Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rare luxuries

Life's so full now, I hate any semblance of space in the crowd. Baba, Ma, N, G and I. When all of us are in the living room together-- N 3/4th out of the bean bag, sprawled on the floor, G on top of him, I in my sloth bearish (most lyad khawa) posture on the futon and Ma and Baba, the only semblance of propriety, on the chairs - it an mela-esque atmosphere. I ain't complaining, because, I don't have the same luxury when I visit them in Calcutta. So loving every minute of having them around.
Baba's been with us for a month now. Ma arrived a couple of days back. Baba flew down. Ma prefers the good old railroad. No amount of persuasion to get her on to a plane works. Her feet are too well grounded, I say. The train, wonder of wonders, arrived 10 mins before scheduled. She has come with one 24" VIP, a medium-sized red kit bag, a small overnighter, her trademark Guess shopper in which she carries her water bottles, a couple of plastic bags and of course her handbag. The suitcase has wheels so weight doesn't matter. But the red kit bag just can't be lifted. "what's in it, Ma?" "Oh just some stuff I thought you would need," she said, as a hint of embarrassment escaped her voice. Knowing my Ma, that was a really "loaded" answer.
Since she arrived on a weekday, I chose not to ask any more and got on with my daily chores before leaving for work. Ma quietly began pottering around revealing bits and pieces of the treasure she had brought from home and beyond. First, korapaaker jolbhora taalshnash shondesh (sorry non-Bengali readers, it is inexplicable, hence ethereal), white mishti doi (since I abhor the "lal" variety), a bag of "potol"-- some 2 kilos of it. A packet of Dalpuri'r pur, a watermelon, 2 cucumbers and before she came out with more, I left for office. On my return, I am asked what i want to eat. Aahh the bliss of being brought a glass of water, or even being asked about food-- I had quite forgotten about it. While I wallow in the attention, I look around for new additions to my kitchen. None that catches my eye. Very strange, I say to myself in the most Poirot-esque undertone. I wander leisurely in to the guest room and Voila! The flap of the red kit bag lies listlessly on the floor revealing stacks of "potato". Yes Potato -- in medium and small sizes. "MAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" I don't try muffling such screams, I don't believe they should be. "Ki holo?" She comes running. "Eta ki korecho?" "Egulo Doshghora'r chasher aloo," she says with the most unabashed smile (Doshghora is a pristine little village in Hooghly district where my Ma hails from. It's my Transcendental world). She's brought FIVE kgs of home-grown potatoes!
I know these days we pay for every morsel of our existence and hence "home-grown" or "from our farm" are rather romantic feudal concepts. But, I, dear friends have a long lineage of "landlords", commonly (de) recognized as Zamidaars in Bengali. That too, both from my paternal and maternal side. Despite the feudal system and landlordship being abolished now, needless to say, my parents revel in the lineage and have their own ways of reinforcing it in GeNext, much to our disdain. The above is a perfect case in point. But to carry Five kilo of potatoes as a separate luggage? Jeees!
I was too dumbstruck to take the conversation any further, even though Ma picked up her favourite refrain " Aar joddin achi, toke diye jai...erpor toh aar keu debey na." Thank God for small mercies to the last bit!
And let me tell you here, Ma comes from a different planet altogether. Ask her for a grain or a chaff and she'll get the whole paddy field for you. But very few people really honour the worth of such women. Sadly, including self.