"There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature."
Jane Austen

Saturday, August 9, 2014

HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY, my Dearest House - বাড়ির জন্মদিন, ৩০তম

My father had built this house from scratch. There used to be a pond here.. that was turned into a plot of land by filling it up with soil, mud, rubble, rubbish, etc. Baba bought this land that was less than 1.5 Kottahs in area. Then he designed this house (one of the most brilliant designs I have ever seen, the design that makes this little bit of land look so spacious, the large glass windows that flood the house with sunlight and air, the three attached toilets with three bedrooms) and got the plan sanctioned. Then started the actual part, the building of the house. He had stood  with the masons and other workers day in and day out, overseeing the construction of his own house. He used to have an umbrella to brave the scorching sun or the torrential rain. He used to spend hours on the building site, after his office and on weekends. He had also spent a couple of nights here when the construction got halted for some time due to shortage of funds. He was building this house with the help of a loan that he had taken from his employer (Yes, he was an employee at an architectural firm at that time). He, being an architect, has designed countless houses, buildings, townships, and hospitals throughout his entire life. But, this was his own house he was building. I was a 5.5yr -or 6 yr-old when this whole process had started. And I remember every bit of the excitement that I had experienced from the very beginning of the entire process. Our first trip from Dhakuria to this locality to have a look at the land, me overhearing and understanding that the land is being bought for a house would be built where we would be living, the "Bhitpuja" where tiny fragments of gold and silver had to be planted into the soil, people in this locality who helped Baba with everything he needed, the electrical fittings, tiles, and other toilet fittings that Baba had purchased with utmost love, storing of those things for months in our Dhakuria house, our occasional visits to the building site and my amazement at witnessing mortar getting spread between bricks, walls getting erected, tiles getting pasted on walls with two types of glue, stairs being made, the terrace being washed, and a lot lot more. Finally, the smell of plaster of paris, and new paint. Finally, the house was complete. Just when the house was complete, and the Grihapravesh or Housewarming date was approaching, Baba fell sick with a severe attack of Bacillary Dysentery. Thankfully, nothing had to be postponed, and the Grihapravesh took place on the day that had been chosen by the priest, that was August 8, 1984. Baba somehow managed. Everything that happened and every people that accompanied my family in the Grihapravesh preparations from the day before to the day of the function remain vivid in my mind. Sejomasi, and Fu-Thamma were two of them. Khukupisi had come, I remember. And ChhotobuRo sat on the step of the balcony with almost his entire body hanging out. And Ma had walked around the house with the slippery "LyaTa" fish in one hand and a vessel full of water on her head. And a bowl of milk was made to boil in my room which was then "our" room to be shared by me and Buro. The cooks had prepared a wonderful fish curry with cauliflowers, the taste of which I still remember. It still remains the best fish curry I have ever had in my life. Baba and Ma needed to spend three nights at this house according to the rituals. As the furniture had not yet been brought in from our previous residence (the rented house at Dhakuria where Sri Purna Das Baul was our landlord), a folding bed was purchased. I remember, there was a power cut when Thamma, me and Buro were leaving for Dhakuria with other relatives.  We shifted with our furniture, luggage, and all belongings on 14th August, 1984, six days after the Grihapravesh.

But, Baba somehow always wanted to mark and celebrate the day of August 8 as the Birthday of the House "13C, Jagannath Ghosh Road". The 7-yr-old me and the 5-yr-old BuRo had taken to this idea with all our enthusiasm and excitement. Never did the idea of Birthday of a House felt absurd to us. We were very serious about it and always remembered it, no matter what. Baba used to bring a cake and we used to light the exact number of candles as the house completed its 1st, 2nd, 3rd years and so on. Thamma used to share our excitement with her lively character. There were years when Baba had even taken us out to dinner or had brought dinner home to celebrate "BaRir Janmodin". Yes, that is what he called it and that is what we called it. I do not know if Joya didi remembers that on the August 8th of 1986 she and Mago and Jethu were here and we had cut a cake on our dining table and Jethu had taken pictures which we still have (there was a power cut that evening). 

This House, 13C Jagannath Ghosh Road, completes its 30th year today. Today, August 8, 2014, marks the 30th Birthday of this beloved house of mine, the house that was built with my father's sweat and toil, the house that was made into a home by my mother, the house that had my Thamma, the house that stands witness to ups, downs, journeys, successes, failures, losses, joys, sorrows, reliefs, apprehensions, adda-s, celebrations, reunions, togetherness, surprises, disappointments, smiles, tears, visits, homecomings, goodbyes, sicknesses, recoveries, and what not. 

Nobody except me stays in this house right now. Seldom does anybody visit. I do not know whether anybody even remembered that today was 8th of August, or today was the 30th 8th of August. I remembered it since yesterday morning and, realizing the special milestone, had wanted to call every member of this house to visit it once, today at least. But, then, I knew Baba can't come, so can't Ma, and the others might not find time, and Jethu's heart would only be heavy if he could not come to keep my invitation. Thus, I took the easy way out and took some sweets for everybody. Just as I mentioned the date to Baba, he nodded and said he remembered. As I mentioned that today his house completes 30 years of its existence, he said "We must celebrate today.. We must enjoy ourselves". I said, "How can you celebrate our house's birthday here at a different place keeping the house empty and deserted". He kept thinking. 

I dont remember since when the cake-cutting on 8th August had stopped. Maybe, it stopped when Buro had left for Aurangabad.. or maybe even earlier. I could not arrange a lavish cake today. Neither could I bring Baba Ma Buro Sayari Jethu and everybody to the house today. Neither could I make any decoration or adornment. But, I am glad that I could celebrate with rasogollas. I am happy that I remembered. I am elated that Baba had half a Rasogolla knowing that it was a celebration of the 30th year-completion of the house he had made from scratch. I am proud that I love this house. I am blessed to have it as my shelter.

Happy Birthday, my Dearest House, 13C Jagannath Ghosh Road! Happy 30th Birthday, my abode! May there be many many many happy returns! 

~ Me, the one who always comes back to you. Love you. 

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