Past Perfect

Dated – January, 2010

They say start afresh, it’s a new year! Think new thoughts. Make new plans. Some new resolutions, so what if you break them the very next day. The key word is ‘new’. I say stick to the old. 🙂 It keeps you rooted. Came across something that I had written while on my way to Chennai before my internship. No reason for not posting it. Simply put, I forgot. So here it is.

I managed to board my train to Kolkata without any hassles. Baba’s foolproof planning might be a small reason. So, on my way to Bong Land, and then to Lungi Land(Chennai) for two months. Everyone’s already given their fair share of sympathies for the one place I didn’t want to go to, but thanks to some people I know, it’s not a scary thought after all.

I miss home. Every small bit of it. The photographs on the walls. The computer which chooses to restart as and when it fancies. Maach (at 4 in the morning!). Pizza from Sweet Home. The creaky cranky lift. Ma’s despair over the mess I create everyday. Cold coffee. Baba’s lectures and his to do lists. Comparisons with my oh-so-perfect dada. When I am there, I realize how much I miss all this and more. I am probably a misfit. Amidst the niceness, the religiousness, the attention to details, the perfection –  I don’t have much in common, but I know I belong here. In a weird crazy way.

Working parents and a visit home on weekdays means extremely rare conversations. Today evening was one of those rare moments. Chotokaku (chachu), baba and I talking over tea. Am penning this down because I don’t want to forget. Considering my sieve like brain, forgetting things comes pretty easily to me.

These were stories about daadu (my grandfather), thakuma (grandma) and daadu’s brother. Daadu has always been a legend of sorts. I have only heard about him. Daadu was a loud man, voiced his opinions unabashedly without bothering about the rest of the world and their views. He hated rotis, thought they should be banned from the face of this earth. Only parathas and luchis (Bengali puris) deserved a place in this world. His rules for attending any marriage/occasion was that the entire family should eat in the first round itself, lest the hosts fall short of food. Amidst such rules, ma entered the family – a demure convent educated girl. The road that led to our ancestral home was so narrow, that baba had actually taken her there on a rickshaw for the first time. The rule was that the new bride shouldn’t walk to her home! J Many of these functions that ma attended with the rest of the Shome family, daadu would call out loud for her and shout out across the table – aage kheye naao, shesh hoye jaabe! Pore golpo koro! (which means eat first, else it’ll finish. Talk later). Ma and Chotokaku would diligently turn into various shades of red. On hindsight, we kids love to see chotokaku enact and re-enact those scenes.

There was a movie theater right next to our home in Bhagalpur. So close that whenever baba and kaku would get bored, they would go watch 10 minutes of a movie and come back. We shared a common wall. Once some poor soul decided to pee on the common wall. Poor soul because of what I am going to write next. So, daadu’s brother becomes indignant and comes up with a brilliant idea. Asks baba to get hot water. There was this small hole in the wall. They poured steaming hot water on the man on the other side. I guess he would’ve learnt to use the public toilets!

Baba was thrown out of school in class 3. J He had pelted stones on the teacher. I know I belong because I was suspended from school for 15 days for exploding a bomb in school during diwali. I think I had seen pride in baba’s eyes, which had vanished instantly seeing ma’s fury!

Ever got the feeling that you didn’t know your parents too well? I do. All the time. What were they like in college. Did they mess up at times, like I do. Kaku told me today that baba was awesome at fishing. That no one could beat him at carom. That he could give the pros a run for their money in badminton. Do they see a bit of themselves in us, or did we fall short of what they actually wanted us to be?’

This is where I slept off. Did I fall short? I don’t know yet. Don’t think I ever will…

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