The earliest memories of my childhood center around the palatial home which my grandparents had built painstakingly using their hard-earned money in the heart of Dhanbad. A home which was filled with laughter, sudden guests coming unannounced and sharing a meal with us, different smells emanating from the kitchen when food was still cooked using coal and wood. My father was working in SAIL, Bokaro and I used to stay with my mother, grandparents, uncles, aunts and my cousins in Dhanbad. Dhanbad and Bokaro are twin cities and separated by 48 kilometers. And, since my father had just started working, he felt that my mother and me still need the care of a family. So, he used to visit us in the weekends while we can enjoy the company of everyone in the family.
I was the first girl born after two generations in the family. My father is four brothers and my grandfather has six brothers, so you can fathom the joy when I was born, and I was pampered a lot. I was the doll of the house. They loved me unconditionally so whenever an uncle, grandfather goes out for some business they will look forward to buying something for me. My aunt will dress me up, put little bit of makeup and all doled up, I would be ready for my evening walk with my granny. But somehow all these love and adulation had made me stubborn and a fussy eater.
Ours was a joint family and my mother will be really busy in the kitchen as almost 15-16 people used to stay together and though all my aunts and my mom will cook all the meals but, it was a lot of different chores both inside and outside the kitchen . In the evening dinner would be ready by 6 or 7 . I think I was around 4 years old that time when my mother will take me to the terrace . Being a big house , the terrace too was quite big . She will also take my toys and my dinner with her . And she will hide pleading me to search and find her . And I will search for her running all around looking into the nooks and corners . And if locate her I will be squealing with joy and in that joy I will gobble a piece of roti which she will dip in the curry/dal which was made that day. And the game will continue for almost an hour when sometimes I will not be able to find her, she will come and give me a dhappa. The laughter that followed when I would locate her and my mother’s mellifluous voice when she will plead me to eat my dinner added a divine beauty to the whole game. This was the ritual which mother will perform every day so that I can eat my dinner. She will be working hard all day, being the eldest she will be managing the house , looking after the guests , cooking for so many people. But still will take out time to play with me in the evening so I sleep with full stomach . Those memories still rushes me when I go to my home . I can still see my mother running behind me so that I can eat a piece , the memories lie perched in that house , the approaching footsteps still gives goose bumps, the laughter still rings like bells chiming in the temple.
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