The bells of my childhood still bring happy tunes in my mind, a carefree rhythm, a melody of infinite promises, a soft trail of happiness. My childhood was spent in a happy home on the outskirts of Kolkata in India. I grew up in a joint family amid the love and laughter of my parents and grandparents. Every day came with new energy, and the evenings exuded a party spirit with my grandmothers regaling us with fairy tales and ghost stories. During my childhood days, I used to wait eagerly for dinner when my grandfather whom I fondly called RangaDadu used to tell me of our ancestral home in Dhaka where we were zamindars, of the adventure they confronted there, of the opulence and grandeur amid which they grew up.
The stories of them owning private steamers, horses seemed like a fairy tale sitting in a house in Kolkata. He also told of the hardships they had to ensure due to sudden turn of events which left them no choice but to abjure all their wealth and abscond from their home in the middle of the night to reach the eastern shores of India to escape mortal danger a couple of years after independence. From my grandfather, I got firsthand experience of India under imperialism and India after independence and the differences that came with it.
He used to tell me of the cricket matches they played with the British counterparts, he would proudly assert how venerated our family was in the eyes of the villagers and then would show me pictures of the gigantic mansion that was once ours but now transformed into a museum. Such historical tales along with poetic recitations from prolific authors added an artistic tinge to our evening times where seconds became hours with the entire house being embroiled in those riveting tales and shared laughs only occasionally interrupted by the punctual bells of the grandfather clock.
Another grandmother whom I called Shejthakuma, wife of my grandfather’s brother who also stayed in the same house was literally my playmate. She used to actively support me in all my shenanigans, whether to dress her up like a bride using cheap white powder or to roll her hair in a pathetic attempt to make a braid or to become a villain in a play written by me.
As I started going to school, she became my obedient student on whom I could freely exercise my rights of reprimanding with impunity if she failed to complete her English homework or forgot to memorize the English poems I had assigned her.
My own grandfather left me at a tender age but still, I can vividly picture his joyful smile and the lovely memories I have of him.
Although I am a single child with no siblings, never was there a moment when I had the feeling of loneliness, or of creeping boredom as my home was perennially charged with an optimistic effervescence.
As years went by and one by one my grandparents left me leaving behind a void, so significant that the sharp contours of which still inflict pain. The glorious memories I spent in their company will be my everlasting asset giving me hope in my lonesome forlorn hours and will also be a palpable reminder of their absence the very realization of which brings an agony so deep that no number of tears can compensate.
Old pictures, old books, and cassettes smell so authentic, so natural, so joyful which I find somewhat missing in contemporary times. In this hectic rat race, children spend less and less time with their grandparents and conveniently miss the profound joys that are implicit in their cherished company. I consider myself blessed to have such a glorious childhood spent in the precious company of my loving ones who have not only provided a continuous flow of happiness in my life but have also inculcated good values and wisdom in me and given me golden memories to cherish and love forever.
- The Bliss And Grace Of Heaven – Poem by Aparna Mukherjee
- Beneath the Smells, and Sights…
- Book Review: Eat up, Clean up: Your Personal Journey To A Healthy Life
- Do this to Keep Your Joints Healthy