It is such a conflicted feeling to be back in your ancestral place. At one hand you feel nostalgia and past emotions come rushing back to you. On the other hand, the once big palatial house of your memories is now crumbled and falling apart. The once strong hands that fed you and caressed you, are now trembling and unsure.
The voices full of endearing wisdom, compassion, eager questions and lots of blessings are silenced now. Maybe you should have listened more then. Maybe you should have answered more questions patiently. Maybe nothing needs to change. Death is afterall a definite consequence of life. One day, you too will die and perish in this earth. Your spirit will then resolve unanswered queries of your existence.
The same houses, the same color palette and same display pic amaze you. It is as if they have not aged a minute. Like a black and white picture from your memory. However, dust creeps in and settles in known and unknown space. Spider webs as big as showpiece themselves stare at you from every corner. Frail bones and crumpled skin look at you with tender eyes. There is no solution to aging. And I guess there is no solution to problems growing manifold at every stage of life.
There are so many memories of those you lost. So many moments stored in treasure trove of your journey, you never knew they existed. They surprise you, they tease you. Maybe you could have done more. Who knows. Who can say?
Life becomes an entangled state of affairs with a tedious cycle of education, job, children and then children’s education. One after another. Sometimes you are just moving aimlessly in circles. It is as if you have boarded a train with no destination in mind. You keep looking at different yet similar scenarios.
As you sit in your courtyard, and stare at the patterned walls, the flashbacks of laughter and love of the younger you come back to embrace you. Your mama would sit on his rocking chair and would spoil you with zillions of toffees, chips and sweet candies and you would smile gleefully and hide them in old drawers of his room, lest your mommy would find and scold you. He would chew his paan and would speak hindi in his most delightful bengali accent,and you would roll with laughter.
Your mesho would bring bengali rosogullas and you couldn’t dare resist them even on a full stomach. Your jethu would keep the sweetest of the pineapples for you to taste. Your jethi would cook sumptuous prawn malai curry and it would taste like dollops of heaven. More than the pineapples and prawns, you would enjoy their love and blessings abound.
These courtyard are now empty. The rocking chair is where it always was. It’s occupant now rocking away in baikuntha loka.
You remember the aachar made by your sweet nani and the way she lovingly fed you. That love comes back in her lost eyes fleetingly as she recognizes you for a tiny moment. And then again she disappears into her own memory realm. She calls out to people no more present between us. Her eyes have now run dry. Her once neat and tidy bed sometimes becomes damp at night. You don’t know what you wish for more. For her to remember you or forget you. For her to say your name or for her to erase you out.
Your once cheerful masi stands like a solid rock with stoic silence in her attitude. She slowly collects the pieces of her broken home. She gracefully lays down your lunch plate and serves your childhood favorites. She takes care to mash your rice, but does that serve its purpose now? Does the cold curry fulfill your intents or has it sensed your cold attitude. Has your taste evolved or have you purposefully moved away from her less spicy but more tangy tomato chutney. Would you rather prefer a junk loaded burger for your stomach with Netflix for your eyes and selfishness for your souls.
Your carefree big brother, the apple of everyone’s eyes, your childhood hero, has now sunk in slumbers of alcoholism. Your once darling and beautiful Bhabhi has moved on. Was their love a farce? You wonder. The dream wedding that you lovingly participated in, all a crude joke to end like this.
Your mami, your jethis slowly endure this life. They live with uncertain hopes for future and with past memories of their loved ones deep inside. Their dainty lives revolve around their puja homes and television sets. No more distant dreams. All done and dusted.
Your past stirs up unknown emotions in you. Was it sheer coincidence or you were lucky to move away from your birth town to a town of dreams and possibilities? Had you stayed back, this uncertainity would have been your fate? Once long back, time used to fly by quickly and vacations would be over in a jiffy. But now, time stands still till eternity. Till all your loved ones are dissolved in the shadows of death.
2 thoughts on “Truth of life”
Thank you, Amrita, for these compassionate words. You write as if your hand was guided by the spirit of the Universe.
Thank you Joanna. You are a beautiful human being. ❤