Every summer vacations, our 10 days used to be reserved to visit my Mama’s home. It was perhaps the only outdoor visit we used to have in the whole year; so excitement was natural.
We would go to bus stand with mother. Then a bus, 45 minutes journey. After that, 3 kilometer journey on foot as Mama’s village was not connected to road at that time. I used to be particularly excited about those 3 kilometers on foot (My adventurous side was visible very early in life :d). One year, while we were going on foot, a known person stopped his bullock-cart and offered us to sit. He was of same village as my mother and they knew each other from childhood. So, my mother and younger sister sat on the cart. But I, 8 years old then, refused to sit. I screamed that I had waited for a full year to walk those 3 kilometers and no one can snatch my that joy. Amazed they were, it was hot afternoon of mid June. Why this kid wants to walk? Do normally kids care about this? But I was persistent, I will walk. Here I remember the understanding shown by my mother. She unboarded the cart and asked that person to move on. Had some other mother been in her place, she would have slapped me or forcefully dragged into the cart. But she respected the wish of a kid. So, we walked the distance, over the river bridge, within the forest. I know, deep inside, she also enjoyed walking those miles. Ah, it overwhelms to think that.
Mama’s house was very simple, no decorations, electricity only few hours a day. They had no T.V. and no video games to accompany the kids. But our childhood was never dominated by technology, we didnt give a fuck to electricity.
In morning, I used to accompany my Mama on the river. He used to go there to wash the buffaloes. I didn’t know swimming. My father had strictly asked me not to swim, not even to step in water ( he was so possessive, he still is). But my mother always a bit supportive, a bit practical. She allowed me to step in the river and to learn swimming. In villages, there are no swimming pools, there is no safe 3 feet. It was a deep river, rivers are deep. So, I learnt swimming early in childhood, now I am a master in that (Thanks again to Mother).
I noticed, in my mama’s home, mother used to have an unusual liberty, unusual influence over the matters. She allowed us to climb trees, to swim, to learn bicycle. But in my Papa’s house, her wings used to vanish. She got stricter, obeying my father’s wishes. This is dilemma in life of ladies; they are always different in their own house and in husband’s house. Even after spending the whole life, Mama’s house is still her own, Papa’s house is still papa’s.
My Mami is worth a mention here. She is a fat lady, Kaamchor, she isnt very responsible and never works hard. But one thing special in her is cooking. I always made sure that she cooks for me. Her mango curry, Dal, Bharwa shimla mirch were too delicious to be explained in the words.
Then, my summers would be marked with a lot of reading. In my paternal side, no one has much hobby of reading. There were no books, no newspaper. I used to scream for newspaper, but father never started it. He said he can’t afford, I know we always could afford a newspaper. But father wasn’t interested in reading and he thought its unnecessary to have a paper for 7-8 years old kid.
But Mama’s home was a paradise. My Nana was such a reader, of vedas, ancient texts, philosophy. But at that time, I was only interested in reading newspaper and child story books. I would demand them from my Nana and he would shower me with good child stories; that was the time when I heard the name of Premchand. Premchand was favorite of my Nana Ji.
Nana died in 2009. I now curse myself, of not having done enough religious talks with him, not asking his book recommendations, not discussing his experiences with reading. But I was just a kid.
Whatever I am, by attitude, looks and hobbies, there is more influence of maternal side than paternal. That’s why I always say I am closer to my mother than father. Closer to my mama than my paternal uncles.
Its again the same May, same summers but never the same. No summer vacations, no small discoveries, no small joys. No more wandering in Mango gardens in hot afternoons when everyone was sleeping, no more running in mud fields, no more sleeping on roofs. So much has changed, for better or worse; who knows?