Walking down the memory lane…

Back in my school days, I had seen my friends’ excitement for the summer holidays. Among many reasons, the list was topped by the visit to maternal home, a special event in everyone’s childhood. I had the luxury of visiting my mother’s home whenever I want as it’s just 10 minutes away for ours. Still I waited for the summer vacations to meet my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I was no different from my friends; we religiously followed the age old custom of spending your vacation at mother’s house. It is not like we are not visiting there anymore. We do, but not the way we used to be. Things have changed, circumstances are different now, the place itself is the not the same anymore.

I have a lot of memories associated with my maternal home… sweet, innocent, beautiful, naughty and even heartbreaking. There are so many images of that place I treasure inside my heart. Those glorious days when we used to gather there during the vacations are priceless possessions of my life.

Walking down my memory lane I could see a small gathering on the kitchen floor chit chatting to their minds’ content, no one caring about littering their clothes, cooking some stories along with the food on the stove.

And the big room in the middle where we used to sleep juxtaposed on a blanket on the floor, a thin shawl to cover from cold and singing mosquitoes. Sleep was the last thing on my mind then but somewhere during the never ending banters it invaded me only to open my eyes to the blinding sun rays to find the entire house buzzing in morning chores. I was always a late riser.

The attic was my hangout, a secret haven, a place where many things in me started and established… I have the oldest memory of me writing stories and poems at a corner there, a young me drawing on an old tattered book, I recognized my passion for dance there and I used to move around making minimum noises not to scare the inhabitants downstairs, the eeriness of the house was the fodder for my ghost fantasies, my imaginations… and of course my reading flourished there… I remember searching through a heap of books, old college books of my uncles’ or worn out magazines, dusting them eagerly ignoring occasional peeping termites. There was the balcony view of the sunrise and the sunset, vast pastures and farmlands for satisfying the nature lover in me.

Speaking of the nature, this place had a lot more to offer me to devour. The small streams with steep slopes and the square well with tortoise, fishes, frogs and snakes… the rice fields on the other bank… the plants with red tall flowers scattered in the field… the guava, rose apple, jamun and other fruit trees… the birds singing day and night…

And that corner room, where I found the greatest warmth in the world. How should I thank her for loving me so much? I can still smell her hair, her dress with that pungent smell of some medicinal herbs. I can feel her hands caressing me and her eyes watching me sleep. More than a grandmother she was an experience to me, a life time experience. She was a strong woman with a will of iron, the most beautiful woman I had met in my life, both inside and outside. I considered myself as lucky to be born as her granddaughter. I am missing her.

Finally there are a set of steps in front of the courtyard of my glorious ancestral home descending to a small clearing from where I could experience the magic of life through all my senses. I can’t remember the last time I took those steps. They are now vandalized and abandoned. I even don’t remember how many steps are there; I do remember counting them somewhere in the past but forgot the number. I always wanted to recount, but never cared to go down… down to my roots.

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Reminiscence

The wicked lady turning blind due to her greed, the mountain ghost taking a stroll through the village path during the fall, the talking fox who loves homemade sweets… these are mere stories to anyone… some of them, our grandparents iterated over generations… some of them, mankind called the legends… but to a ten year old anxious mind these are the ladders to the skies of imagination to find the attic of wisdom…

And I was fed with plenty of them, thanks to a certain person with her fluffy white hairs and freckled, folded skin. My childhood was filled with such stories and I believe that was one reason I love stories more than truths, I choose fiction over facts, and I adorn imagination over reality.

When you close your eyes, on that brown black canvas there are many layers forming one after other, many lines drawn carelessly, waves scattered around, and these patterns appear and disappear. You can’t hold them as they slip away; they are meant to be that way, just a tease. They are memories of past, snippets of present, hopes of future… They are stories you want but don’t know how to tell. You kept on trying to catch these patterns oblivious to the galloping time, the changing seasons. At long last, on a fine day, you caught one and opened your eyes in joy to share your story to the world, and found yourself lazily sitting on a chair in the veranda. With the faded senses you searched around to see your grandchild romping. Your shivering wrinkled hands beckoned the child, who came and sat on your lap with the most beautiful smile adorning her lips. Placing your dry lips on her forehead, eyes filled with love and heart brimming with prayers, you started telling your stories… one after other… day and night you told her stories… the ghost of all those patterns, those carelessly drawn lines and scattered waves took bodies; and you wove a ladder for her out of them, that takes her to the skies of imagination to find the attic of wisdom.