Saturday, July 07, 2012

Many days, many conversations, many of them quite remarkable and therefore memorable... but the one conversation which comes to mind - the one that haunts - keeps coming back with thoughts in the lines of 'could things have been any different?' is the one from many years back - with the chance remark - I don't even remember the context - about how one's own home is the most comfortable... a harmless remark from all appearances - but one which apparently pushed her on the slippery slope of delusions, depression, maybe even paranoia, to never recover completely... I was in school back then... used to love talking to her - listening to anecdotes, getting to know something about my roots. That was probably one of the last meaningful conversations I have had with her. One I wish, all the time, that I never had.

She was the only one who used to write to me, even when I was quite small. Real letters I mean - on paper with an ink-pen. She used to write in Bengali, and I used to write back to her in the same language. She used to chide me when I made spelling mistakes, or when I had to scratch out a word to correct it. I used to try very hard to write the perfect letter with no mistakes or corrections and in my best hand-writing. The letters reduced in number with time, as her eye-sight weakened, they were no longer as perfect as they used to be, but they were as dear to me as always. I used to keep all her letters in my desk drawer back then - wonder where they are now - must have been lost long ago what with me moving out, and my parents shifting afterwards... 

I used to urge her to write down her memoirs lest all the stories be forgotten one day- she was the only one who could tell me about what happened in the past. How they lived, how her kids, nephews & nieces grew up, about my grandfather - who I never really knew. About relatives & family who I knew only from her stories. About how life was back in those days! About Rhinos in Kaziranga, and Tuskers in Assam. About Assam Oil, the tea plantations, Digboi. About old forgotten far-away places from where I am - but have never been to. And now ... the stories are lost, just as I feared.

I sometimes wonder - how none of the stories were from when she was small - none about her parents, or her childhood home. I did not think about this when I was young. Not until the stories had stopped - and I was old enough to think back and wonder. I really do not know how she was when she was young, what did she do before she got married, what did she like, how her life was. It was as if all this was from another life - as it very well may have been back in those days...

1 comment:

limenlemony said...

Reminds me of my grandparent's stories.. now that I think about it, even they didn't talk much about their own childhood. Most stories were of after marriage and about their work, about the British Raj, about religion and about our parents and uncles and aunts... I recently discovered my Bauji's diary and realised he also wrote poetry, a side which was always hidden from us :o