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Fond Memories

About Aparna Mondal

Aparna Mondal was born and brought up in Kolkata. Presently she lives in Mumbai with her family. She always loved nature and that prompted her to study Biological Sciences. She loves to paint landscape and nature. Her other hobbies are reading, photography, travelling, making costume jewellery, acting, swimming. She has recently developed a special interest in putting her thoughts into writing. Making new friends and interacting with them make her feel loved.

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Prologue :

 

Each one of us have our fond memories of childhood and we treasure them deep in our heart. Grandparents do not stay for ever but the fond memories they leave behind with their children and grandchildren are always remembered with love. I was lucky to have a wonderful set of grandparents from both my mother’s and father’s side and thus had a wonderful childhood to remember. Read the PREQUEL to this story.

 

Part 1

I was my paternal grandfather’s favourite. I heard from my parents that the day I started walking, I reached Dadu’s room first with my toppling strides. That melted his heart and he developed deep fondness for me. Moreover, I resembled my grandma who died long before my birth. My father and all my aunts used to say that grandma returned to the family in my form. Thus, I was the favoured one. My cousins sometimes used to tease me later for that and called me “chotothamma” and “chotojethu” as I was carbon copy of my grandmother and my father. They resembled each other.

 

Dadu had another special name for me. I was his pet and his “soukhin natni” (soukhin is someone fond of beautiful things). My pet name was Bublu but everyone in the family called me by different names, as per their fancies. Hence all possible variation of that name like Bubli, Bubi, Bulaima etc were used and I was called by those names according to their sweet will. Even now that practise continues within my cousins.

My father was strict with me but that was balanced by my Dadu who always knew my fantasies and he gifted me with those before I could ask for them. God only knows how he could surmise those desires of mine.

Dadu was extremely fond of all his grandchildren and a group photo of all his grandchildren was always there on his bedside table. If there was any addition of grandchild in the family the old photo was replaced with an updated one.

We were extremely lucky to have spent a lot of time happily with him and the sweet memories still linger to be narrated to my children and others.

In many of my previous stories I have mentioned about the beautiful Sundays spent with him and my cousins. He used to take us to different places every Sunday and thus we always waited eagerly for that day to come. Some of his favourite places were the Victoria Memorial Hall and the promenade along the river Ganga on the strand road.

I have spent many Sundays of my life in these two places with my Dadu and my cousins. We cousins still reminiscence those days when we meet up and they too echo the same thoughts.
Huddled in his Ambassador car we used to visit the promenade of the Ganga during the early evening hours. With small packets of freshly roasted peanuts in our hands, we all used to walk along the side of the river munching the peanuts and enjoying the fresh air of the river caressing our cheeks.

“Let’s go to the restaurant before sunset.” Dadu used to tell us and we always agreed. Even the waiters there knew that we loved to occupy the window seats and observe the sun setting on the river Ganga. Thus, they always cooperated as we were regulars there. This was a fine restaurant called “Gay” overlooking the river during our times. Later Gay was shut down, changed hands and an ice cream parlour called “Scoop” was opened in the same premises where I have taken my daughter, driven by the same nostalgia of my childhood.

Coming back to the narrative, we loved seeing the silhouette of the sailing ships and boats on the river in the backdrop of the setting sun. That beautiful scene is permanently frozen in my mind and I can picture that even today with my eyes closed. We loved to eat fish fry and ice cream cones there. We sometimes used to take a boat ride across the river but that was always preferred before sundown.

During our way back each one of us received a packet of chocolate or a packet of ‘Gems’. Those were favourite confectionery items for us during those days.

On many occasions Dadu simply used to sit with us on a bench by the river side and narrate the stories of the days when he took a journey by a ship, as big as the ones anchored in the river, to reach England for higher studies. There were lots of interesting stories of his student days which we loved to hear.

 

 

Part 2

Dadu was a man of refined taste. He used to wear formal dress during his office days but during weekends he preferred to dress up in Indian attire. White dhoti and crisp white kurta with shinning palm shoes. Only during Kolkata’s winter season, the white kurta was replaced with a cots-wool jacket or a specially stitched warm woollen kurta. He believed that being an Indian, one must also wear Indian dress. He was a handsome person even during his old age, with a wonderful personality. His image is still fresh in our minds even after so many years of him leaving this earth.

We still remember how beautifully we enjoyed every festival during our childhood. During Durga Puja our parents had their share of fun with their siblings while we the children were taken care of by Dadu. He used to take us for ‘pandal hopping’ during those days starting from Deshapriyo Park puja near his house in South Kolkata to Kumartoli and Baghbazar pujo in the north of the city. During those days, managing six of us was not easy in a crowded place even though the crowds were not so thick and dense as they are now. He, along with his trusted driver Rahman Chacha, took care of us with great patience. He maintained a perfect balance of indulgence and strictness without any scolding.

The firecrackers during Kalipuja were also gifted by him in advance and we used to store those crackers in the shade under indirect sunlight on our rooftop terrace so that the crackers remained moisture free. We always received separate sets of clothes for Durga puja and Kali puja. How simple we were during those days and we happily showed those precious possessions to all our friends who used to come home to play.

Saraswati puja was celebrated in a big way at our house in Behala. My mother used to make the clay idol of the goddess with her own hands and all the relatives and friends were invited to attend this puja at our home. I still remember how much we loved those special dry sweets like birkhandi, kodma and gur batasha, murki and khoi which were specially offered to Goddess Saraswati. We don’t get these sweets here in Mumbai and thus our children never got to know about them. Basanti – a particular shade of yellow colour – sarees in small size for the grand daughters and kurta for the grandsons were invariably bought and gifted to us as it was customary to wear that colour on the day of Saraswati Puja. We, the children, under the guidance of my mom used to join hands to decorate the puja room with coloured papers. As Sarawati Ma is the goddess of learning, Dadu always made it a point to gift us with stationery like pens and pencils, and art material like drawing book and colour sets and we all kept them near the Goddess during the puja so she blessed us to do well in studies and art.

Winter in Kolkata is always the best season when the weather is enjoyable. Schools are also closed for Christmas vacation. We all loved to visit the Zoo and its surrounding gardens These outings for us were also arranged by Dadu. On the day of Christmas, Dadu brought plum cake from Flury’s and we all used to assemble at his house for lunch. In the evening we were taken to see the lighting and decorations of the Park street which remains a Christmas attraction even to this day.

So many years have passed. We all grew up and Dadu had left for his heavenly abode, but he still resides in our hearts. Even now when we cousins assemble for any occasion, we remember those happy days when Dadu was with us. If we could bring him back to life, I wonder how our children would have been nurtured by the way he could enrich and inspire lives!

 

***The cover image is a painting by Aparna Mondal

Each one of us have our fond memories of childhood and we treasure them deep in our heart. Grandparents do not stay for ever but the fond memories they leave behind with their children and grandchildren are always remembered with love. I was lucky to have a wonderful set of grandparents from both my mother’s and father’s side and thus had a wonderful childhood to remember. Read the PREQUEL to this story.

I was my paternal grandfather’s favourite. I heard from my parents that the day I started walking, I reached Dadu’s room first with my toppling strides. That melted his heart and he developed deep fondness for me. Moreover, I resembled my grandma who died long before my birth. My father and all my aunts used to say that grandma returned to the family in my form. Thus, I was the favoured one. My cousins sometimes used to tease me later for that and called me “chotothamma” and “chotojethu” as I was carbon copy of my grandmother and my father. They resembled each other.

Dadu had another special name for me. I was his pet and his “soukhin natni” (soukhin is someone fond of beautiful things). My pet name was Bublu but everyone in the family called me by different names, as per their fancies. Hence all possible variation of that name like Bubli, Bubi, Bulaima etc were used and I was called by those names according to their sweet will. Even now that practise continues within my cousins.

My father was strict with me but that was balanced by my Dadu who always knew my fantasies and he gifted me with those before I could ask for them. God only knows how he could surmise those desires of mine.

Dadu was extremely fond of all his grandchildren and a group photo of all his grandchildren was always there on his bedside table. If there was any addition of grandchild in the family the old photo was replaced with an updated one.

We were extremely lucky to have spent a lot of time happily with him and the sweet memories still linger to be narrated to my children and others.

In many of my previous stories I have mentioned about the beautiful Sundays spent with him and my cousins. He used to take us to different places every Sunday and thus we always waited eagerly for that day to come. Some of his favourite places were the Victoria Memorial Hall and the promenade along the river Ganga on the strand road.

I have spent many Sundays of my life in these two places with my Dadu and my cousins. We cousins still reminiscence those days when we meet up and they too echo the same thoughts.
Huddled in his Ambassador car we used to visit the promenade of the Ganga during the early evening hours. With small packets of freshly roasted peanuts in our hands, we all used to walk along the side of the river munching the peanuts and enjoying the fresh air of the river caressing our cheeks.

“Let’s go to the restaurant before sunset.” Dadu used to tell us and we always agreed. Even the waiters there knew that we loved to occupy the window seats and observe the sun setting on the river Ganga. Thus, they always cooperated as we were regulars there. This was a fine restaurant called “Gay” overlooking the river during our times. Later Gay was shut down, changed hands and an ice cream parlour called “Scoop” was opened in the same premises where I have taken my daughter, driven by the same nostalgia of my childhood.

Coming back to the narrative, we loved seeing the silhouette of the sailing ships and boats on the river in the backdrop of the setting sun. That beautiful scene is permanently frozen in my mind and I can picture that even today with my eyes closed. We loved to eat fish fry and ice cream cones there. We sometimes used to take a boat ride across the river but that was always preferred before sundown.

During our way back each one of us received a packet of chocolate or a packet of ‘Gems’. Those were favourite confectionery items for us during those days.

On many occasions Dadu simply used to sit with us on a bench by the river side and narrate the stories of the days when he took a journey by a ship, as big as the ones anchored in the river, to reach England for higher studies. There were lots of interesting stories of his student days which we loved to hear.

To Be Continued in Part 2….

Dadu was a man of refined taste. He used to wear formal dress during his office days but during weekends he preferred to dress up in Indian attire. White dhoti and crisp white kurta with shinning palm shoes. Only during Kolkata’s winter season, the white kurta was replaced with a cots-wool jacket or a specially stitched warm woollen kurta. He believed that being an Indian, one must also wear Indian dress. He was a handsome person even during his old age, with a wonderful personality. His image is still fresh in our minds even after so many years of him leaving this earth.

We still remember how beautifully we enjoyed every festival during our childhood. During Durga Puja our parents had their share of fun with their siblings while we the children were taken care of by Dadu. He used to take us for ‘pandal hopping’ during those days starting from Deshapriyo Park puja near his house in South Kolkata to Kumartoli and Baghbazar pujo in the north of the city. During those days, managing six of us was not easy in a crowded place even though the crowds were not so thick and dense as they are now. He, along with his trusted driver Rahman Chacha, took care of us with great patience. He maintained a perfect balance of indulgence and strictness without any scolding.

The firecrackers during Kalipuja were also gifted by him in advance and we used to store those crackers in the shade under indirect sunlight on our rooftop terrace so that the crackers remained moisture free. We always received separate sets of clothes for Durga puja and Kali puja. How simple we were during those days and we happily showed those precious possessions to all our friends who used to come home to play.

Saraswati puja was celebrated in a big way at our house in Behala. My mother used to make the clay idol of the goddess with her own hands and all the relatives and friends were invited to attend this puja at our home. I still remember how much we loved those special dry sweets like birkhandi, kodma and gur batasha, murki and khoi which were specially offered to Goddess Saraswati. We don’t get these sweets here in Mumbai and thus our children never got to know about them. Basanti – a particular shade of yellow colour – sarees in small size for the grand daughters and kurta for the grandsons were invariably bought and gifted to us as it was customary to wear that colour on the day of Saraswati Puja. We, the children, under the guidance of my mom used to join hands to decorate the puja room with coloured papers. As Sarawati Ma is the goddess of learning, Dadu always made it a point to gift us with stationery like pens and pencils, and art material like drawing book and colour sets and we all kept them near the Goddess during the puja so she blessed us to do well in studies and art.

Winter in Kolkata is always the best season when the weather is enjoyable. Schools are also closed for Christmas vacation. We all loved to visit the Zoo and its surrounding gardens These outings for us were also arranged by Dadu. On the day of Christmas, Dadu brought plum cake from Flury’s and we all used to assemble at his house for lunch. In the evening we were taken to see the lighting and decorations of the Park street which remains a Christmas attraction even to this day.

So many years have passed. We all grew up and Dadu had left for his heavenly abode, but he still resides in our hearts. Even now when we cousins assemble for any occasion, we remember those happy days when Dadu was with us. If we could bring him back to life, I wonder how our children would have been nurtured by the way he could enrich and inspire lives!

***The cover image is a painting by Aparna Mondal

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1 Response Comment

  • Bishakha Moitra15/08/2019 at 3:36 PM

    Beautiful narrative. Took me straight to your childhood. I could visualise the entire story. You are truly blessed.

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