address. Thanks to your blogs I already know what you want for your birthday. ;)