Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Smelling the flowers on the way

It's summer. Almost. And I try to desperately think why I have no memories of scorching summers during childhood.

Most recollections are warm summers that were just hot. Never unbearable. Summers remind me of shady trees, sleepy afternoons, ice lollies, long walks, longer daylight hours, millions of fireflies in the night as I rest my head on mom's lap and count stars. While I listen to her stories, fascinated.

But winters were a different story... foggy, little woolen gloves, warm fireplaces and lots of cold cream. And finally the huge olive tree at my grandma's place. Forbidden to eat the fruit in the chilly weather, my earliest memories are of racing towards the olive tree as the icy wind slapped my face. Of eating the sour fruits and getting my throat hoarse. While I pant, under the tree, face flushed red and hot from the run, my cousin would produce a little brown stick and light it. A gift from the cousins from 'foreign'. And dear cousin would smoke half the ciggy and give me tips on things to eat later to cut out the smell of the smoke.

Grandma's lovely cottage, I believe was gifted to grandpa by the British. He worked for a British tea company and mom spent a childhood with little English children chasing butterflies with their nets. The cottage stood pretty surrounded by lawns and gardens and open fields.

Along the lane after the cottage, was a little village and a full day of my holiday would be spent being dragged by mom from one house to the next as she went to visit the members of each and every house. Everybody seems to be somehow related and the way promises were made to visit, I had visions of the whole village arriving at our door some day. Aunts and uncles emerged and I would be hugged and squeezed and pinched. Finally at dusk, stuffed painfully with food lovingly fed at every house, we would head back to grandma's cottage.

What I loved most was the ritual after that. We would walk past a field with wild flowers and bamboo trees. And in a clearing in the middle lay a neat little patch. A stone epitaph marked my mom's father's name with fresh flowers around it. He was cremated in the place he loved best. Close to his home and hearth. As I bow in reference to a man I have never seen, I wonder what my mother must be feeling to be standing at the grave of the man who taught her to walk and talk. A man who openly loved his only daughter and shamelessly favoured her over his 7 sons.

At that moment I feel my heart tug as an invisible bond tightens. A bond with a dead man. I look at mom and see the serenity on her face. We are both one, two women, part of him, part of the circle of life, standing against a crimson sky. Slowly mom takes my hand and we walk home.


Blogger shub said...

Absolutely lovely picture you paint there! :)
happiness is reading a warmth-filled post like this and almost feeling that you were there :)
PS: where did u grow up?

4:39 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

shub: I grew up in a little town in Assam. It's a beautiful place.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous K said...

beautiful description...i too smelled flowers on the way!

4:59 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Beautifully written. I love the way you describe stuff. Keep 'em coming!

8:14 PM  
Blogger AmitKen said...


I almost visited your grandma's place while reading this. :)

8:29 PM  
Blogger Akruti said...

Well,very few have the ability to make the readers go through the various emotions with which they might have refered the words here,and u have such an ability.It sure takes me down the memory lanes,wandering into the fields and thinking of the beauty and serinity of the nature and the feelings for the man who made a diff surely in u r life.Life indeed is a full circle.
Well,i wanted to answer u r query which u putup in my blog,i am same as u see me here in my blog,but only a part of me is here,which i may coverup from the world,rest is the part of the tough cookie who can face the world:)

6:08 AM  
Blogger Khushee said...

That was beautiful :)

8:39 AM  
Blogger imhunt said...

Am not much of a praise person. I peddle Mammon's goods though. Would you be interested in writing for a fortnightly that hit the Mumbai streets very soon. It's a private thing by a bunch of young people. There is no big publishing firm or media house involved in this venture, we are relying on a USP that struck the publisher a while ago. Content of course is not the USP it's a must. If you are interested you could mail me at allblanks@gmail.com
ps: I generally leave messages like this one instead of mailing

5:32 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

k: Welcome. Thanks.

gratisgab: Thanks.

amitken: I am glad you did. It's a lovely place.

neelima: Thanks for saying such a lot of nice things. The tough cookie things sounds interesting! Would love to read and know more.

khushee: Thanks.

imhunt: You don't praise. I am still flattered. Thanks.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Mint Chutney said...

Wonderful post. My dad went to school in Assam. He still to this day talks about how beautiful it was.

3:24 AM  
Anonymous Kahini said...

Lovely. I didn't grow up in Assam but you make me feel like I did.

11:24 AM  
Blogger venkat said...

I have been wondering about the place where you are from for a long time after reading that pumpkin stuff, long bus rides to go to the college etc.Thanks for clearing a little bit of my curiosity.I have an idea of life in most of the India as I travelled from Madras to Jammu and Bombay to calcutta, but no idea of the life, cities and people in the North-East. May be One day I get a chance to hang around that neighbourhood.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah the scent of the flowers.. isn't that what i am named after? ANGELFLORALSCENT... floral scent... hugs. ^_^

1:19 PM  
Blogger Chakra Sampath said...

so very nice.

2:50 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

Mint chutney: Wow! Your dad schooling in Assam! Though must admit he grew up in a far beautiful place than I did. With so much of terrorism, the place's losing its beauty.

Kahini: You come visiting sometimes. Gran's cottage is still there though she's no longer around.

Venkat: You just had to ask, I would have told you where half the stories originated. If you get a chance, visit the NE, you wont regret it.

angel: Yes, borrowed your name for my post.

chakra: Thanks.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Primalsoup said...

Wow, idyllic childhood days in small pretty towns with tons of character, and fabulous people is something i totally relate to.
Thanks for the comment on my Blog, that way I found yours! :)

3:55 PM  
Blogger Shilpa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Shilpa said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog, anumita! Have we connected before? On ryze maybe?

10:44 PM  
Blogger Pallavi said...

I never got to meet my grandad and all i know is through the stories... and i cannot imagine the bond that I missed out on :(

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love and peace be with you, the ANgel Floral has glided down here to let you know you are loved... hugs

9:37 AM  
Blogger arvindiyer said...

Hey it was wonderful to see ya back in my world after a loong time..thanx a lot for the wishes and the prayers for my dad...he is better now and things are gr8 rite now...Hope to cya around more often...Peace and Love:)

12:23 AM  
Anonymous preetam rai said...

Hi Anumita

I don't really know Leylop, though I have been following her blog for some time now. She has been travelling for a while now, so I think she will be fine. In a lot of ways China is like India. You often meet similar scamsters in China too and most of the time they are pretty harmless, like trying to make a quick buck.

Yours stories are nice too. I used to live in Mumbai until 1991. It's good to hear from someone over there,

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Santanu said...

Ahh Summer!! So sad we don't get much of it here in the northern tip of Bangladesh! It's humid here and pours every time the mercury tries to creep up! Raipur was a great place to feel the Indian summer! 48 degress, n bone dry!!

7:28 PM  
Blogger sanguine said...

fanastic post ,anumita ..
you took me with you there for a while with you ..

n btw (woman2woman) did you get the bai ? i know how important they are in mumbai ..no one knows that better ..i am blessed with a great one..someone loves me up there :D

5:42 PM  
Anonymous alpha said...

wow...lovely thoughts. Beautiful place..thanks for taking us there ticketless.

9:02 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

primalsoup: I guess when we grow up in these little towns, we carry them with us forever.

shilpa: Yes. On Ryze.

Pallavi: Even I never saw either of my grandfathers.

angel: Hi sweetie! How's you?

arvindiyer: Glad to know your dad is better. You take care.

preetamrai: Leylop writes really well. But I was getting a little defensive when all she was writing about was getting cheated and swindled in India. Especially when she's from China, herself. We Indians love India, you see.:)
Anyway, glad to know someone who had lived in Bombay.

Santanu: Even in Assam, we have rainfall throughout the year. I am sure Bangladesh must be equally beautiful.

sanguine: Thanks. My old maid is back. Touch wood. So things are better.

alpha: I go on these memory trips often. Jump in when you feel like. :)

11:10 AM  
Blogger eM said...

Hi thanks for commenting on my blog!
I love the idea of a cottage in the midst of greenery, it sounds fabulous. Do you still visit?

12:56 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

em: It's indeed lovely. Now that you mention, I realise I haven't visited for over 10 years...

5:08 PM  
Blogger Colors said...

Hi Anumita...long time no see? How have u been?

8:02 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

colors: I am good. How's you, colors?

1:16 PM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

There is a Ruskin Bond touch to your style. But it is definitely of almost equal quality, this I can say without talking about which of the two is better. Guess you wll write for the mumbai mag soon!

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Angel Floral

1:00 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

sudipta: You flatter me! I don't think I come anywhere close to God (Bond is one!).
Welcome to the blog. Remember you explaining to gabby about you being a man called sudipta.

3:27 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

angel: hugs to you too!

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Ash said...

What a beaytiful and evocative post .. almost felt like I was right there !

Thanks for stopping by...
..came by to check your blog out and am utterly charmed.
Will certainly be back :)

6:35 AM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

You're probably tired of reading this by now but this post is a pure delight. What a fabulous gift you have to be able to draw in your readers and take us to this place by means of simple words. Lovely lovely post. So glad to have found your blog through the sweet comment you left on mine. Thank you!

4:55 PM  
Blogger ammani said...

Very well written. Liked the part about how summers never seemed unbearably hot when we were kids. May be the mind edits out the unsavoury details in retrospect.

7:53 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

weary hag: Thank you and I simply love the way you write!

ammani: Welcome! Yes, the mind seems to retain the best and slowly wipe out the creases... your blogs are amazing!

10:30 AM  
Blogger anumita said...

ash: Thank you! Do come back.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Brother Roy said...

Joseph Paxton

5:52 AM  
Blogger Jack Naka said...

You have a great blog here! I will be sure to book mark you. I have a summer beauty site. It pretty much covers summer beauty related stuff. Check it out if you get time :-)

8:30 PM  

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