Jalsa, Mumbai July 12, 2016 Tue 10:33 pm
Birthday - EF - Manoj Kumar Ojha , Taran Ghantasala
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
……and we twin birthday greetings for the Ef’s on mention - Manoj and Taran ..! greetings and wishes and love and all things bright and beautiful .. with love from the ever present Ef’s .. badduuummbaaa !!
Football is over .. tennis is over .. and ..
Now what ? Time is being looked upon as a monster that has eaten up my schedules and without compensation or relief .. so what does one do ..?
Movies and Tv for serials and searches for the ones to see and seek approval from others on what should be seen and what is impressive .. nothing comes about and hence we continue our search and need ..
A picture ..
Of times gone by ..
Of years spent and now memories of those moments ..
It is the verandah of 17, Clive Road .. our home in Allahabad. The house was large with spacious lawns, but was divided into 4 tenants .. on the left of the house was where we lived .. in the middle was a Kapoor family .. on the right was the space for later a South Indian family .. and upstairs was the owner of the house on the terrace ..
This is the verandah on our side of the home .. t looked out to a spacious garden which was hosted the most beautiful roses in the city .. every year at the Annual Flower show at the Alfred Park in the centre of the city my Mother won the best rose and garden Cup .. I have spoken about this often ..
But this verandah .. it has many stories . and vivid and pleasant and distressing all together. First the picture : my Father sits in the middle with my brother Ajitabh, little and filled with smile .. as you face the picture, on the right of him is Ajit Kumar, a student of my Father’s and a close associate during his journey in assisting my father in his works and in his writings for publishing and proof reading and suggesting .. he lives today aged and tired, but I have maintained contact with him and he is now through my initiative, giving me insights into my Father’s writing, reasons for the writing of many of his works, deeper and inner thoughts that could have been observed as to why he thought so and of course any facts that my Father may have disclosed to him on his poetry and his prose .. we are in the process of updating my Father’s biography, details of which we are working on ..
To the left is Jagdish Rajan, relative form my Father’s brother’s side .. he was dropped by his Father into our home with the instruction to my Father, that he was now my Father’s responsibility and to look after him .. years later Rajan dropped his own son at our home here in Mumbai with the same words to me .. and behind standing at attention with a bushshirt .. that is what it was called then .. colourful and beyond any fashion design prevalent, colours and stripes unknown in the city of somewhat conservative Allahabad, selected by my Mother, the fashion conscious and most innovative in modern thinking, the Lahore educated, then known as the Paris of the East, Lahore that is ..my Mother’s choice ..
Behind is a closed door .. that was the entrance to my Father’s study .. where I most found him .. he had called it ‘Dashadwaar’ .. ‘dash’ is ten 10, ‘dwaar’ is door .. his last chapter and volume of his autobiography is called ‘Dashadwaar se Sopaan Tak’ .. from Dashadwaar to Sopaan .. from 17 Clive Road, Allahabad, to Delhi and our home in GulMohar Park, called Sopaan ..
Ten doors is correct and with a purpose .. there were indeed ten openings in the room .. 4 doors .. one you see ..one opened to the side towards the garden, one to another short verandah on the other side and with the other tenants, and one door within the house that opened to our drawing room on the right .. 3 large windows behind his writing desk that opened up towards the gate of the house .. and 3 ‘roshandaans’ .. i know not what they be called in English .. they are like small windows close to the ceiling of the room just above each door that opend to open space, not within the home ..
So 10 ..
Openings that are referred to in our vedas and transcripts of times talk of the 9 openings in the human body, and its meanings and importance .. 2 ears, 2 eyes, 2 nostrils,1 mouth, and 2 below in our private .. 9 openings ..
10 came from the auspicious third eye between the two eyes, at the forehead, hidden and believed in divine language as the third eye, the inner eye of our body and soul ..hence the most auspicious and hence 10 .. and so my Father .. the 10 dash dwaar of his room .. a pure coincidence ..
Here in this room he worked and wrote and remained ever when we would see him .. here on the floor of the room, had he sat on two occasions and recited the Ramayan nonstop, from 3 in the morning till he had finished the entire .. the next morning, without stopping, getting up .. and on a fast .. he sang the Ramayan through .. a feat he did for the betterment of some of us .. and one he did I remember for Rajan for having graduated from University .. Rajan had been struggling to get through ..
The verandah was our space .. it was where we played, when Mom and Dad were out and it was either too hot in the summers or too cold in the winters to step out .. here the ‘chik’ or drapes made of ‘sutli’ would be dropped from the top of the pillars you see, to keep the heat and cold away .. we never had heaters or air conditioning .. here on a ‘takhat’ , a kind of a couch or a bench which was used for seating we would remove the ‘gaddas’, the beddings or cushions or mattresses on it .. run a string across the smaller ends for a make shift net, and with home made wooden bats and that object of desire and one that was so rare to possess - a ping pong ball - play table tennis .. !! When the ball would get dented either by someone stepping on it or otherwise, and since we had just one prized possession we would put in boiling water and the shape would be restored and our game continued .. !!
That same ‘takhat’ would be our make shift stage where we would improvise plays and stories of Kings and Queens and swordsmen and use our ‘rulers’ from the geometry boxes as swords and fight imaginary intruders and invaders .. the audience was the minimal safe of the house .. and their children at times .. but mostly it was just us and between us ..
The verandah had steps to the pathway of the home where eventually we with time got our first car - a Ford Prefect, navy blue in colour - but till then on it, we cycled our cycle, our transport to School and to the Civil Lines, the main market to get the food and goods for the house ..
It was on this pathway that we would play Holi and Diwali crackers .. the lawn was no entry for us, for its ruin would ruin the Cup at the flower show ..!
The verandah had steps and on it we sat and watched those rare moments when we could afford to get a puppet show to come and perform for us .. or the ‘bandarwala’ the monkey man, who would come with his pet monkey and perform all kinds of tricks that had been taught to him .. or the ‘bhalu wala’ the bear man .. who would bring his pet bear and do mock wrestling matches with him ..for our entertainment and pleasure for a fee .. i believe now all this has been banned under the cruelty to animals Act ..
On this verandah on a lazy Sunday morning my Father would call that old gentle looking grey bearded man to come and play his ‘sarangi’ and entertain us with some of the most memorable folk music of the times .. his tired broken voice was so attractive and sonorous and melancholic ..
The verandah .. where we would rush to when in the summer we were all sleeping in the open in the lawn, and a sudden shower would come down .. quickly carrying our beds and beddings from the lawns to the verandah and try to get back to sleep again .. safe from the rain ..
The verandah … where on occasion when we could afford mosquito nets - the ‘masehri’ - and feel very independent and possessive of the solo space that the ‘masehri’ gave you for your own singular bed .. where, when in years we were given the joy of the purchase of a new pair of shoes, we would clean and shine it and keep the pair under our pillow inside our ‘masehri’ .. getting up randomly at night to see if they still with us and secure .. !!
The verandah .. that had been pelted with mud cakes made during the first break of the rains and in the sludge we played and threw these packs at each other, landing all over the verandah walls and the scolding and the wallops from Mom and Dad for destroying the space and then putting us to cleaning it up ..
The verandah .. where we sat on the steps during the rains and were given a bucket full of the ‘chusni’ mangoes to eat .. watching the lashing rains, drinking pot fulls of milk along with the mangoes .. and suddenly alarmed by that snake that swam out from the water and wrapped itself around one of the pillars where we were sitting .. shooed away by the servants bravely ..
The verandah .. which we would stand on and wet the ‘khus khus ki tatti’, those ‘khus’ drapes over the doors to cool the rooms in the oppressive heat of the summer months .. at times bringing in blocks of ice to roll them on the floor to bring in some cooling ..
The verandah .. which had a bathroom on the other end .. a bathroom which surprisingly of the times, had a cement tub .. which we would imagine was our swimming pool … and which in our enthusiasm while ‘swimming’ in its very constrained space, a few feet this way and that, was pushed against the wall into my mouth by my brother, chipping my front tooth .. which Ladies and Gentlemen, I carried till the time almost when I came to Mumbai to join the films and had it repaired because I did not have the money to go to a dentist earlier ..I had never dared to smile till then, because that chipped tooth made me look like Dracula, when I did ..
The verandah .. where we stood solemnly and raised our flag singing the Anthem on Republic Day and Independence Day ..
The verandah .. which we were so scared to cross at night when asked by our parents late evening sitting on the lawn to go and put the lights on inside the house .. gosh it was the most frightening moment of our lives .. at times it still is, even here in the darkened home or a room ..
The verandah .. where we sat during its season and watched the ‘mahua’ tree blossom and shed its flowers, used as a drink in some regions .. and the ‘tesu’ tree flowers that were used for the colour orange for the festival of Holi .. original natural contents, unlike the manufactured and cosmetic chemical ones used now ..
Gone are those days, of simplicity .. and laughter and happiness in whatever we had .. in limitations .. now driven by the earnestness of desire to do more, to possess more .. where shall we take all this .. what will we do with it .. the plenty and the more ..
The pyre and the grave has space limitations …
And you would never know what came along with you …
Amitabh Bachchan many spacious lawns and balconies and courtyards came and remain now with me, but none could replace the .. verandah