Touching Base With My Roots

A lovely, cozy, nostalgic last evening, over a variety of Bangali crumb-fried fish snacks, followed by awesome homemade dinner of chilli fish, deemer (egg) aar dhokar dalna and peas pulao and ruti – with my childhood best friend and nextdoor neighbour (since my birth when she was 4) Rinku-di’s family. We chatted animatedly even as her husband and son – an engineering student, watched indulgently, about our growing years – of the games we played like ‘snakes and ladders’ and ‘ludo’ or ‘chor-police’ along with our respective sisters (hers 9yrs elder to her and mine a year younger than me) while practically living in each others apartments during our vacations back home from boarding school.
Ma learnt so much of our secret lives then, only last evening – as the fun ensued after she had left for her college (where she taught) and was wrapped up well in time for her return as we were all scared of her. 😃 In fact only last evening Rinku-di disclosed to Ma how terrified she was of her and recounted how – when Baba took us children to Ma’s college on annual days – we sat so frightfully quietly watching the sports functions and proceedings. Then when clicking these pictures her son asked Ma to smile – to which Rinku-di courageously blurted, biting her tongue – “she has hardly ever smiled.” Ma could not help grinning at her.
She even reminded me of how I wouldn’t talk to anyone in the first few days of being back from school as a child and would keep going around in my tricycle in complete silence, not even replying if anyone spoke to me. 😃
It is an emotional security and well-being enhancing act to touch base with your spread roots, not just your parents. I think after we left the building in North Calcutta we lived in together till when I was 15, Rinku di and I met just a couple of times along with our sisters, the last over 5 years back. She had left when she married but her parents passed away while living there and now she lives in the opposite end of town in South Calcutta.
But I tend to walk around the building and area I grew up in, whenever I get a rare opportunity to go to old Calcutta. I managed sneaking a peek into our old apartment a few years back. The current owner saw me longingly looking at his balcony – where I grew up watching the rain drenched street and invited me up to spend a few minutes at the balcony. I love the sights, sounds and smell of that part of the city which is still frozen in time.
Rinku-di was 4years old when I was born and my father used to play Kabadi with us since I was two and landed up nicknaming her Kabadi. Our whole family and soon many in the building lovingly called her ‘Kabadi’ till we left that home in North Calcutta when I was 15 years to move to Salt Lake. My sister and I were taken to the park regularly as children by maids, but we never played outdoors as we got more than our fill at boarding school.
My father’s lifelong constant effort not to give up on his roots and Ma’s penchat for story telling – after both being uprooted from Bangladesh has always been my inspiration to stay connected to my own roots.

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