How she woke you up with her gentle hands lovingly caressing your hair. How someone else trying to replicate the action would so irrevocably piss you off. How you’d try to fake a tummy ache to sleep a little more and she would sometimes get worried and sometimes call you a budding trickster.
Waking up now, is not the same anymore.
How she worshipped every morning. During those winter days, when the air was heavy and mist drifted in from the window adjascent to the garden, she used to walk in to your room, smelling of glycerine soap and incense sticks and sandal. Still cocooned within the warmth of your blanket, you’d peep with half open eyes as she would move from one corner of the room to the other with the aarti or an incense stick, inviting health, harmony and prosperity for her child.
You’re more of an aethist now. OR you just don’t have time.
That aroma of loochi (puri) or pawrota (parantha) wafting to you on a Sunday morning while the dreamy rays of the still sleepy Sun playfully rolled on the window sill. When you walked silently to the kitchen door, scratching your hair, only half awake, you’d see her already bathed, preparing breakfast for you, humming a Tagore song all by herself.
You generally skip breakfasts. Or probably order something after you reach office.
Starting for School
Those first days when she coaxed you to go to school but you didn’t because you hated the Mathematics double period. Those later days when she coaxed you not to because it was raining but you did. The way she’d carefully keep the tiffin box in the outer pouch of your school bag and tell you not to buy stuff from the canteen.
Schooldays are gone. So are those days.
When she would sit by your side and help you learn those rhymes by heart. When she would bring you that steaming cup of piping hot coffee while you burned the proverbial midnight oil. When she would run her fingers through your hair and tell you to get some sleep, or else you’d fall sick.
Exams were tougher than your annual appraisals. But she was there to take care of the rest.
How you watched in awe as she would leave ego-hurt hawkers in her wake every time she paid Gariahat a visit. How she made the sellers-of-myriad-stuff yield to her and sell that Paaposh or (doormat)/ saaree/ bed cover for half of what he claimed was his buying price.
No crazy online discount scheme can match the excitement of being witness to those on ground duels.
You wondered, blushing a deep shade of crimson as to how she guessed you had developed a crush on that girl in school. She always did that. Always. Sitting face to face, or working in the kitchen, nonchalantly commenting what she felt about the state of your heart, she made you feel awkward and defiant, yet loved, like no other.
Heartbreaks are easier to deal with these days. Except that you miss your mom.
When the entire paara/ muhalla was asleep and you’d be lying beside her, vehemently not sleeping. Silence was a distant thrum amplified by the still leaves of the old tree, the dropping eyelids of the cat on the warm brick wall, the shrill shout of the ice cream man. Oh the ice cream man.
Summer afternoons are now meant for work. Like the winter afternoons. And the rainy ones.
You’d wait at that corner of your balcony or beside that window, from where you could see a bit more of the road. You’d wonder why she was getting late from her work or the market or some unavoidable visit to a relative’s place. Years on, she’d stand at that corner of the balcony or beside that window, waiting for you to return from college and later, work.
No one’s really waiting for you. Not like that.
When you’d not swallow a single morsel without her telling you stories; stories of the Selfish giant, or Cinderella; from Tales of the Thakumar Jhuli to the Fables of Aesop. She’d read out fairy tales lying next to you in bed, she’d tell you stories of valor, of forgotten heroes, of Subhash Chandra Bose.
You download e books on your kindle reader/ smartphone. You read the stories. You don’t live them.