Saturday, February 14, 2009

Don't take back the city from me...

The wails reached his ears.He could no longer wait.He looked over to his wife , then sprang to his feet and proceeded towards the room with a spring in his step.His happiness knew no bounds...

17th July 1988 1:32 pm

As the monsoon drenched the city high and low, somewhere in a ward in Nobel Hospital,Indore a lineage had continued.Ramachandran looked on and on at the new arrival,at the tightly shut eyes,tightened fist and miniscule fingers.He then twirled his fingers around the jet black locks of the baby; feeling exalted.His first grandchild,born in the city which saw his whole life....

I, Mallika was born in Indore.
Indore with its Chappan dukan,Palasia,Meghdoot and Rajwada.
With its 'pakwaan' and sweets.
With the plateaus,the black soil underneath the feet and the rains.
With abundant cotton and cloth.
With a blend of the north and the south.
Indore with its thriving zeal.

There is a lot more to it which never catches my eye and probably I might never be able to fathom as well as my grandfather does.
For him it is his life, a part of his soul,embodiment of his spirit.
It was in 1966 when my grandfather decided to finally settle down in Indore.With his work at the textile mills and his children to be educated,he lay down the foundation for his love for the city. My grandmother, a devout, godfearing woman left her home deep down in Kerala to settle down with her husband.Something that she still talks about with a sparkle in her eyes is the way visitors used to throng their household and how she practically spent the entire day cooking three course South Indian meals.The youngest of her children( my aunt) walked her first steps in Indore.My mother ran about in her frocks in the city's gardens; her brothers chasing wildly after her.The very city whose Bum kachori waala brought about yelps of delight from the four children.(My uncle is still very nostalgic about it).When my mother and her sister fought their cold sisterly wars while bicycling through the lanes of Palasia.( One such incident led to my mother falling in the gutter..something for which she still holds a grudge against her sister).And then it was time to go to college;where the typical 'goondas' followed the sisters around.Or where my grandmother sang away to glory; her canatic music so appreciated that she got her break in radio and got covered by media.A place where she was afraid that her immense talent would get stagnant,she strived not only to keep the music in her alive but pass the knowledge down to generations.Where my grandfather was one of the pioneers of the South Indian Association and chaired the association's school.The city which not only gave them fame and respect but also a lot of love.
They faced a lot of hardships. His job.Their health.Their children moving away one by one,getting married.But there was never a time in 20 years when the thought crossed their minds to wrap up their lives in Indore and move in with their children.
My mother got married first.She made me an Indorian...My aunt's first child, my cousin Divya was also born in Nobel hospital exactly after a year I was born.Our favourite holiday spot was to be in Indore, among the milling crowd, among the hundred's of my grandparents' friends.

I am finding it difficult to type anymore.This past year I have had some very difficult moments.My grandfather who has been battling with cancer for sometime now came for a major surgery to Delhi.
The fact that he is unwell gives me nightmares.But the other day he mumbled,tired and exhausted, to my mother, to give away their house in Indore.
My mother got almost tongue tied as she told me this, gathering courage from within her which on the other hand was yelling away in protest.
I held the reciever and my mother's voice drifted in,trying to explain to me how they were too weak to go back now.I felt a knot in my throat,my eyes cringed and blinked too much and as I faced reality, I cried, cried like I had never before. They are probably never going back and living their lives as they used to.

And now as I wipe away the stray tear that had fallen while I was typing, I  feel remorse for my home for I might never find it to be the same place again.....