10 April 2017

My sixth grade class teacher (home room teacher)

“Are you Rajib Roy?”, asked the deceptively young looking gentleman as he got up from his chair in the verandah of his house.
“That I am, Sir!”, said I, fumbling with the gate latch.

It had taken me a long time to find Sir Patrick Moore – my class teacher from sixth grade. I got my lucky break when I had met Pratap Bara at the airport a couple of days earlier. I got Mrs. Moore’s number from Pratap and then a few phone calls later, I had set up my tryst with the teacher that I had last talked to in 1978 !!! Three hours of car journey later, I stood face to face with him after almost four decades.

He did not remember me – which I would not have expected him to. But he did remember the two classrooms we sat in while in sixth grade. I remember that we were in the very last room on the ground floor. And one fine day, we were shifted to the room next to the library on the second floor. Sir Moore remembered that incident vividly since – according to him, it was he who had instigated that change after getting headaches from the chemical smell from our chemistry lab next door!!

I told him how he used to often ask us some very interesting questions and then ask us to think about it or even ask around about it and come back with answers the next day. I reminded him of some of the questions he had asked us…. He had just finished teaching us about how ancient people had discovered fire and how that was a big change for civilization. Then he asked us – “What was another discovery or invention of ancient people that changed civilization dramatically?”.

Or when another time, when he had just finished teaching us about the solar system, he asked us to think about what was a man made object that is visible to the eye from the moon.

I had an equally great time with Miss Yvonne (Mrs. Moore) (who was a teacher in our primary section but I never studied in that section of our school) discussing about life, my own life journey and learnt about theirs.

Finally, I offered my heartfelt gratitude to Sir for influencing me in no small ways to be whoever it is that I am today.

In the bottom picture, I am the one sitting in the same row with Sir, next to next to him, on his right.

10 April 2017

Taking mom out to see her sister

Taking advantage of dad’s long sleeps, the three siblings proposed that we take mom to see her sister that she has not seen in some time. After some hemming and hawing she agreed.

This is my mom’s elder sister. I had seen her a couple of years back when I came to check on uncle. Who, unfortunately, is no more.

But the most exciting part for me was to meet my cousin. After 34 years!!! My last recollection of him is playing soccer with him when I had gone to visit them in their village after my tenth grade!!

10 April 2017

Day 3: Change of mood

Still can’t get out of bed much… but was all smiles when he sat up. For the last two days, he was lamenting that my brother was not around. And today all the three children were sitting with him thanks to the last surprise by my brother.

After about thirty minutes, he went back to lying in the bed and slept off. And the three siblings went back to their newspaper reading, office email checking and blog writing respectively… 🙂

10 April 2017

And for the final surprise…

Since this was the trip of surprises, the best one was kept for the end. You probably recollect that this time nobody was aware that I was coming over. Even my brother was kept in the dark. He was going to be away for work in a different part of India anyways.
Well, when he finally got to know about it (on Thursday), another surprise was planned out. And the surprise was that he would work over the weekend and then finish everything by Sunday night. That would let him come to Kolkata early morning of Monday.
In a classic role reversal, I was there at the airport to pick him up in his own car. And then started our usual routine – the drive from the airport to my dad’s house. Except this time, nobody knows I will have my brother with me too!!!
Of course, there was the mandatory tea break. With temperatures at 95 degrees and per the Weather Channel the humidity making it feel like 102 degrees, we got down to have some steaming hot tea that bordered on scalding the tongue.

10 April 2017

“Bent maybe, but never broken”

I believe that is how I had described Mrs. Mukherjee when I visited her last time.

Because of her spinal cord weakness she cannot sit up straight. But she refuses to be dependent on others. She was filling up some bank forms by herself last time when I saw her, as I recollect. Yesterday, on my way to visit my nephews, I swung by her house for another visit.

“Chintey paarchhen?” (Do you recognize me).
“Mon-e thaakbey na keno baba? Bubun-er bondhu Rajib to.”. She had no difficulty remembering me.

She is in the threshold of being a nonagenarian. In fact, in a few months, she is going to hit 90. For that age, The picture here can be very deceptive. She  looks and in fact, is, frail. But under that frailty lies an uncommonly determined lady. In the hour  or so that I was with her, she talked about her late husband, her grandson, their family’s craze for soccer, her last trip to US and many other details of her life.

“Nijey nijey hnaat-tey paarchhen?”. Remembering my dad’s condition and her spinal cord, I asked her if she was able to walk around. She reaffirmed that she can walk if she needed to (like going to the restroom etc).

“Walker nichchhen?”. I asked if she was using the walker.
“Laathhi?” How about the walking stick?

I remember that streak of independence last time I saw her. She was determined to walk as long as she could without any help. And this is in spite of having fallen down a couple of times.

That will has not waned a bit. Hope to see her with that same unflinching will on the other side of 90 when I see her next.