Hello friends, in the present trying times a dive into the sea of memories of one’s childhood is the safe bet to rewind and relax. In my previous post I told you about my adolescent days, that were before the advent of the era of cable television and internet. Let me tell you another antic of my eleven year old self.
As I told you earlier that we lived in a small colony of a coalliery where people lived like a one big family, always together in happiness and sorrow. All the children mostly my age or younger to me and consequently had no problem in following me, regarding which kind of game to play or planning any mischief. From 4 to 6 pm in weekdays and indefinite hours during holidays (untill our mothers issued the third warning to come home) was our own time to spend. Apart from playing, plucking guavas or collecting raw mangoes or bathing in the river, right beside our quarters, we had a favorite pass time, that was observing a very ancient old lady around 90 years of age.
You may be wondering what is so special about it. The chief attraction was that the old lady lived a reclusive life along with her almost 60 years old son, who looked older than his age. The uncle was a an affable man and joined in the ‘adda’ sessions of the elders and was more than friendly to us. The uncle lived with his old mother while his family stayed at their ancestral home.
But he isn’t the protagonist, the lady in question was his mother,a frail, toothless lady with a wrinkled face. Her tiny body bent further by the stooping with age, yet it didn’t hinder her agility in dispensing off all the chores of a household. She had a short prickly silver hairs and only a white, shortened version of a saree wrapped around her thin body. It’s not only her peculiar appearance which drew us towards her, it was her cranky and cantankerous nature which acted like a magnet for us.
All the doors of her house were always shut, nobody except her son was allowed to enter her den. There was a gap in the wooden door of her courtyard and provided us perfect medium to watch her activities. We used to peep through it waiting for her to come out on the open. Eventually when she did, one of us would call out, “O Thakuma (grandma), what are you doing?” It instantly followed by flurry of rebuke from her. We didn’t understand a word coming out of her toothless mouth but it was quite palpable that if she got hold of us, she would teache us a lesson for teasing her. Her angry reaction was highly entertaining for us.
Once I was peeking through the door with my gang on toe, there was no sign of her in the courtyard. We were discussing to leave, when suddenly the door opened and her small figure appeared. Without allowing any time for us to respond, she quickly got hold of my wrist by her left hand and a worn out coconot stick broom holding in her right one, her eyes shining in the glory and her indecipherable voice gloating over the victory well deserved for her.
Apparently she was waiting behind the closed door for us, as the tiger waits for it’s prey. Realizing my capture, rest of the children ran for their dear lives. Friends you can easily imagine the horror freezing my heart, eyes widened, throat turning bone dry. It felt like that was the end of me!
Belatedly I made a last ditch effort to extricate myself from her grip but it was almost vice like and impenetrable! I then sent a silent SOS to my hiding friends and the next moment I was dragged inside the house and the door was firmly shut.
After the hasty intimation of an impending doom, a rescue effort was promptly launched by my mother and other available aunts. They kept on banging the door, frantically, pleading the old lady to release me. A good quarter of an hour passed, before the old lady deigned to open the door but without me! Continuing the suspense, she just gestured with her hand to the ladies to follow her. The entire entourage comprising of the children too, got inside with great trepidations.
What they discovered? I was sitting blithely in a small stool eating a homemade sweet made with dessicated coconut and sugar syrup(Narkol Naroos) which tasted just heavenly. My terrorized face had evidently melted her heart and eventually won her over.
The ceasefire had been called after that day. It was the start of long lasting friendship between the old lady and us. We had now easy access to her home. And we all helped her in small ways we could, like grinding her betel leaf in pestle for her to consume and other smaller errands. In turn she treated us with delicious homemade sweets. She told us stories about her life as a young bride, we understood half of it due to her toothless state, yet obediently nodded in unison.
Hope you liked this edition of my childhood pranks. Wishing you all health and happiness.
Adieu for now.
Read another one of my childhood stories here: https://mousumisays.wordpress.com/2021/05/13/reminiscing-my-childhood/