Everyday as I cross the stretch from Chandamri to Guwahati Club, my head turns to the right robotically when I pass by the place what at one point used to be my home, my playground.
It is a strange feeling, it always has been. What used to be a home filled with people roaring with laughter, whiff of good food in the air and kids running helter skelter all around is now filled with strange and unknown faces.
If I could go back in time or had a rewind button, I’d love to go back to those wonderful growing up years I spent in our Silpukhuri ghar.
I secretly nursed some amount of pride for living in such a beautiful house. This feeling was an acquired one though. In school, often not only my classmates but even their parents would tell me, “Oh! You stay in that beautiful house? It is palatial”!
Guwahati was a small during those days, with a handful of people. It seemed everyone knew where I stayed without giving them directions or a landmark. Rather our house was a landmark of sorts for most of them.
I have faint recollections of Koka, who was addressed mostly as Tarun Dodaideu or Momaideo. Koka was one person who liked everything right on dot and down to a tee. With Koka around you, you actually did not require a watch or a clock showing you the time. His schedule was such; you’d know its 3.00 p.m when he would come out and sit in the varendah waiting for this post-nap tea. Or it’s 7.00 p.m when he had his pre-dinner tea.
Every morning I would be intrigued with his three sets of magnets, which he used as a therapy. I was particularly fascinated with the smallest of three, a pair of black magnets which he’d keep below his ear lobe, on the either side of his neck. My turn would come once he was done and I thought those magnets would relieve me from my tonsils and I could savour ice-creams to my heart’s content.
Koka was also a reservoir of stories and jokes. It was so much fun hovering around him. No matter how much mischief we did, he never raised his voice or scolded us.
And one fine day he left us. By no means could I comprehend why people were mourning and grief stricken. I wondered why Koka had to go, leaving us behind.
I wish I could have spent some more time with him. It surely would have been a great learning experience.
Aita is the woman who made me what I am today. Mostly Usha Khurideu or Mamideu to one and sundry, she had an ageless endurance, a quality I’d like to imbibe.
We kids were terrified of her. She was so Hitler-ish! But now I realize how important it was on her part to be like that. Somebody had to take control and pull in the reins.
Aita had a green thumb and was an avid gardener, be it flowers or vegetables and fruits. Sirikanto (spelt Srikanto!) her Man-Friday I know despised me to some extent and in great measures. I would have done the same if I were in his place. It’s not amusing to have a wild child running around the kitchen gardens, poking the buds of cauliflowers with little fingers, watering the plants so much that it would be muddy and eventually never live long enough to bear fruits and flowers!
So Aita came up with a great plan. She asked Sirikanto to make bed for me and with his help; I sowed tomatoes, carrots, eggplants and peas. Never did I care to bother the other vegetables again and till this day I find plants and flowers very soothing.
Aita is the one who let me discover the joys of baking too.
I don’t remember having best friends in school as such, because Silpukhuri Ghar was always filled with kids all the time and who needed to search for friends outside when we were a bunch of cousins spending a whole lot of time together, playing games and pranks mostly, sharing secrets (some are there till today) and even bathing together.
We were a bunch of super mischievous kids, always with a wound on the knee or forehead or mud all over clothes. And this bunch had its share of nasty fights, groupism, best friends, favoritisms as well. Pomi, Maini, Pallav, Montuli, Niki, Viki, Nirmali, Abhi, Annu & me teamed with Baby & Raja (our neighbors) was definitely a motley crew; a dirty dozen!
If I had to manage such a group it’d surely give me heart attack! I truly appreciate Aita’s patience in tolerating us and the ruckus we created when we all would be together. So yelling at us was but natural!
Growing up together has been truly wholesome. That was more than two decades ago. Now all the communication happens through phone calls or social networking between this gang, one on one. I wish our kids had a chance to meet and mingle like we did.
When I tell stories of my childhood to my daughter, she gazes at me in awe and all this is like a fairy tale to her. My girl by now knows who is who, through photographs I show her in Facebook or by the stories she has heard and a few she has met too.
This is my ode to the wonderful memories I have, to the people I have grown up with and to my lucky stars to be alive and tell this tale.
And I know I will ceaselessly treasure these memoirs until and unless dementia and Alzheimer's hit me. And in that case my girl will retell me these letting me relive the moments again!
Koka - Grandfather
Aita - Grandmother
Dodaideu - A father's younger brother
Momaideu- A mother's younger/elder brother
Khurideu - Wife to father's younger brother
Mamideu - Wife to mother's younger/elder brother