Happy Memories, Part 3

In the background, I hear the insistent drumbeat of raindrops outside the window. It is a summer afternoon in Calcutta. The stifling heat of the morning has given rise to the “kal-boishakhi” — seasonal downpour — of the afternoon. It takes me back to my childhood days.


Image courtesy indiatimes.com

I spent many happy summer vacation days at my grandparents’ house. It was a stately building near Lake Market, built in the late 1800’s in the traditional style. The floors were made of cool black and red stone. The windows had wooden shutters. The bathroom was far away from the sleeping quarters. The balcony, with its wrought-iron work, ran along the length of the building.

My grandfather had an upright chair in the balcony, and I would perch on the arm of the chair as he sat in it, demanding “just one more story”. In between stories, he would run down to the market half a dozen times each day for supplies so that my grandmother could make me delicious snacks on demand. I was a much petted and spoilt little grandchild.

After all the activity of the morning, the afternoon was reserved for nap-time. That is, my grandparents would nap, and I would disrupt their sleep. Eventually, I grew up enough to leave them alone, and afternoons turned into a delicious solitary time for me. I would carefully select a book from their in-home library, and settle myself onto the broad windowsill of the living room. I left the windows wide open even when the rainwater blew in Β on its wings of the monsoon winds, the winds for which I had been named. In this way, I read an eclectic collection of literature, from Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth” to George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, to a backdrop of thundering rain.

Eventually, the rains would stop, and the heat of the day would rise up again, this time mixed with the sweet smell of damp earth, and the bell of the ice-cream man would ring out in the street, a siren call to me.

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3 Responses to Happy Memories, Part 3

  1. Swami says:

    So how old were you during these memories? Sounds like 6 to 12 at least, if you were reading Animal Farm and the Good Earth!

    The image above seems just like the recent Chennai floods – except that in Kolkata, knee-deep water is a matter of course, apparently! Though admittedly knee-deep water within the house is a different thing altogether.


    • Mimi G. says:

      You guessed the age range right. πŸ™‚


      • Swami says:

        Only because I figured you for a precocious reader! The Good Earth at age 12 … When I was in school an English teacher pushed on me a set of Charles Dickens originals and persuaded me to read them, so yes, I was that way too, though mostly I read trash fiction, then and now. The classic “omnivorous reader”.

        I take it you were quite as spoiled by your parents πŸ™‚

        Pity that we no longer construct such stately homes even for those that can afford them – none of our buildings are designed to last centuries except perhaps public buildings. I guess the good part is that the disposable culture will dispose of itself soon enough, and hopefully we will get back to the type of homes and lifestyles that generate happy memories.


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