I never saw my maternal grandmother. My mother also hardly remembered her. My maternal grandmother gave birth to nine children and died of anemia when all her children were below 15 years. My mother was the fifth child. My grandfather brought up his children as a single dad in a rented house which was dangerously dilapidated. However we have wonderful memories of that house.
My maternal grandfather’s younger brother lived nearby. We used to call him “chotodadu”. As kids we spent most of our afternoons on the terrace of chotodadu’s house. The terrace was our secret hideout. It was a place where the elders didn’t go very often.
Chotodadu’s terrace became a part of our growing up. It was on that terrace where my elder cousin enlightened me on the ‘secret of life and birth’. Earlier I thought that kids were available from the hospital on demand. I smoked my first cigarette on that terrace. We cousins asked for some money from chotodadau. He used to love us and gave us the money thinking we would buy some candies; however we bought Wills cigarettes instead, and smoked on his terrace coughing violently throughout the process. Nobody found out because the smoke was ventilated out easily off the open terrace.
That terrace was also the place where we used to sit whenever we felt sad. I remember once me and another cousin of mine were not given a 5 star chocolate while our youngest cousin got it. We sat on the terrace sulking about the 5 star all through the afternoon.
When we started falling in love, that terrace became the place of confession and further planning. We all confessed about our first crushes on that terrace. That was the place where we used to plan out our actions regarding how to propose our crushes. Most of those proposals failed disastrously but that never deterred us from falling in love all over again. Most of us confessed about our ‘first kiss’ on that terrace.
That terrace was also the place for family gossips. We unearthed quite a few family secrets on that terrace as well. On that terrace I came to know how my Mom had fallen in love with my Dad. In my parent’s generation falling in love was a taboo. Most marriages were fixed by family elders. However my parents had the courage to defy age old traditions and marry the person they loved.
That terrace was also my place to read storybooks. Often there were few books strictly for the adults but I used to sneak on the terrace and read those ‘A’ rated books. I read Maitreyi Debi’s “Na Hanyate” and “La Nuit Bengali” by Mircea Eliade on that book. Well, today’s ‘50 Shades of Grey’ generation wouldn’t consider those books as adult but for us they were forbidden books.
Now the house has changed. My grandfather and chotodadu are no more. Even my parents are no more but the terrace remains as a beautiful reminder of the days gone by. Nowadays I never climb up the stairs to that terrace. I just feel that let me not disturb the terrace which holds lovely memories. Let those memories remain treasured in that terrace of my innocent days forever.