Sunday, 5 May 2013

My growing up years in Calcutta and all that it entailed is a thing I rarely talk about, which is probably a good idea. I wouldn't know how to edit. I would start at the middle, proceed haphazardly in either direction, elaborate the inconsequential and race through narrative hooks. I would either over-modulate, or drone on, flinch at imagined boredom, and ignore actual restlessness. I might just become the kind of person people avoid, for fear of being latched on to and sermoned at.

When I am alone though, I give in to a sort of focused reminiscing. 

I pick an incident - a summer evening when I was 14, say. I was at home, working on my English homework in what we called the drawing room. A table had been dragged from the bedroom I shared with my mother, and I sat at it, legs crossed, on a rather hard divan. The windows behind me were open, and the room was awash with the smell from an orphan madhobilata downstairs. 

I had shut the door in order to concentrate, but I could still hear my Grandmother singing the alaap of what I knew was raag malkosh as she chopped and prepped for dinner. She did that everytime she cooked, and sometimes, she would proceed from the alaap to the taan, and I would walk in on her waving a knife in the air as, eyes closed, she dwelled on a particularly satisfying bit of music. 

Also, with the scent of the flowers, and louder than Amma's song, I could hear our elderly neighbour practising her sitar downstairs. To her face, my mother and grandmother called her Mashima and Mrs Shome respectively, and Shome ginni behind her back: in my mind, I called her that as well. She was decently talented,  and as she played the same tune over and over again, I thought it sounded quite similar to the only Sitar music I knew - Ravi Shankar for Pather Panchali.

I have recollected this particular evening so very many times, in as much detail as I possibly can, that I am now able to call upon precise moments of it at will.
Which is what I do. Every now and then.

What I find most interesting however,  is that I had paused then in the middle of my work and thought: I will remember this when I grow older, and think back and feel something - not sure exactly what - about it.


RETA said...

Write more! Your writing is so lovely!

Keya Jatkar said...

Beautiful Java. Nice memories. Some weird but that is why we probably remember them. Odd as they may be.