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Category Archives: The Age of Innocence

The best times of my life. Period.

‘The mind-forg’d manacles I hear’

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
– W. B. Yeats

I was a feisty eleven-year-old rebel in that winter afternoon. The winter sun shone down temptingly in the garden and the terrace. But all had given the afternoon siesta a miss. So had I. We were all glued to the TV. Doordarshan. A test match was in progress. Indian batsmen were at the crease. A few more runs needed to defeat the archrivals- Pakistan. Sachin was in excellent form.

Prayers were being whispered. Someone swore as another wicket fell. The theatrical voice of the Hindi commentators rang across the room and beyond. In the street outside. Only puppies frolicked in the sun out there, oblivious of the drama unfolding in the drawing rooms.

I was huddled in a corner of the sofa. My mother had just called me a ‘traitor’. Deshodrohi. The word stung me. I had a hundred questions, but I preferred to remain quiet. Poker-faced. My intent eyes were fixed on the screen. A day ago, the flamboyant Shahid Afridi, who had stolen my 11-year-old heart, had scored a blitzkrieg century. I was praying to all the gods whose names I knew among our thirty-three crore-strong pantheon. For Saqlain Mushtaq. For the victory of Pakistan.

To everyone’s dismay, the gods chose to answer my prayers. Sachin fell after scoring a brilliant 136, to Saqlain’s off-spin. India needed only 17 to win. But the tail-enders couldn’t pull it through. Pakistan won by 12 runs.

Sighs of disappointment hovered in the air. Only I pranced around in joy as the Pakistani team celebrated the win. I refused to turn off the television as a smiling Wasim Akram congratulated his boys. My mother repeated the word again. Deshodrohi. Traitor.

I hadn’t known what it meant then. Nor the differences. What made them ‘them’ and what made us ‘us’.

A few months later, before I turned twelve, there was Kargil. Images of war flashed on the same screen during news hour.

It has been almost 15 years since that winter. I am much wiser today. Now, I know.

Or do I?

I remain indifferent to outcomes of cricket matches between the two nations.

But…

Conditioned by History, I have lost my innocence.

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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in The Age of Innocence

 

My Captain Haddocks and Obelixes

“Think where man’s glory
Most begins and ends
And say my glory was
That I had such friends.” 
― W.B. Yeats

Dedicated to (yes, I am intentionally cryptic here): the one with a pure smile, the mint, the goddess of speech, the lover, the one as beautiful as the moon, the welcoming one, the abode of god, the flame, the dew, the one who never extinguishes, the silent ascetic, the limitless one, the tradition, the calm beauty, the one who unites with god, the king who reigns as a saint, the one who knows and another one who doesn’t have a fancy name

“All Scorpios are highly selective in friendships. They’ll keep the worthy companions through an entire lifetime, and freeze the shallow, the common or the unworthy.” Linda Goodman

I was interested in zodiac signs only after I found people exclaiming, “Oh! You’re a Scorpio!” as if I am something to be scared of. After I had read all that I could get hold of regarding Scorpios, I conclude that this is a trait that fits me undoubtedly.

One of the few chemistry lessons that I had enjoyed was the structure of an atom. That the nucleus is at the centre and the electrons navigate around the nucleus in their respective orbits or shells: ‘s’ shell being the closest one and ‘f’ farthest. I have seen my friends in the same way.

I have no all-conclusive definition of the word ‘friend’. I am mostly a live-in-my-own-world kind of person and do not have too many ‘friends’ in the sense it is generally used. The ones to whom this post is dedicated is the longest list I could make, and the aspect that is common to all of them is care. Now that I am more than a quarter of a century old, I don’t think the list is going to change much. The ones I mentioned may fall out, but I do not foresee much addition from here. I have been completely honest, I don’t intend to hurt any of you through my assessment for I love you all and I believe that I am fortunate to meet you, fellow-sailors, as I sail my little boat in the ocean of life.

Although all relationships require a degree of friendliness to grow, this post is only for those whose foremost identity to me is ‘my friend’. I have left out all those who would get in touch once in a while (mainly when they need me), only to disappear and emerge months, even years, later. And the ones who wish me on my birthday (after seeing the reminders in Facebook), ask me what I am up to these days and then forget all about me. For these two kinds, I remain indifferent and pay back in the same coin- birthday wishes. I neither bear grudges nor expect more of them. I prefer to be a small atom. Aren’t the bigger ones unstable and radioactive?

Only four (or three? I give the benefit of doubt) neutrons and protons inhabit with me in the nucleus. These are the ones with whom I connect both intellectually and emotionally, with whom-as the fox in The Little Prince says-I have established ties at the highest level. I hardly speak unless it is necessary, but when I find a worthy companion, I never stop. They are the ones with whom I never stop. They have the same interests as I do and we discuss everything, from philosophy and religion to Harry Potter. I share with them all that I read and write (even the ones I do not publish) and they take care to respond and criticise, they can be very harsh critics at times. They never seem to tire of my ramblings and will listen both patiently and impatiently. They listen, that is what matters. They care to know what I think. They will push me to write and think and do. Often, I am astonished to see their faith in what I can accomplish. They are the ones who take the trouble of calling me up although I don’t. The ones who will share with me every time they get to do something new or good, to see or to eat, even when I can’t keep my promises. They are the ones who give without calculating what they would receive in return. I am always the one sending them return gifts, they begin it. It seems I am quite selfish when it comes to them! I promise to make amends. These are the closest ones whom I allow inside that impenetrable nucleus. I do not need shields or masks before them and I can tell them whatever I feel, I don’t need to pretend and put up the sham. I do not care if they forget my birthday. But they care enough to make sure that they don’t! Birthdays or no birthdays, these are the ones I treasure most. They are the ‘kindred spirits’, as Anne Shirley of Green Gables would say. Yes, they are the Piglets, Diana Barrys and Gilbert Blythes, Huck Finns, Heathcliffs, Rons and Hermiones, the tunes that sing in harmony to my song. As Walt Whitman says, “I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends,” I don’t believe that I deserved them. The most these friends can do for me is to be my friend for the rest of our lives, which I believe they will.  The nucleus gives the atom mass, so they are the ones that make me what I am in a big way. Interestingly, the Big Four belong to the four different elements- fire, earth, air and water- according to their zodiac signs. No more hints. 😉

There are some who don’t bother to know what I think or read or write. But that does not mean they do not care. They do that in their own way. They would not think twice before helping me out if I am in a fix. I hardly converse with them, often not because of a need to converse, but to show that I care. And I run out of things to say to them. But I know I can turn to them when I need them, and they will be there. They are the sentinels of electrons that guard my atom-fortress. I don’t think they are any less important, it is these that determine the nature of the element, don’t they?

Most mentioned above, however, fall somewhere in between. The ‘s’, ‘p’ and ‘d’ shells. There are variations of many kinds in this group. They confide in me with their secrets and can be great confidantes, too. If they ever read what I write, it is not because they are interested in what I am thinking, but that they do not want to hurt me. Some of them however do occasionally enjoy reading what I write. They too would help me in times of need and can often inspire me, show me the right way and give valuable advice at times when I feel lost. I can discuss many things under the sun with them (but not all) and they will be honest with me. We share a beautiful companionship, but our interests differ, and they do not exactly fit into the mould of ‘kindred spirits’. They care about my well-being and I care about them, but the attachment is limited because we are made of different stuff. They are the particles in motion, constantly shifting from one orbit to another, but they can’t break into the nucleus, however close their orbits hover around. One of them has the potential, I believe, but we do not spend much time together. With some of them, I had shared a close camaraderie at some point of time in my life, but not any more. Despite that, we keep in touch, help each other in times of need and recollect old memories.

This reminds me of another tribe whom I have not dedicated the post to. The ones who had been great companions at some time and have moved on. I have tried to reach out to them many times, but they have not cared enough to reciprocate. They are those autumn blossoms that do not bloom again in spring. I cherish my memories with them, but with a dint of sadness. Although I wish I should have better invested the time I spent to reach out to them with my ‘kindred spirits’, I do not bear any ill-will. I shall like to see them do well in their lives. And there are the ones who need me at times and I help them. But I rarely need them. As long as they do not turn into the fiends mentioned later, which hopefully they would not, my best wishes are with them.

I have no siblings but I have huge extended families on both sides. I have witnessed the hypocrisy and betrayal of the ones I had loved dearly. From estranged brothers to slandering aunts, I have seen it all and I think I know better who my real family consists of. Not all my family is as bad as it sounds here, I love them, but yes, some of them have hurt me much more than any friend ever has. So I need to set my priorities right. It was Arjun, a brother, who killed Karna (and that too, treacherously), not Duryodhan, the friend. My friends are the family handpicked by my soul, not arbitrarily determined by my genes. 

Then, there are the fiends. Shallowness and hypocrisy are my two words for them. They are the ones that pretend to be the most caring, do not hesitate to ask for my help when they require it and again, will not hesitate in bad-mouthing me in public or spreading rumours about me. I can go on, but I do not want to spoil my post spewing venom at them. Instead, I would thank them for awaking me from the slumber, for prompting me to take stock and be grateful to my core circle and henceforth, become completely private.

The last one in the dedication list is a childhood playmate who spent time playing the age-old game of ‘rannabati‘ with me. She was the one who shaped the leaves into ‘luchis’ and brought the fine sand to make rice. Her mother was the maid in our house. I had taught her how to read back then and she listened when I read out the poems. But she hated school and soon dropped out to work with her mother. She was married off at an age when I was still playing cricket in the streets and the only problems that haunted me were geometry riders. (She is hardly a year older than me). Now, she is a mother of two school-going children, has separated from her husband and works as a maid. Even today, she cares to find out how I am doing and wishes me well.

The first one is my Helen Burns. I had always wanted to write something on what she means to me but words have failed me. I befriended this vivacious girl with plaits and ribbons when I was eight. Besides those silly games, sillier quarrels, bitter fights, we shared a unique solidarity. She was the one ‘kindred spirit’ since those days, before I knew the term. She was the one who taught me to imagine and invent. To dream. The one with whom I pretended to be an explorer, own islands (we had chosen the Falkland Islands as they are side by side) and go on treasure hunts in secret tunnels and dungeons under huge castles. Now, I realise that she was the Treasure. My memories of school are incomplete without her smiling face. From my first Famous Five book to Little Women, from discussions on Mahabharat to slambooks, she remains. As we grew up, I knew of that aura of melancholy that pervaded her, but I failed to live up to our friendship. I failed to be Jane Eyre. I had been too selfish and mean to reach out to her when she needed me the most, to make her share her grief with me and I can’t forgive myself for that. Perhaps, I did not deserve her. I guard everything that I still have of her: the photo-frame, an inane game in which we pretended to be super-sleuths, the slambook page and the memories. Dear Suchismita, rest in peace. Indeed, there will be a time when we meet again.

And the rest of you, thank you for being there. I will not let go of you. You won’t either, will you?

Time will answer that better. Till then, I choose to trust you.

Signing off, with love, the one born at the end of the evening

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Life and Times, The Age of Innocence, Tributes

 

Pearls of time

Those were the best of times. School, I guess, becomes a haven when you discover the joys of the breaktime. The times when we forged friendships, played meaningless games, shared the pleasures of a simple French toast or luchi-alu bhaja, laughed at someone or just fought over some trivial issue. The times that went by too fast, in a blink of the eye. The times when we rolled in the sands of the school ground, celebrating our best years of life, despite our shoes being filled with sand and the white shirt being smeared with the droppings of the crows overhead. Then the hurried washing off with water from the school tap, that stained it all the more, and then the bell would ring, and scurrying back to the line and going back to the classes. All in 20 minutes. And all agreed it was too short.

And here comes the silly games. It started with ‘Ring-a-ring-a-roses’ and falling altogether on the dust. Then came ‘colourman’, where you needed to choose a colour before the colourman caught hold of you. Following were ‘whispering game’, ‘the golden river’ (another version of the kumir danga), ‘Help sister help’, ‘Lock and key’, or just Antakshari and various versions of it invented by us and many others. Most of the times the tiffin would carelessly be dropped from the box, and dogs with wagging tails would come to eat it. And the rest of the group would be busy sharing the tiffin with that poor girl or boy, to prevent him or her from being famished.

Despite the fights and quarrels, the solidarity of friends when we fell and bruised a knee, or trying to search for a belt that fell off during the course of the play was amazing. Going to the PA’s room for dettol or savlon or rummaging amid the lost and found items.

However, the evil machinations of growing up changed all that, as soon as we were assigned with prefect duties. Now, it was our task to coordinate the lines made by those young kids and taking them back to classes, when those poor kids were enjoying the best years of life.

Never realised that the best years of life passed by when I was dreading mom’s scolding for losing the belt or staining my shirt with crow’s droppings. The sands of time that I needed to hold back and treasure. For they were not sands. They were pearls of time.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2011 in The Age of Innocence

 

Tryst with my favourite game

Long ago, someone had asked me a question, “Do you watch cricket or the cricketers?”

I gave one of my very mischievous smiles and said, “Both.”

It was with a World Cup that I came to know about this sport that kept me bewitched for years. Wills World Cup 1996. It was the time when I loved watching ads on TV. And cricket matches were filled with them. One after every over and wicket.

But soon dad told me that what goes on in between the ads is also worth watching. And that was when I learnt the A-B-C of cricket. Before that, I just knew that India’s captain was Mohammad Azharuddin. There was Sachin and there was Kambli. That’s all. Dad showed me pictures of the cricketers and I soon came to know about Shane Warne. And that Brian Lara was a great batsman.

The first match I saw (yes, in between the ads) was India vs West Indies. I desperately wished that Lara would be out soon, and he was! Just for 2 runs. India won. Next was India and Australia. Mark Waugh scored a century and India lost. Made quite a sad face. Then, India vs Pakistan. Rejoiced, danced around when India won. (Without even understanding why Pakistan was our rival).

After India lost in the semis, I had keenly supported Australia. But they lost too. Sri Lanka was all smiles.

In the next World Cup 1999, I was better prepared. On the cricket front, I knew all about World Cup history and was delighted to find that Australia had won the year I was born. (I had become a hard core fan of Australia by then.) And 1999 was a repeat of 1987. I had by then learned the technicalities of the game—the difference between off and leg spin, what was a pull, a hook, a cut or a leg glance and what was a silly point and a gully. I had also learned to appreciate the clean straight drive, a dashing pull, a perfect cover drive, a brilliant catch, a tidy over, irrespective of the team I was supporting.

And just after World Cup 1996, another thing struck me. Why do we always support India? And why do we always wish the other team to fare badly? Like in a match against Pakistan, Saeed Anwar was unbeaten in the 90s, and everyone wanted him to get out before he scored the century. This surprised me. They weren’t our enemies (at least, not mine). They too were playing for their country. Okay, India should win, but what’s wrong in his scoring a century? He had played a brilliant innings, after all.

Maybe that’s when the first thoughts of internationalism came to my mind. I started supporting the better teams, who wouldn’t disappoint me with losses. All that I wanted was the joy of winning and India, during the late 90s, didn’t have the potential to fulfil my wishes. So after changing sides from Sri Lanka to Pakistan, I finally stuck to Australia and South Africa. At home, everyone called me ‘ghar shotru Bibhishon’, but I always said, “I will support whoever I like. And supporting the cricket team isn’t the only way to prove your loyalty to your country.”

Similarly, the thought of just supporting only Kolkata Knight Riders disgusts me. I am not even a Kolkatan, after all, why should I support those losers when there are better teams like Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Chargers?

And as for watching cricketers, I wasn’t lagging behind. Shahid Afridi had just come in the arena with his dashing batting and more dashing looks, he became a childhood crush and remained one. (That was another reason of backing Pakistan.) Then came Stephen Fleming, Brett Lee, Mark Boucher, Zaheer Khan.

The match-fixing scandals were a big blow to my enthusiasm for cricket. And I was really sorry to see another favourite Hansie Cronje involved in it. Slowly, my fascination over South Africa withered away, and it was just Australia. Became a big fan of Steve Waugh’s shrewd captainship, Adam Gilchrist’s blasting batting and Glenn Mcgrath’s neat bowling. And the fact that Saurav Ganguly became the captain of India didn’t help in bringing my loyalty towards India (Never liked the prince of Kolkata, may be because of everyone being too hyped about him).

March 13, 2001 was a big day for me, when I went to see the test match of India vs Australia. But I soon realised it was better to see it on TV instead of the sweltering heat of the stadium, amid absolutely crazy crowds. Meanwhile, I also started reading about cricket more and more, Don Bradman’s Farewell to Cricket was a favourite of mine. It was while reading that I got to know that there were better things than just breaking records. Like when Courtney Walsh didn’t run Inzamam out, and Pakistan went on to win. Like Mark Taylor equalling and deciding not to break Bradman’s 334. Like Adam Gilchrist deciding to walk.

World Cup 2003 was another mad cheering for Australia. And a win again. In between 2003 and 2007, my attention turned to tennis and Roger Federer. So, cricket took the backseat. The fever was back during World Cup 2007. But with Bob Woolmer dying, it became more of a crime story rather than cricket. And by then, my fascination for Australia was on the wane. It wasn’t the old Australian team any more. Still supported it because of just one favourite, Adam Gilchrist. And Gilchrist didn’t disappoint. Watching that ‘blistering barnacles’ innings in the final was as good as riding a roller-coaster. And perhaps, that was the last match I supported Australia.

Between 2007 and 2011, I was back to supporting India, but not quite with the same craze. Mahendra Singh Dhoni wasn’t like Ganguly, and he soon became a favourite when he said his favourite was Gilchrist. So, in 2011, I wished India should win, at the beginning. But India’s early performance was disappointing, so I wished either India or Pakistan. Again, Shahid Afridi was performing well and he had remained a crush, after all! At last, when India won I was happy. But hated the madness about it. Much ado about nothing. After all, what would anyone gain apart from those 11 players? Joy was fine, but frenzy wasn’t.

But this Cup had loads of positives for me. With the resignations of Ponting, Vettori, Graeme Smith, Sangakkara—it’s time for change. All these teams, I hope, will become more competitive. India is at the helm and Pakistan has made a remarkable comeback. Even the minnows are coming off well. However, I feel sorry for West Indies. What a team it was during its heyday! And with the departure of Lara, the team looks as battered as earthquake-afflicted Japan.

I sincerely wish that the soil of West Indies will produce legendary players once again and I would definitely like to see them getting hold of the cherished trophy again, someday (I missed 1975 and 1979, I wasn’t born!).

And for the next World Cup, I wish either New Zealand or South Africa or England wins. They have played a lot, now it’s their turn.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2011 in The Age of Innocence

 

Letters of note

With the advent of phones, letter writing has become history.

My first letter was written in an indecipherable language, when I was less than three years old. I had seen ma writing letters to Dadu. I wanted to do the same and I was not ready to accept that I didn’t know how to write. So I filled a postcard with scribbles and ma wrote the address and a post script (that I had tried to write to dadu). I got a reply soon, which ma read out. Dadu said, Sneher didibhai, I am very happy to get your letter, though I did not understand the writing. I have however, tried to guess the meaning.” Then something about how many rhymes I had learnt. And whether I was being naughty or not.

When I learnt to write, Dadu was no more. I wrote a lot to Dida. About what I did in school.  Asking her to take care of her health and have the medicines on time. How big my cousin Moonie had grown. Whether she can talk now. Enquiring about the well-being of all in the family. And received a lot of replies.

Sometimes, I even drew pictures on my letters. And always received a lot of appreciation. One day, I received a postcard full of red scribbles. And a post script from my mamima: Ei lal daag guli moonie mum (that’s me) ke chithi lekhar chesta koreche. (Moonie has tried to write a letter to Mum through these red scribbles)

Till date, that’s the best letter I have received.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2010 in Life and Times, The Age of Innocence

 

To Teachers, With Love

I removed the post on teachers as I felt much has been left unsaid about many teachers. I have missed mentioning  many teachers. May be I will write one about teachers properly after sometime.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2010 in The Age of Innocence, Tributes

 

Lost moments

I miss you! A truth I have felt all throughout my life. And I hate missing.

From early childhood, I used to cry when my parents went to work. Because I missed them. Both of them used to leave while I was sleeping. When I went to sleep at night, I tightly clinged at my dad’s vest and mom’s sari tightly in my little hands. As a precaution. That they won’t be able to go. Never did I realise that they would change the overnight clothes. Never did I realise that I was trying to hold back Time.

Many times I had accompanied my dad to the hospital outdoors. And my mom to the school. All because I hated being away from them.

Yes, being away. A separation. From all those whom I loved. That saddened me. Like it saddens all. But I can’t get over it. Often in moments of loneliness, the pain rekindles like a fire sparking underneath the ashes.

Dad used to go to our village in weekends. On Friday night I used to be glued to him, as if to make-up for the time he would be away. Often my cousins came to visit our place. When the vacations were over and it was time for them to go back, I cried. A separation, yet again. When I used to visit my maternal uncle’s place, I cried when I had to come back. Even to this date, though I don’t cry anymore, my mood remains sullen.

And it’s not just with people. It was the same pain when I lost my toy car. When I broke my plastic doll. When a crayon was lost. When my balloons got deflated.

My maternal grandfather died when I was only three. So I did not feel the pain as intensely. But somehow I knew. Nobody was going to call me the ‘only one’ anymore. (I was the only girl of the generation in mom’s family then).

Then going to school was also a big separation. I cried and howled when my mother bade me goodbye for the pre-nursery school. But when I went to St. Michaels’, I had become used to it. So I didn’t cry any more.

School soon became another haven. With all friends over there, I used to miss not going to school on holidays. But again separation from the same friends meant the relapse of that pain. A mere change of seats saddened me. I remember how I refused to go to school when Poulomi, my best friend was down with measles and was absent.

When we shifted to our new house, I loved it. A room of my own. But I missed my old neighbours, an elderly couple, Sikdar dadu and dida. Sikdar dadu’s vast stock of stories that I used to listen. How he taught me Urdu. The alif, bey. (I had even learnt reading it, but have forgotten everything after that). And the delicacies dida used to make, whenever I popped into their flat. I had spent more time in their flat than ours.

The most painful separation within my life of eight years came when our old Maruti 800 was sold away. I had stopped speaking to dad for a week. As he was the one to sell it. The new owner had to call up and assure me that my car was fine. Yet, I never saw it again. I still remember its number WB-40 7393. I still look forward to seeing it someday. It had been our first car. I remember the excitement when I saw it first. I felt like it was a being of its own, having feelings of its own. As if it was a pet of mine.

Though we got a new car soon, I missed my old one. I refused to ride on the new car for many days. Gradually, I understood and started loving my new car. But that took a long time.

The next blow was when Ronnie, one of the two of my best childhood buddies (the other being Dumpee), left our locality and shifted to a new place. That finished the days of the three musketeers. Gone were our intense cricket-expert like discussions, those games of cricket on the backyard, the exchange of cricket cards, the Jhulan celebration, going to tuitions together and so many more memories that I can’t possibly list here. (That would require another post in my blog).

Changing of sections in new classes also agonised me. When I was in 7th, I missed all my friends who went to different sections. In 9th again, I missed Soumyashree, who used to sit next to me in 8th.

During the board exams, grandpa passed away. I did not get to see him in his last moments. I remember the last time speaking to him in our dining room, before my boards. While I was still sleepily brushing my teeth, he started narrating how he had completed his studies amid lot of struggles, and that he expected lots from me. I was the one in the family who could achieve a lot, he had said. Though I haven’t been much of an achiever yet, I wished he had lived to see my whopping 95% in the boards, topping my school in the higher secondary and topping the charts of Presidency College. That’s what I miss now. If only he had seen these. He would have been so happy. If there’s a place called heaven and if someone can see me from there, I am sure he knows it all, and is still showering me with blessings.

Again change of school. I missed my old teachers. I could never accept Bidhan as my school. Missed all those who went to arts. Missed Dumpee who went to a different school. Our only link was maths tuition, and we managed to have lots of fun over there.

Gradually again, made new friends, new tuition teachers. Also missed studying history and geography. Missed the grand English syllabus of ISC. Missed studying Shakespeare for exam. But continued reading them whenever I was free. But the Bengali syllabus satisfied me.

Next came college. Now a separation which I hadn’t faced before. Being away from home. I became terribly homesick, left the hostel. And each thing that entailed me doing something which I did not do regularly at home brought back the pain. Washing clothes. Washing utensils. Late nights. Those yucky veggies on the plate. Filling up bottles of water. Traveling by bus. No car. Nor my favourite bicycle. The bicycle has turned old and rusty. But I have still kept it. It’s a treasure.

When I was in my 2nd year, maternal grandma passed away. Again a loss. Terrible. Even now whenever I visit my mom’s home, I avoid entering her room. The emptiness that hollers in there is terrible. Within a year, another dida passed away. Another emptiness. All gone now. All loving grandparents. I often feel if there are ghosts or spirits in the real world, it would have been much nicer. I would have then seen them, spoken to them, and wouldn’t have missed them. But whoever I told of this thought was shocked at this. Especially my mom. Beats me why.

Reaching Delhi IIMC hostel, I missed home once more. Especially in weekends. No homecoming. Have to wait till Diwali holidays. Found a kindred spirit in Reeti, who too, had come all the way from Bhubaneswar and missed her home. After a lot of sobbing and grumbling, both of us soon got used to it. Started enjoying life there.

Except when I was sick. Cried like hell the night I had fallen from the hostel stairs and hurt my knee. And when Shikha asked, “Mummy ki yaad aa rahi hai?” That made me miss mom all the more.

Missed the typical fish and rice. Rushed to Shambhu’s dhaba at JNU every Sunday. And cursed the hostel food with Debaleena. In Bengali. Missed speaking it so much that we spoke in Bengali when others were around. Often felt how the UPiites got irritated as we spoke. Still, we continued, cursing their food habits. And cursing every other thing about them which we found alien.

But as the end neared, I felt how much I would miss IIMC and the hostel. Now, back in Kolkata, I miss my room. My balcony. Overlooking a tennis court of the Mohenjo Daro era with flower pots on it.  Also Shikha’s balcony. The view of Qutab Minar from Shikha’s balcony. I miss Vaagisha’s room. Both she and her room had a calmness I haven’t seen anywhere before. And Vaagisha playing the keyboard at night.

And of course, I miss Shikha’s room. Where we fought, made up, gossiped, shared secrets, mimicked and well, what not. Also Ruby’s room. And Debaleena’s room. And…too many to name.

Not just rooms. I miss everything. I miss Lokpria storming in my room to grab the muri. (I had even hidden it!). I miss having McDonald’s burgers with Akanksha. Miss cricket related talks with Surekha. Miss teasing Reeti regarding Bangalore Royal Challengers. I miss chatting with Sruthi. Miss chai at Javed bhai’s shop. Miss JNU. Miss chatting at Brahmaputra. Strolling at Ganga dhaba. And eating. At Teflas, Mughal Darbar, North-east Dhaba, 24×7. Miss having biryanis of Mughal Darbar with Vaagisha. And late night discussions with her. Regarding Sudan’s Darfur. Or the Twilight series. Miss Farah. And the late night at Koyna hostel. Where we watched Antaheen till 3.30 am. Miss Ber Sarai. Going to the ATM. Having momos.

And miss many other little things. Giving the dhobi my clothes. Coaxing mess bhaiyas for an extra bowl of sewaiyan. Giving all those fruits to the Safaiwali aunty. Chatting with the caretaker Madan Singh. Signing the attendance sheet of the hostel.

Then I miss Delhi office. Training sessions. HT Edge. Those numerous Chai with Shreya. (Here, you have to pay Rs 5 for each cup of chai. So I have stopped having tea.) Sharing lunch with Himani. Pulling Hariya’s leg. Giving code names for nasty people. (Though they seem to be angels when I see the devils here). Complaining how none mails me in the office mail. (Now these PR people are sending too many mails). Having pizzas together with Shreya. Teasing her. Besides, ogling at some. Complaining how the FIFA has hijacked the limelight from my Wimbledon. She teasing me when Federer lost.

All good things come to an end. But why does each episode have to end just when you start relishing its pleasures? Just when I started liking Delhi, I came back to Kolkata. And now, I miss everything. Every little thing from my dream-like childhood to the year at Delhi.

And I will miss many things later. If only Time could be constant. If only I had that Time Turner. To go back once in a while to revel in the best of times. To savour those moments once again.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2010 in The Age of Innocence