Reminiscences of Another Day

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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Visiting grandparent’s house had always been fun. Indulgence, good food, meeting cousins,  never ending celebrations and grandma’s stories were the major attractions which we cherished and longed for. My maternal grandfather died when I was very small and I have faint memories of him taking me to the park and buying toffee. But grandma and maternal aunt were the ones who used to tell me stories and we travelled together in an imaginary world.

My maternal grandmother had a two storied house in Bhawanipore behind Chakraberia high school. My mother is the second amongst four sisters. My cousin Tublu was the the second son of my Boromashi (the aunt elder than my mom) and we were the best of friends. Bublu and Tublu were names that rhymed and were given to us as we came to this world just two months apart. Dida, as we called our grandma, used to say that we practically grew up in the same cot.

Boro meshomoshai (elder aunt’s husband) was a surgeon and was posted in Jalpaiguri. During summer and puja vacations they used to come to Kolkata and during that time I too went and stayed with my grandma and mashi’s.

Vacations were full of fun. I and Tublu accompanied Dida to Kalighat temple, watched movies with mashis and occasionally went shopping with them.

We naughty souls were full of energy and that endless energy also drove us to resist sleeping at night. We always thought that sleeping early would mean missing out on all the fun. We were new travellers to this world, in search of experience and like desert sand absorbing everything that came our way. When Ma and mashis gave up, Dida happily took over the duty of putting us to sleep and with her opened a secret door. Every night she came up with new stories of fairies and kings and queens, trolls and goblins, lions and jackals. We happily listened to those stories lying by her side, thinking them to be true. How innocent and trusting we were then.

At the end she used to tell us stories of foxes and jackals. These were clever jackals who lived in a small jungle close to her house in Bhawanipore. At night they used to sneak out of their holes in the jungle and roam around the city in search of young boys and girls. If they found any of them awake, they would break open the window panes and take them to their dens. She never ever said that we would be caught for being awake. But our innocent minds believed the story and we slept immediately, identifying ourselves as those kids. We were so innocent those days, we never questioned the premise that there could be a jungle in the vicinity of Bhawanipore.

My mashis were no less in creating beautiful stories and those were picture stories. Two mashis were in college and were much younger than my mom. Rina mashi (or Phunu mashi as we called her) was extremely good at free hand drawing and weaving stories around the drawings. She never went to any drawing school and never gave serious thought to writing stories. She has now forgotten that she ever told me those stories. But now when I look back, I really think she was gifted and could have pursued her artistic inclinations with better conviction.

Phunu mashi used to start off with drawing a Bengali hut and then take the story ahead step by step. She placed the drawings and the pictures as and when each story progressed. Even now I vividly remember that progression from a hut getting surrounded by trees, a winding mud track road, continued with a pond in the distance. She then used to add fishes in the pond and then some hens and ducks roaming around the place, followed by hay stacks in the meadows and farmlands with farmers working their ploughs, followed by village ladies fetching water from the pond and young kids playing in front of the hut with some goats and cows grazing in the fields.

The picture story used to get completed after depicting complete picture of the village life in Bengal. Stories like this enabled us to feel the essence of a village life. Each day she used to take us to different places with her picture stories – from snow capped mountains of hill stations to deserts to a seaside. We travelled to cities, villages and courts of kings and queens and those memories imprinted those pictures in our minds.

Those pictures were made only by ordinary ink pen on ordinary writing paper. No colour or fancy paper was ever used. Now when I remember, I realise how talented she was. She was an inspiration for me and those memories subconsciously prepared me to imagine and create my own paintings later on in life. I remember she used to present those pictures to me and I also kept them safely for quite a while. However, with the passage of time those pictures got misplaced. I really regret losing them. If kept properly they could have been priceless mementos of our golden childhood days.


Cover image is a painting by Aparna Mondal


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7 Response Comments

  • RINKY19/11/2018 at 8:05 PM

    This really took me to the past days when vacation meant sharing time with grandparents and meeting the distant cousins at maternal grandparents house was must. From telling bed time stories to accompaning the children in outdoor games kept them busy temporarily. On the other side,Punnu Maasi is another beautifully portrayed character. Her way of delivering story through painting needs a separate mention.Those days were so much fun and we got so much to share with our friends and then comes today’s generation who keep themselves busy in the world of technology that they are not willing to enjoy nature’s gift. Besides story telling if the story also had some outdoor games added then it would have been a perfect story to relate to our gone by days.

    • Aparna Mondal19/11/2018 at 11:10 PM

      Thanks for your nice and thoughtful feedback!! . Glad to know that you could relate to it . This is actually a true memoir from my childhood . Yes we used to play outdoor games . Since me and Tublu were just two of us , we could not engage ourselves to outdoor games much in that locality and we had no friends in that neighbourhood . But had written some more memoirs before about Sunday’s spent in company of other cousins from paternal side , where I have mentioned about both indoor and out door games . Sharing the link of the previous memoir of my childhood days , I would be glad if you kindly read this too and share your thoughts. Thanks once again for your feedback . This will surely help be to grow as a writer .

  • Boijayanto_Mukherjee20/11/2018 at 12:31 AM

    Reading this tale of innocence long lost under the burdens of adulthood and forgotten under the hubbub of everyday life brings back memories in retrospective. These memories are what keeps the inner child breathing till the last days of our mortal lives; makes each reader wish if only Dumbledore’s pensieve was a real thing. The underlying metaphor is something that needs to be highlighted; the subtlety, the condensed sense of inevitable loss and the unfortunate brevity of memories are indeed painstakingly true enough.
    Being the only remaining child from my generation who hasn’t been ensnared by multiplex outings, nuclear family life concept, unfathomable addiction to mobiles, tablets et al, the story really clicked well with me. It did shed light to the fact that yesteryears were indeed beautiful. Sundays were supposed to be family days, Didun’s stories were the dessert of the night, specters tormented every naughty kid, ‘chhobi anka’ was doubtlessly an art and togetherness was the final word.
    Didun’s spoiling, mashis’ random whims while out on shopping or the like are the things that very few children might witness today. A heartfelt thanks to the author for bringing back memories that lay sealed under lock and key for a long time. The cover picture reminds me of the drawings we were acquainted with from a very early age.
    Looking forward to more such tales.

    • Aparna Mondal20/11/2018 at 11:28 PM

      Thank you Mr Mukherjee for this wonderful review ! . Am overwhelmed !! . Thanks for expressing your thoughts . Loved reading it .
      My nostalgia drove me to come up with these memoirs of childhood . I have written few more memoirs on various happenings of childhood . I will be happy if you kindly read them .
      Sharing with you the link of the stories published in this forum . Please read these too and would love to know about your feedback.

  • Nandana Dasgupta20/11/2018 at 11:18 PM

    The story takes me back to my childhood days & make me feel terrible for being a ‘Grown Up’ now! So beautifully is the story told that all the readers can get vivid images of everthing that you experienced while you were at your dida’s house! In the world of Digitalisation, you made us Imagine & also made us realize how beautiful & mesmerizing Imaginatoin can be.

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