17 June 2022

Surrounded by emptiness

Nikita sitting on the same chair at the same spot she did with her grandparents back in 2018. In a matter of two and a half years, we lost three of them. Now that she is headed to college and independent life, I am fairly sure this is the last time she is visiting what used to be her grandparents’ place in Kalyani.

17 June 2022

Next stop – an empty house

After saying goodbye to my mother in law, we headed straight to my parents’ place. We have not yet sold the place after they transitioned. Sharmila and Nikita both wanted to visit the place that used to be their home. As the car drove thru the by-now-much-familiar path between Durgapur and Kalyani, it took a final turn at Pannalal Road and the flat (right top corner) became visible. Usually, this is the exact time that I would spot my dad sitting in the balcony waiting for me.

That has surely become a thing of the past. This is the fourth time I am visiting what used to be their home in a year or so. Still have not gotten used to they being not there.

The big things get easy. It is the small things – the only shoe he had that has not been worn ever since, the unfinished incense stick she had lit that evening, the watch that has stopped, the calendar that is still stuck in December 2020, the glasses lying around unused, the half finished soap in the bathroom… they are the ones that torment the most.

17 June 2022

A Red Bull and my mother in law just do not go together

A Red Bull – as many of you are aware is all about caffeine and sugar. In other words, screaming high energy. My mother in law is anything but. I am sure she will be uncontrollably ricocheting off the walls if she even as much as tasted a drop.

So, you can imagine the surprise on my face when I spotted a Red Bull can in her dining table this morning. I immediately accosted her with my confusion. If you think I was confused, you should have seen her face. She took the can in her hand turned it upside down, gave it a good look over and came up a total cropper in terms of figuring out how she got a Red Bull can.

After some sleuthing around – and the big hint was there was a Sprite can and and a can of Tonic Water also nearby – none of which I assure you my mother in law has ever tasted – I was able to put the picture together.

Remember we were holed up in JW Marriott in Kolkata for five days? And that my brother in law had come over with his family for a night? Well, he had brought a packet of cookies, sweets, water bottle etc for his mom and kept it in the refrigerator in her room.

A couple of days later, while packing her suitcase to check out, she grabbed the stuff he had brought for her. For good measure, she also grabbed those three cans from the mini bar thinking he had brought them for her.

Of course, now the next question is what is she going to do with those drinks. I offered her to buy her some gin to finish off the tonic water. I think she was ready to faint right then and there.

She did not, of course. But if she did, that can of Red Bull would have come real handy!!

16 June 2022

Munna-di!!

Munnadi was our neighbor since 1979 December. I left home in 1983 July. So, it was a short three and a half years I got to know her. After that, it mostly kept up with her thru other neighbors. About 25 years back, I had managed to meet her and her two sons. Since I had some free time this evening and it had been already 25 years, I decided to spring a surprise on her and her sons. Unfortunately, I missed her younger son Debarpan this time. And I could not even talk with Debarghya (her elder son) about mirrorless cameras. (She gets mad if we start talking about photography).

It was really great exchanging notes about the updates of all our neighbors.

16 June 2022

My uncle’s family

A picture of my uncle’s (partial) family.

Look at the picture on the wall. Now look at the young kid (Rana) in blue shirt in the picture. The picture on the wall is a sketch done by Shreya (to your left in the picture) of Rana at different ages!

16 June 2022

Looks familiar?

That is a painting done by Shreya (in the picture) – my first cousin, once removed (my uncle’s grandchild). She took different pictures of the four of us from Facebook and then stitched them together in a painting.

She did this when she found out that we will be coming to India and came down personally to gift us the picture!

That is very impressive!!!

16 June 2022

That is crazy!!!

If my uncle is the exemplar of industriousness, this dog is a veritable picture of lazy relaxation. Which dog, you ask? Focus your attention at the centre of the picture.

This dog is sitting there – up on the window sill – with no clear way of getting there to the naked eye – with his paws hanging out like a royal being surveying over his kingdom!!

How he got there – I have no clue. My uncle explained to me that the dog literally jumps from the top of the red brick wall to land in a spot three feet away and three feet higher. The spot itself cannot be more than a foot by a couple. That is amazing risk taking and self confidence!!

16 June 2022

My family tree!

Took Nikita and Sharmila to the relative I have always been closest to and admired the most – my “mama” (mom’s brother). My earliest recollections of him is a guy who would visit us and then go upside down on his head. At the age of six, of course, I had no idea what “yoga” was all about.

I took Nikita around his garden showing her the various trees – a guava tree here, a sugarcane clump there, a lime tree here, a gourd tree there and so on. Nikita marveled at all the guavas in the guava tree. I believe she tried a guava for the first time during this trip.

Before I could cry “Uncle”, my uncle had made short shrift of climbing up the tree. In a jiffy he was up there, picking up some ripe guavas for Nikita. And we were like… “Wait, how did you get there?”

This – for a 75 year old. Who beat back cancer before he could turn 50 and then proceeded to lose one kidney later, I believe.

If there is one thing that defines this gentleman, it is self discipline. Over the years, I have never seen him ever overeat, oversleep or miss his daily exercises. Amongst all my relatives, I also consider him the most rational thinker and seldom talks negatively about others.

I am so blessed that I count him in my family tree!