Thursday, 19 September 2013

Roses in September…

My brother wrote these words in one of his status messages. “Roses in September”. Just the three words filled my nose and my head with fragrance and memories. Septembers do smell of roses. When your mother is a teacher, your house is filled with this flower in abundance. Red, yellow and pink. Not the expensive variety, but the 5 rupees kind. The roses are encircled by a tuft of furry leaves which I assume, are leaves of Jhhau gaach. The arrangement is wrapped in silver foil at the stem and cellophane at the top. At Bengali weddings, the guests are often greeted with roses of this variety and at times, they accompany Menu cards at the buffet tables. These tiny flower arrangements adorn our rooms on the 5th of September and the following few days.…accompanied by countless greetings cards with “Happy Teachers’ Day” written all over them. Ma’s school bag used to get overloaded with gifts. When we were young, it was Cello Ball point pens that outnumbered the other brands. I always used to crib about the dominance of red-ink pens over the black and blue ones.  Ma, I am sure, used to feel secretly happy that she didn’t have to share her gifts with her children.  But I was born greedy. I used to stockpile a few red pens for underlining important portions of the text books, draw hearts at the last page of school notebooks, fill them with red (finishing touch being an arrow drawn across it) and write on birthday cards and gift tags. When I was younger, I used to play ‘teacher-teacher’ and used those red pens up to the hilt (I used to correct old exercise copies from my previous academic years and what fun it used to be!).   

I visited Ma a few days back. The gifts have become a little more expensive. Cello is replaced with Linc and Uniball. Gifts include artificial long stemmed roses decorated with brightly coloured Thermocol balls and wrapped in a thicker variety of cellophane, scented candles, terracotta Ganpati idols, cute little teddy bear-key chains, letters and cards. Ma, like all the yesteryears, still stacks all the wrapping papers partially for the emotional value and partially for recycling. The fun of scanning through her gifts still remains untainted. (And, with a ‘whooooosh’ sound, my age goes downhill).

Teachers’ Day lesson:
A student in junior school did not bring any gift for the teachers. On 6th, he came and gave a parcel to Ma saying that he is a day late because his mother ‘goes to office’ and she did not get the time to get him gifts for his teachers. He also added that he was heartbroken the other day to see almost everyone else in his class handing over presents to the teachers. Ma felt sad. (I’m sure her eyes glistened, given the fact that she was a Rudaali in her previous birth). She told Baba. And Baba gave her an idea. He asked her to carry an assortment of about 10 gifts in her bag on every Teachers’ Day. In case, a child forgets to get a gift, she can quickly take out one from her bag and give to him/her. He/she can thereafter gift it to a teacher of his/her choice. (He also taught her how to strategise the entire act so that the child doesn’t feel humiliated.)
Ma was happy.

I was happy too, realizing all over again, that I have the best set of parents in the world.
Teachers’ Day thoughts will be incomplete if I don’t mention someone who meant a world to me when I was in school. My Mathematics teacher, Mrs. Arundhati Mukherjee. Straightforward, firm, honest, often politically inaccurate, strict, loving and a gem of a person. I didn’t know she loved me too until I introduced her to my husband. Her first reaction was: "তুমি পরমাকে বিয়ে করেছ? তুমি তো খুব সাহসী!"  (You married Parama! You must be brave.) She added that I can eat one’s brains by my unrelenting blabbers and I am quarrelsome. In school, every time, she deducted marks, I would fight with her, asking for explanations, demanding justice, adding drama etc etc. In short, if I could fight with teachers, she could well imagine the condition of the husband. (She also added, that she loved me for whatever I was and she remembered my surname and sections, inspite of there being numerous Paramas in our batch! *the collars-up feeling*).

I updated a post for her on Teachers’ Day to which she replied. It gave me smiles and tears and the idea to flaunt it to the whole world by saving a screenshot of the same. Teachers are precious. So are their words….  (Yes, remembering “X-A” after 13 long years takes the cake.).
Since I am in my narcissist spree, I would want to flaunt something else as well.
Last year I bought a saree from their store, wore it, showed them a picture later from my cell phone. This year, when I visited them again, the store manager at Bhumisuta tells me, that they have named that particular saree after me. At first I did not believe him. Then I saw this, made a ‘Susmita-Sen-after-winning-Miss-Universe’ face and left the store happily. Did I say ‘happily’? Well, it is an understatement.

And more happily thereafter, something more happened. Singapore based journalist (and a very lovely human being), Deepika put up this as her status:
“Today, like the best of things two of my saree dream girls showed up on the same page and the moment I had been waiting for, was here. 

Sadee Saree is about putting the saree back into real settings, real places and seeing her on real women who are really beautiful. It will have a bit of stardust but that will never be its driving force. There are other folks who are doing that already.
Which is why, I am delighted to introduce to you, the cover girls of the page -Parama Ghosh & Nithiya Laila. There are several more women you are about to meet. This is as good a day as any to like the page… …”

Kaleidoscope of butterflies danced in my stomach when I saw this.
Parting tips:
I tried this the other day. Try the rose tea at Café The on the ground floor of ICCR at 9A, Ho Chi Minh Sarani. You will thank me forever.

Yes, Septembers do smell of roses.


  1. I keep coming back to your blog for the sheer beauty. It looks like an expensive restaurant with rich but earthy decors and the platter gives a feel being back home.

    Lots of love and wishes. Please keep writing.

    1. Thanks thanks thanks, PRB.
      Please make yourself comfortable. I am at your service, Madam.
      Hope to see you here...always.
      Bon appétit!

  2. Ah, being the son of a teacher (now headmistress) has made me acquainted with similar things: rose with jhaupata; pens that you need to press the back to open and another small knob on the side to close (you also needed to take out the refills and blow into them to make them work); hand-drawn greetings cards, usually decorated with sketch-pens (I'm talking Classes III-IV here); pen-stands; and embroidered white handkerchiefs with black Bs written on the corners.

    Your blog is also quite informative. For example, I now know that you've either been to or are planning visiting Paharpur; you are currently searching for jobs in New Jersey; and you Facebook while writing official emails.

  3. Thanks a ton Parama for the sheer pleasure of bringing back the essence of childhood...I started reading your blogs from the "Ode to Odeur" post and completed reading all the others that you have written till date...simply marvellous...And your mentioning of Tinu in this post just took me back to school....I still have a couple of copies of "Sadhana" (remember our school magazine!), and just to relive the school days went through them after almost a decade :)

  4. This is what i call 'ballet with thoughts'... or 'thoughts in 3-dimension'. Kudos...

  5. Captivating as usual. And I have shared my teachers' day experience in my recent blog. We definitely have a connection. Take a read if you wish to :-)

  6. Thank you everyone. I am all flattered. :)

  7. Now i need to have rose teas ASAP ! sharing ur article on facebook ... enjoyed reading it :)

    1. Absolutely you must, RR. Also try their apple butter tea. Yummmm!

  8. Hey, Send me ur address... u r the winner of the contest..

  9. Hey send me ur address.. u r the winner of the book give away..

  10. Lovely lovely post. Love your parents. They are truly cool. you are lucky or maybe you more than deserve them. :)



    1. Thank you so much Indrani. I had a lump in my throat. Much love.