Dated:14 July 2000(Class XI)
At this instant, I, Sanchari Mukherjee, or Brishti, as I am affectionately called by my parents … and also by dadu, my late grandfather, am standing all alone at this little grilled verandah attached to our new apartment in Saltlake. This is the posh, unfeeling area, where we have just shifted to from the triple storied, well-renowned ‘Mukherjee Bari’ of Bhavanipur. The latter had been the birthplace of my great grandfather and all his numerous descendants, including me.
At this instant, everything in our new little coop lay at sixes and sevens. There sits my mom and dad, in our freshly painted drawing room, with tears rolling down their cheeks. I have just handed over to them three insignificant objects I discovered while unpacking the boxes –three objects belonging to my dadu, that have taken my parents to the darkness of remorse, sorrow and reminiscence.
The first glimpse of the black-framed thick pair of reading glasses, peeping out from the infinite mess of odds and ends in dad’s suitcase, had left me absolutely spellbound! Where did these naughty little things hide themselves all these days? None of us had ever seen them since dadu passed away. These glasses almost enjoyed playing hide-n-seek with the old man while he lived. It was almost a part of his daily routine to go frantically searching for them every morning, until I took the responsibility of finding out the queer objects….
I remember the day dadu was being taken on his funeral procession – how incomplete he looked without those unfashionable pair of spectacles! Who would have said that the man didn’t need them anymore?
The next weird thing that had suddenly caught my eyes was the prehistoric, discolored walking stick of dadu, sticking out in a most awkward manner from one of the big dusty sacks containing utensils from the kitchen. None of us could guess how the stick managed to be included within those stuffs. Looking intently at the stick, I could almost visualize the weak, frail, frustrated structure of my dear old dadu, leaning on it for support and gazing through his wrinkled eyelids at the unbounded blue sky above where he would soon find his eternal abode.
Did I say ‘frustrated’? Yes, my dadu, who had once been a desperate young freedom fighter, was really getting frustrated towards his end. He had witnessed the ‘glory’ that had descended upon his beloved motherland after the much awaited independence. He had seen the ancient rich values of India he used to worship being swept away by gusts from the West. He had seen his grandchildren being stripped of their childhood by the torment of parental ambitions. And he was agonized at the very idea of being confined in a narrowly walled, double storied matchbox for the rest of his life! The strain was badly telling upon his health, and a fatal heart attack last month had put an end to all his grieves and resentments.
There’s one more article I discovered this morning … one more backdated object that used to be the heart and soul of my dadu. It is the old set of rare (and damp) gramophone records – a constant source of disturbance to our neighbors. The gramophone player had hence been disposed off a couple of months earlier, much against the will of its owner. After all, it is the age of compact disks and surround-sound. Who would pay heed to the emotions and nostalgia of a heart that was nearing its end? Dadu lived in a world of his own. Who but me could penetrate his thoughts, and console him when his heart was heavy? Who but me did know the profound sentimental values of dadu associated with that troublesome gramophone set?
What if dadu walks out just now from that small study over there? The same lean figure supported by his old walking stick and the same glittering joy in his bespectacled eyes …. What if he says to me once again – “ Brishti, just come to the garden and have a look my child! The new rose plant has yielded its first blossom! Hadn’t I told you it’s going to be a lovely one?
I know that the scene is never to be repeated, for dadu is no more, and our garden, as big as his own heart, will never again be adorned by blooming flowers of all shades. It has been sold off to a certain promoter- and a high rise will be erected at the same spot. Dad and his two brothers have made a lot of money, and I know that they have been sensible enough. But the three useless objects belonging to my dadu will be preserved carefully by me, and his voice will speak to me forever...
“Brishti, my sweet dadubhai – never do complain that the rosebush has thorns, do rejoice that the thronbush has roses”.