Crammed bags, HB pencils, Home Bound train.

#3 Starshot

3 June, 16

 

“T! where are we going today?”

I asked in partial wakefulness, rubbing my eyes vigorously.

“South City, I’d heard?”, T answered as she waded through the bed sheets and side pillows.

“Oh great! Starmark, I love that place!” shrieked I.

“oh of course you do. But now you won’t. Classicism has flown away.” T grins, and smirks slyly. “They have doubled up the prices of almost everything”. T rose up, looking for her glasses.

“Bad”, I tried to mean it without looking funny with mouth stuffed with toothbrush.

“Yea! Also, it has ONLY books these days”, she cried through her towel.

“Best!” I had fireworks in my imagining myself at Starmark. Thousand loves. That’s, that’s the best thing to even the clumsiest bookworm on the Earth: An 8000sqmt area, all lined up on books!

“I know. And they charge you excessively high.” T, in her sly-smile best.

“Oh, that’s bad!” My 8000sqmt fort  reduced to a to-buy list.

“Yet more for you. Can you wait to see?”

Of course. I wait desperately for 326 days to have 30 days of complete paper-light vacations with cousins.

*

Holy Heaven! T was right! SM has indeed turned into a sort of Crossword now, only with a small receding patchy section for DVDs and stationery. One could still read books at Crossword, till half, till one could feel that it’s impossible to leave the store without getting this book in the hand, knowing that one has already begun to grow with it, and with the book on oneself; till you’re in sixty feet deep love for that book. SM, on the other hand wouldn’t let you go beyond the introduction part, by shooting their dart-like looks at you, forcing you to stop turning the page or it is going to handle such persistent customers in its own way. Friendly, but not so friendly.

I picked up a few titles, seated myself on the same yellow couch that used to be in the kids’ section until four years ago. After reading the entry on the backcovers and estimating what better deals I could find at College Street, I placed them back pretty sincerely. Three books- clean five minutes each. No darts thrown.

**

Sitting in my room, today, as I type out this blog post on older date, I hear doorbell hit furiously. Standing outside is a delivery man, holding the parcel containing those books that I finally ordered online because although I had got hold of at CS, we found them too bulky to pack back to home.

 

Image source

30 June,2016

 

Afternoons downstairs are way bearable, breathable than it is in the rest of the house. I am sitting in the hallway, stiff, staring at the mirror hung above the wash basin across the corridor, my legs spread apart, waiting for being called on for any help whatsoever in the kitchen. Joe tries to pull me to the courtyard by its friendlier looks, but I am too tired to buy that. “Joe, go away”. It doesn’t. Our tiny Tia tries to hang kitchen towels in the courtyard. She jumps hard, fails twice. “Abar!” (“again”) I shout. One last leap- Tia stands taller now.

Rugs are rolled out for the rest of all. D feels between her fingers the bright lime green handknit fabric that one of our cousins had parceled for Mashi (maternal aunt). Joes tugs it off the place. “Joe?”

Joe sits by Tin’s seat after sniffing antagonism here.

I can see  no one is calling me yet. Great! Some self-dependent people.

 

Tia and Madhu emerge from the kitchen with rice mechanically, with a fixed expression on their faces. They are transfixed to their assigned job. Didu (maternal grandmother) totters from the kitchen and sits firmly on the bench facing against the courtyard. The frayed out leaves of the huge eucalyptus  at the corner look like green arms with prominent fingers calling me out to the courtyard. Under the bluish gray sky, beside sipping cool home-made lemon juice dashed with mint leaves, stealing pickled green mangoes from the kitchen-store, the summer-pleasure that sitting at the centre of the courtyard gives is just incomparable.

The towels fly frantically now. The string swings madly. Bougainvilleas fly away from the bush-frame, lying in carpet of pink and yellow..

I’m typing on my phone wildly. A sudden outburst of laughter shakes me: R’s same old debate begins to contradict him like a boomerang. Losing on what it used to be earlier, with a bearing of an intellectual element, it has begun to amuse only children now. Mashi-Didu-ma – the girl-gang enjoys its meal more now when the air feels less cloistered, when it starts to get thinner and comfortable,  when drizzles have just begun to spray in into the hallway. The daughters seem to steal back to their older times in Didu‘s time machine.

Palbable memories. 🙂

The sky grows darker, trying to prove the hour wrong.

The best thing about the summer vacations at Mashi‘s place is the rain. And its closeness to the soil. Its closeness to me.

 

“Let’s go outside Joe?”

 

Image source

#1 Soupy train journeys

28 June, 2016.

Our train, I heard, would be a) reaching on time, b) run via Kharagpur. Point b. was not really known to me until yesterday, and point a. has been a hypothetical truth since ages for all those who still trust the IR for some begone reason. From what it appears to be differs by huge proportion what it actually is. So, technically, it’s no more something to be gravely annoyed by, unless one has to catch a connecting train due for the next hour. Basically, with IR, one does not play dangerous.

But what annoys me the in train journeys are- stinky toilets and co-passengers with outrageous, unmanagable toddlers. The first one is too vague a problem to be solved. But the second issue takes it into your skull..

These kids are not just hyper-ecstatic, overjoyed, excited for each succeeding nano-second for the next 18 hours, but are also unapologetically communicative. Yes! One could be imagined narrating the neighbour’s secrets on loudspeakers around the locality for crowdsourcing help, solutions, logistics, whatever. I have no secret ways to this particular pack of little kids who have just begun at playschools or have learnt to recite Song of Six-pence impeccably. I see notoriety in their faces, and perplexity in their mothers’ habit. Their shrilly voice pierces through the hardbound held firm  (and vulnerable) in your hand and darts into your ears like ultra-sound wavelengths. I wish I could change my seat three coaches away today; for, I wished to spend this train journey rather productively.

*

 

Soon, I learnt that the kid sitting in front of us was NOT shy at all, went to school, got periodically punished for dancing in the classroom, loved maths, and would dance over the Moon whenever her sums turned out to be correct. She was on vacation and was visiting her mama-r bari (maternal granadma’s place). Ria, apart from many things that she had already confided to me, confessed pretty soon that she was greatly confused by D and me because we, apparently, did not look of our age. She failed to make out why I should be the eldest one among we three and decided to call us by our names. I liked the way she skips the ‘h’ after getting the first syllable in my name. but that, wouldn’t be probably the last to be seen, enough to melt the snow.

**

“what’s the best thing about train?”

“I can’t see the entire train at once. It’s sooooo long, so big”, she says with her animated  eyes as if trying to find out the exact length of the train we are in. I like the way how she puts extra stress upon her expressions meticulously. Silent hysteria.

“do you like maths?” she puts the most dreaded topic topped with innocence as she searches for pencil in her square Hello-Kitty satchel.

“I like it, but I cannot solve them”, I try to look busy turning pages, hoping that she takes it without another question. She tries to hide her giggles by covering her face behind those tasselled hair, but fails.

I love maths.” That familiar expression, fails to leave me unnoticed. She loves maths, just as I do literature. Her eyes now remain hung in some invisible thread leading to a mysteriously complex mathematical theory.  “I like how 1 and 2 always make 3”. That’s the ingenuity of a barely six-year old in being touched by the simplicity of the subject, despite the Number Theory that will soon be cruel to her expectations like ice-picks on the skin. Or, she might get too dazed, too spellbound to be crushed by it . She looks out through the window trying to estimate the stars we are passing by. Soon, waned by disinterest, she comes back to her piece of paper and pencil, trying to draw the solar system. Eccentricity of the concentric circles and trapped hyperbolic ideas.

***

Her grandfather reminded me every time of my own grandpa. Ria would knock her head at his wobbly tummy, punch his back, rub her cheeks against his, and would look greatly amused by his moustache and unshaven face. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing, when she flaired her fingers around her face, gesticulating amusingly, imagining cat’s whiskers protruding from her cheeks. Both laughed. Balloons. Confetti. Their playfulness reminded me of our moments. It still does of us, framed in steel placed on my study table in my room.

This apple of the eye, frolicking little child, I learnt, liked to run after her granny’s pet cats, away from the mother’s firmament. The two persona stood poles apart- the air would make anyone feel that. She complained to me about the strict dictum of the after-school regiment, as she pulled out her school-timetable neatly copied on a white sheet. The folds lent her creative maneuver a support. Leaves and flowers in colour pencils emerged from the brown frame, leaving the ‘RECESS’ cut asymmetrically.

Two hours of music class after completing homework by 4, and forcefully putting her to bed by 10 were ‘obvious’ reasons for her to chide her mom. I could realize how deranged her routine was- too heavy for a six year old.  She tried to smile through the folds of grimaces while adjusting her hair falling upon her forehead despite hard backward strokes.

****

The train slowed down as it approached Kharagpur Station. The gleam on her face began to radiate twice on seeing her uncle standing on the platform to receive them. She gobbled on her sandwich as fast as she could and tried to reach for the exit impulsively. Her bag matched with her blue pin-tuck frock, and her hairband sat loosely on her disheveled hair, now fearless of her mother’s furious looks at her hair clips that kept falling loose all over in  the train.

Unclipped.