18 December 2021

Following in my mother’s footsteps – chapter 2

When my mom reached sixth grade, my grandfather decided to move his family from the village of Upalati to a nearby town called Kalna. He figured that it would be good for the education of his four kids. (He had 2 more later).

This is the house in Kalna that I have great memories of. This is truly a Bengali’s “mamabaari”. The last time I had visited this place was in the 1970s. It took me about half an hour of phone call with my uncle (mom’s brother) to try and pinpoint the house in Google Maps.

Turned out that once I was nearby, I recognized all the small markers – the two ponds, the left and right turn in the alley – in spite of the fact that modern civilizations had penetrated even this town – at least in terms of asphalt roads instead of dirt roads and covered drains instead of open ones.

Introducing ourselves to the current residents wsa less of an issue. They are the descendants of the original owner of the house. My grandpa had rented the house from him. And we are somehow related to them – multiple times removed, I am sure. I found out that the original owner’s name was Haradhan Pan. Which reminded me why my dad always made me write “C/O Haradhan Pan” (Care Of Haradhan Pan) every time I wrote a letter to my grandpa and put his name first in the address line.

I was amazed how much of the house has remained the same. The owners invited us to go around the whole house and take pictures. Which I did. Every step brought back a flood of memories… remembering the excitement when my aunt (mom’s sister) was getting married, the running to the rooftop to wave my grandfather goodbye as he hurried thru the alleys for his 7:55 train, the sleepy dinners sitting on the floor by grandmother’s kitchen under the watchful eyes of the pet cats. There was no electricity those days. It was all lanterns lit by kerosene lamps and hand fans!

As of today, I marveled at the idea that this dilapidated house is where my mom spent her time as a teenager. While I had the chance to take my mom to her birthplace once, I never had brought her back to this house!!!

This will remain, unfortunately, in my wish list for ever.

Posted December 18, 2021 by Rajib Roy in category "Family in India", "Vacations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.