Aatmyioswajon - A beautiful play that Ma and I watched yesterday.. Ma has not gone anywhere over the last 14 months except to hospitals, doctor visits, funeral of her dearest sister, or that shraddh ceremony.. Her life revolves around Baba's nurses, his diet, his Ryle's tube feeding, his catheter.. her pleasures these days are a few words from Baba or Baba orally having a little bit to eat..
My friend Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee has been staging this play over the last year or so, maybe just after the period when Baba fell sick.. So we did not have the fortune of watching this play.. together..
This time, when I heard that Aatmiyoswajon was about to be staged at the Academy of Fine Arts, I had an urge of watching it and taking Ma with me.. She needs to live.. We all need to live.. so that we can look after Baba untiringly.. so that we can handle the depressing situations without getting frustrated..
I am thankful that I chose to go.. Firstly because, it is a touching play that moves us from the very core.. Wonderful performances from Dolly Basu, Saumya Sengupta, and Sujoy.. overall a lovable production..
It is about those people who are not our blood-relations.. not our sons, or brothers, not our daughters or sisters.. It is about those people who care for us and love us despite not being genetically connected to us.. The driver who comes on a day when the city is standstill due to storm and rain that stops the son from visiting the mother.. The driver who brings hot jalebis for "Madam" on a day like that.. the driver who empathizes with "Madam" more than his son can imagine to do.. The way the Madam, outwardly very strict, teaches the driver to read, with affection..The way the driver pats Madam's head softly when she gets her first attack of dementia.. The way the driver does not forget to bring Bijoya-r Mishti to Madam when she is in asylum, while the son is busy in doing the important job of clearing the bills..
More than once, my throat ached as I was reminded again and again of what Sejomasi's caregivers in the old-age home told us after her death.. She had asked for laau-chingri and some other kind of fish.. and they had kindly brought that for her from their home.. they, the Aatmiyoswajon, the real ones, when we the fake blood-related ones were busy with our own lives, some tired after taking care of her for three weeks, and some doing our duty by just buying her bread and milk.. I, myself, know the value of Aatmiyoswajon because I, fortunately have a few, some who love me despite never having a blood or legal relation and some who .. well ...
We could not meet you Sujoy last evening, as it was quite late and Ma had to return far off.. She asked me to convey her love.. Bear Hugs to you.. and very very special and warm regards to Dolly Basu and Saumya Sengupta.. I will never be able to imagine that "Laalu" and his "Madam" are fictional.. they entered my heart, forever.. their expressions and appearances etched in my soul.. It will be incomplete if I do not mention the sound designer who created such apt sounds of the car being driven, and the other sounds needed for the ambiance.