Thursday, October 22, 2009

The house and the mango tree...


What is a house after all? It is just walls and a few windows, a front and a back porch, a garage, a terrace, a few doors, and some people who call it home. Isn't it? Or is there something we missed?

May be we missed the small room up the stairway which had a rickety cot and a tiny bulb that hung over that cot. This room saw not only idle afternoons of tea and chit chats, but probably also saw some serious studying being done late at nights, probably it also saw the first kiss exchanged by an amorous and nervous young boy, and maybe it saw tears of rejection as well as joy. Today if we were to ask its long forgotten, cobwebbed and cracked walls to speak, maybe we would see a lot of important and not so important truths emerge.

What about the Huge Mango tree behind the house? The one that was used as a landmark. Many kids, many generations climbed its branches, planted by the grand old man who designed and built each room, each wall of this house, in memory of his eternal love. The tree, seasoned and weathered, has stood proud the test of all times. Did anybody know the simple story behind this planting? Did they know that the grand old man had once loved a woman deeply. The tree was planted as a sapling to grow with their growing love, so that one day they could point it to their grandchildren and say,"This is how huge our love is!!" They never got the chance to culminate the love, but the tree stood as a loving symbol of all that was beautiful once upon a time.

Then of course there is the inner courtyard. The humdrum of daily life, the washing of clothes and utensils, the tulsi at the centre, the diya that burnt each night only to fade with the rising of the sun. The lounging chair that was always kept here with an adjacent table with the day's newspaper and a glass of water. It was on this chair that the grand old man breathed his last at the age of 92.

The terrace, was the most romantic of places, this house saw. All the children of the grand old man got married here. Under the canopy of the stars and the brilliance of the moon, the sons had chanted their vows, pledging life long loyalty and love to their brides. What does it matter now that some loyalties were betrayed down the line, love was often compromised in the passing of the years. But on the day the sons brought home their wives, the terrace was the witness to the first exchange of shy glances, of the hope of a future to be built in this house. It was also the witness down the line to the wobbling feet of the kids born, of songs being sung on stormy nights, of lullabies cooed to drowsy ears, of drying clothes in winter afternoons, of sun soaking pickles, of naughty years and drinking bouts.

The house with its walls and doors, with its front and back porch, with its cobweb and ruined plaster is to be broken down. In it's place will emerge a multi-storeyed apartment. A functional and modern place with amenities that are required, with easy maintenance and upkeep, free form the mildew of the past. The decision has been reached, the sons have agreed. Its just a matter of time before the mango tree is cut down, before the existence of the room on the terrace, the inner courtyard, and the terrace itself crumbles down to the touch of a bulldozer.

We move with times, from the ashes of the old, rises the new. There is nothing unsightly about all this, there is no fight, there are no differences, its for the ease of all and the betterment of the future generation. Just that I needed to tell the tale of a house that was designed by a grand old man, brick by brick, the tale of a love that did not see the light of the day and yet weathered the storms of the night.





56 comments:

Akshay said...

Memories do have a life of their own. Beautifully written Sujatadi. You know my grandmother said that if there is no love and affection in a house, it is a ''makaan'' and a house is a ''house'' only when there is enough love and affection. Your write-up made me think so much about my ancestral house in Kerala and at the end of it, your thoughts just flow like the gentle waves hitting the seashore. Each word makes sense. All the best Didi.

Suraj said...

Wow ! As a guy leaving away from home the best thing that i always look forward to is going home, especially when the home has just been built and you personally selected everything from the room layout to the curtains....I miss my home and the mango tree i planted,hoping that when it grows to a big tree, it will have a story to tell....Great Article, felt as though i wrote it though i could never express so well.

R. Ramesh said...

the ending line was punching..how u doing friend? nice to yr post..cheers

Bhavya.B said...

I thought you were about to end the post with the moments cherished of that home .But it really pained at the end.
The mango tree made me nostalgic , even my home in Kerala boast of the company of a mango tree.

Indrani said...

This one had me glued from the first line to the last. Great post Sujata.

(Had been traveling, hope to share some good shots. )

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

you reminded me of my grandmother's childhood home. Its exactly as you described. Now no one lives there...those days will never come back!

Anil P said...

Most touching narrative. In it I could feel the longing, the awe as well as the despair on its imminent fate.

If only it could stay and grow like that mango tree.

Hopefully you'll tell of the house more, and put up pictures to go with it.

ZB said...

beautiful...no other word to describe the reading experience....i am reminded of my childhood....we spent a lot of our time on mango trees during summer vacations....and up above, we created our world. Excellent post. loved reading this.

अनिल कान्त : said...

Gr8 Post
शुरू से अंत तक खुद को पोस्ट में बंधा हुआ महसूस किया मैंने

बचपन के घर...कितने सुखद

Nazish Rahman said...

Very well written, i simply loved your post!!A house to me is where u can find peace and meet yourself which to me is the most important thing.

The Holy Lama said...

Roots, they bind us. The tree maybe gone, but the roots remain. Maybe this feeling is most found in people who are very far from home. But the painful truth is that none wants to maintain old houses. The antique furniture is a attraction, though. Don't know what will happen to my grandparents house. Is your Baba one of the sons? Feeling sad reading the post.

Kavi said...

Wonderfully written.. As i read memories of my grandmothers house came in powerfully.

I was witness to how it was pulled down. And there a big grand hotel stands.

Yet, the house lives in the memory. That came alive with this post.

Thanks for telling this tale. In such a telling manner too. Vivid descriptions and lovely language. Brick by brick !

"the tale of a love that did not see the light of the day and yet weathered the storms of the night." Those lines moved me tremendously !

Lovely !!

Destiny's child... said...

That was so nostalgic Sujata. Beautifully penned. Loved it. And it also makes me sad...how people forget the good old times...but as you said, may be it's for the betterment....
And although we feel sad, the truth, as holy lama said, is that no one is willing to maintain old houses....

BK Chowla said...

It is a very touching and emotional story.A lot of people will be able to connect with it as their own family story.It is happening everyday.But you know we are very touchy in India.I don't think in the West they have such attachments.

deeps said...

i think it s no big deal building a house.. what is important n difficult is making a home of it ..

and this mango tree around there ...
i cant recollect, but im sure i have studied a poem in school with similar touch ..
cashurina tree..!!

mathew said...

lovely post..this reminds me of my grandparents home in native...where each room can talk a lot about the memories it carries along with it...

sulagna chatterjee said...

nice :) ekdom mon thike lekha

Nikki said...

What would we be without memories...:) :. Loved it!

Aparna said...

I went to that house straight from the hospital after I was born. I learned to walk there.If I remember correctly, so did you. And some 27 years later, my first born also learned to walk in that house.
The house holds a lot of memories, most of them good.
May be with the house, all of us will lose a part of our childhood.
I am feeling sad about letting go of our shared past.
It will be like losing a family member.

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

I can feel it, for I had gone through it. I saw the ancestral home of my mother being pulled down, now there stands a two-storeyed concrete house. The dark corners, the huge Chinese jars in which salted mangoes were kept, the smell of ripened mangoes covered in hay, the pond, a huge box to keep tamarind…and a slightly bend gentle old woman with silver hair, my grandmother, now all had gone. It was a much awaited occasion to go there during vacation. There at that home I fought with my cousins, sibling rivalry attained a new peak there, was treated like a prince, I climbed trees, fell down, went back with bruised elbows, knees and a happy heart. I still remember a particular night I found myself soaked in sweat. I had this nightmare that some Khalistan terrorists were attacking us. (Thanks to the generous dose of information I used to get from newspapers and magazines about Bhindranwala and his men). I still remember those guys hurling bombs at us. And the bombs were nothing but incandescent bulbs; that was my idea of a bomb then. Haa your post opened the floodgates of memories in me. Beautifully written.

“the diya that burnt each night only to fade with the rising of the sun.”

the diyas’ role ends with the emergence of the sun, right? Melancholic it is.

PURN!MA said...

m speechless!

Mustaf said...

This reminds me of my maternal grand parent's house, where each corner has a story to tell about the time we spent there.Every vacation, I would just eagerly look for to spend the entire time there, those are just fading memories.The "building" is still standing there not the house, the relationships have lost the warmth, people have scattered :( May be it is natural, the 'old' has to make way for the 'new'...

numerounity said...

Wow…It was so lovely. I was kind of transported to some old era and house of that sort incl my nani badi and the places where I have spent living many years. Truly, the era is dying beneath the stereotyped concrete walls of today.

Nona said...

You have written it well. Was it inspired by personal experiences?

sujata said...

@Akshay Thank you Akshay all of us have these wonderful memories of outr ansestral homes.

@Suraj When I look at you I really feel proud of the fact that at your age you are taking on so much, and with such patience and such sense of responsibility. Each brick of your home is built with such hard earned money. I am sure the mango tree will have a lovely story to narrate to your grandchildren one day.

@Ramesh thanks

@Bhavya B all our homes have these lovely trees am sure there was a lot of love and hope when they were first planted.

@Indrani thanks will look forward to your post

@Roshni yah those days will never come back, just the memories will hold fort.

@Anil P thanks , I will try and put up pictures of the house

@ZB thanks, hope things are well at your end, I have yet to read your last post.

@Anil thanks very much

@NR yes home is where the hugs are

@Holy Lama thanks, this post will resonate with each one of us, we are all so bound to our roots, maybe day to day lives we dont really feel that much, but an incident like this and we get so moved. Yes My late Baba is one of the sons.

@Kavi thanks a lot, appreciate your comments always. Something which is real and close to heart reaches out to all other hearts without any resistance.This post proved that.

eve's lungs said...

Sujata such a beautiful post .

sujata said...

@Destiny's child true that it is very difficult to maintain an old house, there is logic behind the action, not denying it at all.

@BKC I think we are headed towards the west too, I am sure my kids wont have any sentiments when an old house is broken down, they might be more concerned over their own breaking marriages, carrers, etc..

@deeps, yes, The Casurina Tree, wasnt that a lovely poem, we had it in school as well. Whatever tree it is, the day it was planted am sure there was a lot of love and hope that went into it.

@mathews thanks

@Sulagna Chatterjee welcome to this page and thanks for aprreciating.

@nikki I wonder too...

@Aparna I have faint memories of Dadu's shraddha, I have faint memories of the numerous weddings on the terrace, The hall ghor, the big trunk in Moni ma's room was very exciting to me as a kid, I just loved the terrace, I still do, and the shiri'r ghor kind of spooks me even now. One of the best things that we did together was when we went to the previous house of our dad's in Cuttack, remember that day? I felt awesome, it was huge for me, and thanks to the family who allowed us just to go through the entire house. Yes a lot of our shared past will end with this house.

@Arun thanks for sharing your sentiments, I had forgotten about khalistan and Bhrindwallah, until you mentioned them now, They were quite a scary thing of our childhood yeras. Yes the diya does end with the rising sun, but its role is great, as it lightens our darkness.

@Purnima thanks

@Mustaf, hows the new dad? and hows the mom and the baby? Hope its fun and recharging for you to be the new dad!! The old has always given way to the new, at times graciously at times with a fight.

@Numerounity thanks

@Nona thanks, yes our ansestral home is to be broken down, talks are on that bit is true.

Mustaf said...

Mom and baby are fine and new dad is back to work, so little sad as they are still in Kolkata now:(

And just curious to know, you and Aparnadi are relatives/childhood friends or something like that? You seemed to have shared so much :)

♥ Braja said...

Beautifully written Sujata.....I love inner courtyards :)

ஷ‌ஃபிக்ஸ்/Suffix said...

Every olden days house has a story in it. You have reminded our old house back home, we used to call it "Big House'. Recently we have demolished constructed a new building, but people stick to the same old name 'Big House'!!

bluebird said...

A tale that had to burst out of you, right di?

Written indeed with a lot of heart!

prithvi said...

Well I feel the grand old man lies inside each of us, but we just need to search ourselves properly.............well written!!!!

kavita said...

Sujata, ! it gets very hard for me to comment on a post of this kind very true,very emotional and very touching...can any words comfort or ease the pain one goes through on forcefully accepting certain facts of life.I mean you are talking about GENERATIONS here,it takes me directly to the time when a young man planted the sapling dreaming of a happy union with his sweet heart,he must have been so happy and excited ...he must have checked and rechecked the plants so many times....his story comes alive through your words.No matter what happens he and this beautiful memories of the house and the mango tree will never die in many hearts.Sujata whenever you need you can always just close your eyes and climb that mango tree or that small room upstairs or run towards the inner courtyards...i do this and it works for me and with a little unnoticeable smile on my face i get up and continue my everyday life.
Have i told you...you are a magician of words.

Babli said...

Very beautiful post. Very well written. I always feel that house is a place to relax and all our fond memories lies in the house like spending the time together with the family, our childhood etc etc. Your post is very emotional and touching. Excellent.

The Things We Carried said...

This was an insightful post! It reminds me of the saying,"If walls could talk."

If the house could speak it would give the wisest counsel as it knows all the hopes and dreams of its inhabitants!

Balachandran V said...

It saddened me deeply to read your post. How many, how many like your house, how many, how many like your grand old man! In the relentless of march of time, all have to perish, to give way to the new. In one's lifetime one has to witness the passage of time and things we loved. It is inevitable, though. I too, may have to relinquish my ancestral home which I have clung to all these years, due to the compulsion of circumstances. When, in my mind, I ask the forgiveness of my old house and my old mango tree ( I have written couple of poems about him) actually I am asking forgiveness from myself.

Thanks for a beautiful write-up, Sujata!

Sumandebray said...

Very sad!
If I was you, I would have photographed every inch of that house and stroed them to prepare a virtual walk through someday. Physically you will not be spending much time there anyways! And every object in this world has a life cycle and an expiry date.
It is a rather nice house from what it appears from the photograph. Might be a certain design could be copied/replicated or relocated in the new house. I am sure I would not mind reusing hte main door. which looks quite grand from the pictures...
well these are my thoughts... some times we call it bhaat!!!
But think about it

Deeps said...

what a heartfelt post,Sujata.so very touching.
You've actually immortalized the house and the mango tree in your own way by weaving the memories so beautifully in words.

The house was built by your grandfather,is it?Being wherever he is,I'm sure he must be very proud of you that you honoured his feelings,his sentiments so well.

God bless you,Sujata :)

R. Ramesh said...

hey thanks ya...sure u doing well. best wishes always.. and one day u guys will make it to the uae..am sure..hehehe

Jyothi said...

Beautifully written as usual.I know the feeling.We had to bring down my maternal grandparents house too. I was in college then.Everyone said, it was better to break it down than it falling down by itself. That was the belief that went into the decision.Its just a foundation now, but the surrounding is intact.I still get dreams of the house.My only regret is that I was the first one in the family who did not get married in that house. :(

Butterfly Thoughts said...

your posts always make me nostalgic and takes me to a trip down the memory lane. My grand father also built a house and its stil there in cal. A big one. and I just love going there. I feel alive and refreshed there. A beautiful posts with some emotional words. Loved it.Memeories stay they stay forever

Sujatha said...

Lovely, lovely post.

sujata said...

@Mustaf Aparna and I are first cousins from our dad's side, so we have this house and a lot lot more in common..

@Braja thanks for dropping by. Hope your trip was good.

@Suffix, The big house..tharvadu is that what you call it?

@Bluebird whatever is written with heart reaches out in the same intensity. I did not have to sit for more than an hour to pen this.

@Prithvi very correct.

@Kavita i know what you mean, thanks a lot for sharing this with me.

@Babli thanks

@the things we carried thanks

@Bala thanks

@SumanDebRay the architect speaks right!! I will take more pics when I go to cal this december. Its not bhat at all, very insightful and heartfelt suggestions.

@Deeps thanks

@Ramesh yah we will make it to UAE..just wait. I have to see the lady with the lipstick

@Jyothi thanks, aww why didnt you get married in that house?

ஷ‌ஃபிக்ஸ்/Suffix said...

@Suffix, The big house..tharvadu is that what you call it?

We call it as "Periya Veedu"!!

R. Ramesh said...

hey su...dont come to the uae..heheh..there's no lady with lipstick here..she has gone off to manila..heheh..joking yar..sure do plan..will be gr8 to meet good friends like u..

sm said...

beautifully written
where there is love there is a home

RGB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RGB said...

Loved reading your post. Reminds me of the song...'It takes a lot of loving, to make a house a home...' And I think, even if the 'old' house goes to dust, if love remains, you can always reconstruct another 'home' decorated with memories of the past.

Sakshi said...

I am speechless after reading this post. Years back my family decided to tear down our ancestral house too and somehow I was the only one who was dead against it even though at that age my opinions didn't matter at all. I cried for days coz I remembered every single words of my grandfather who built the house lovingly like yours. My grandfather used to tell me tales about how he and my grandmother built it with all the love and made plans for their future. Just a few days after he died, the family was busy planning to run down a bulldozer over his labour of love. you just made me cry again.

Bindhu Unny said...

You have painted a beautiful picture of a home through your words.
And the practicality of demolishing it!

gaelikaa said...

A beautiful memorial to a family home. I enjoyed it so much!

subu.ps said...

nostalgic. u made me feel that i had such an ancestral home, which I alwayz loved to have but never had in reality

sujata said...

@Suffix no my friend from kerala reffered to their ancestral home as tharavadu so thought..

@SM thanks

@RGB yah I guess we can, moreover the memories live on anyways in our hearts.

@Sakshi I keep making you and SJ cry..thats quite mean of me actually, just dont know why I end up writing such stuff, guess I have become zara zara touchy touchy types!!(inspired from the song)

@Bindhu Unny, @Gaelika, @Subu,ps thanks

deeps said...

lazy days or busy days? :-P

Pesto Sauce said...

Story of so many houses and not just of one. All built on hope but betrayed with time and regrettably betrayed by own

PS Your son looks cute

ani_aset said...

its terrible that i cant see the photo that everyone here have admired :( (images of blogposts are blocked in office, i will try from home)

You have weaved memories with an inanimate thing like house and brought it to life..a life i call "home"