19.9.05

For old times' sake

On Sunday morning, as I lay half asleep on the bed, I smelt childhood. The smell of Quality Street biscuits. The memory of the round tin with the buttery biscuits that I loved chomping down. It was weird because suddenly I thought of all the people I had almost pushed to the back of my mind, to the extent that now I have trouble remembering some of their faces and names. They were old people I knew as a child. For instance, there was Mr X (just can't remember his name) whose house was called The Haven. It was extremely ironical because his son had committed suicide in that very house. He was a sad man, my dad used to say. But to me he was a friend who used to call me Wax, play cards with me and chat with me for hours.

Then there were my three old neighbours. Their houses are opposite to ours. The extreme left hand side is the only one who is still alive. But Mr D doesn't talk to anybody now. I wonder why. He used to take me to the circus and whenever I used to catch sight of his wife we would wave to each other from our respective balconies with much vigour.

The other two are dead. Sometimes I forget it. And I expect them to be there when I go back. One of them, the owner of the house in the middle (It was the prettiest of them all. It was a small villa with flowers all over), was especially dear to me. Mr S had a swing in his house. And every day at 5 in the evening, I would be there to take a ride. I felt very privileged. After all it was not a community park thing that I would have to share with others.

Except that his dog Pixie was a bit intimidating. Initially she would growl and growl (I would make faces at her) but slowly she became used to me. Later I stopped making faces at dogs. Thanks to my friend Amy's dog Teddy, the hugest alsatian I have ever seen. The day he chased me and my other friend Sudakshina all over Amy's place (I happened to have pointed fingers at him which Amy had told me not to), I lost my fear of dogs. So with time I learnt to ignore Pixie even when she was in a black mood.

Mr S died in London. His mother is still alive and a broken woman. She hates the fact that has outlived both her sons.

Dr D, the third of my neighbours, used to give me medicines on every occasion. When I suffered from tummy aches to when I ran high temperatures. Last time I went back home, he was there. Now he isn't.

I miss them.

And there's a relative - an aunt's husband. I have seen him as a healthy man who would sit back and enjoy his drink, drive around a contessa with much pride. We used to live at the same time in Oman. They returned to Calcutta soon after us. I have the fondest of memories with him. Whenever I would meet him, I would plant a kiss on his cheek. It became a ritual with us except for when I grew up. Their house is near to ours in Saltlake. It is an ornate house with his paintings all over it.

When I was in college, I visited his place and carted out a huge canvas that was unfinished. After that whenever I visited his place, he ask me to bring it back for him to give it the finishing touch. He never got the chance. One day he had a stroke. Now he lies on his bed with one half of him paralysed. When I visited him last October, he saw me and tears ran down his cheeks. He couldn't speak. He had to be fed like a little baby by a nurse.

How things change. And how they make one overwhemingly sad.

26 comments:

Vignesh said...

Your post sent my down a very rapidly spiraling path of lost memories - lost people. A little part of me says, you should cherish such memories. Hold them close, they were people you knew and loved and were loved by.

But in the end, I guess if you aren't feeling that way right now then its kinda hard to cherish or even believe the fact that you EVER were.

Fraile emotions fray the edges of fraile memories.

Rat said...

Just curious as to why you were called wax ?

Moving Post.

the cowlick said...

sweet :)

Penny Lane said...

Its pretty depressing to go back home and find everything around it changed! But you have the memories to hold on to!

There's a damn funny story about Rat, me and an Alsatian named Arnie... will have to tell it one day!

AB said...

Vignesh: Why the frail with an e at the end?

And is that a quotation at the end?

Rat: Oh that's easy. It was my pet name. Lemme know the url. But why the move?

Cowlick: Thanks. But its funny how you remember things suddenly.

Penny Lane: Waiting for a post on Penny, Rat and Arnie:)

Parna said...

times changes. people move on, figuratively and otherwise, but memories remain.

touching post. feel much the same about the people from the past. and you lucky thing. going to calcutta for pujo. have a blast. and salt lake eh? :) i was in new alipore.

thalassa_mikra said...

I do wish I can write about those that people my memories as you do: simply and elegantly, with feeling.

I was confused about the Wax nickname and then I speculated that perhaps you are transliterating from Bengali. It makes more sense in Bengali than English. Am I correct?

Vignesh said...

*embarrassed look* I could have sworn that frail was spelt with an 'e' at the end. Now it looks like I forgot the 'g' for fragile :(

No, thats not a quotation. Why ? Have you heard something similar somewhere ?

Rat said...

Hahah. I met that your post was moving as in "touching ". Im not moving anywhere.

AB said...

Parna: I am already feeling very excited. It's been a year you know. It's odd but I haven't been much to the New Alipore side. I guess that's because I lived so far away in Saltlake.

Thalassa: Thanks babe. Yes yes in Bengali. Now you know my pet name:)

Vignesh: Aha! No wonder I was reminded of old english terms:)

Ok now let's put it together: 'Fragile emotions fray the edges of fragile memories'. Nice.

Rat: Sheesh. Now I am embarrassed...

PS said...

You almost transported me to Anita Desai-like world. But you know what, if you keep visiting the gentleman, it'll cheer him up even while he's bed-ridden. He'll be happy even with all those IV tubes attached to him, and if he cries, it'll be out of sheer joy over your visit. At the end of the day, you would have done a good deed by making someone happy without seeking anything in return :)

PS said...

Listen, it can't be. I just posted a new blog and guess what, its titled the same!!!! But its so much more depressing....

Vignesh said...

Or to put it another way,

Frail emotions fray the edges of frail memories.

You can say it, cmon. You can tell me how good that was. It was so good, you thought it was a quote ;) No no ?

First Rain said...

Footprints,
On sands washed over time,
Hold the grains of future pearls,
In the life past, they mime.


Hi!

And I lov those shoes you have in the pic. I just cannot figure out why!

AB said...

PS: Have to check it out. But you know when I visited him, I couldn't take it. Not him. He is one of my favourite uncles. You feel so bloody helpless you know.

Vignesh: I have to say it again...boast boast;)

First Rain: That's lovely. Did you write that yourself?

Why thank you for liking the shoes!:)

Vignesh said...

Hrrmpf. I see I got a bit too excited there. You apparently do that with EVERYONE who comes by and says something nice !!

And thanks a lot Frainy ! :P

;)

AB said...

Vignesh: Welcome Froasty!:)

Vignesh said...

I have to admit, I didn't get that.

Frainy is what I call First Rain. I've called him that for a whole while now. He has never called me Froasty.

So whats Froasty ? As in First Roast ?

Mint Chutney said...

Nice post AB.

My parents were the last of the old-timers to move from the neighborhood I grew up in. I've driven past a few times and it's weird to see a whole new generation of kids there.

AB said...

Vignesh: No. How on earth am I to know that you call First Rain Frainy? Froasty -- something to do with that old adjective boasty:) Easy na?

Mint: Thanks. But sometimes, you know, sometimes (I am happy with the way life has turned out) I wish I could hang onto old days and old timers.

couchpotato said...

Sad, beautiful post. The flow with which you wrote triggers a thousand latent memories.

AB said...

Couchpotato: Why not let those memories out?

Vignesh said...

Oh so you thought I was calling you Frainy.

Then Fbroasty would have been more apt ! Dont know whats to be fbroasty about, considering that neither of us have understood what the other has said over the past few exchanges ;)

Sonia said...

i fell the same way. lately, i've been going down the nostalgic road every so often. it depresses me.

AB said...

Sonia: Hi welcome:)

Blog World said...

A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist.
Stewart Alsop- Posters.