Quarantine Diaries by Madhura
The global pandemic related to Corona Virus has made us live in silos.Our lives have changed dramatically over the past few weeks leading us to introspect about a lot of things.
Life has been quite hectic over the last decade, when change was the constant norm. This virus made us appreciate the smaller sources of happiness which we had as child. Here, I have tried to pen down those thoughts or emotions which we had grown up with and which have slowly been removed from our life, without us noticing.
In our childhood days, like every locality, ours too witnessed a stream of people coming and going all the time. Most of them were regular hawkers, selling wide range of products. At that time in Kolkata, we had women coming to sell utensils. They would generally wear very bright coloured sarees, matching with silver jewelleries. Tattoos were common on their left arm. They would call out in a typical fashion (“Bason nibi go”, will you buy utensils, the last part being a prolonged one) and we knew that there will be some exchanges of utensils today. They would have array of steel utensils with them, which would be exchanged with our old ones, along with handful of some new clothes-mostly sarees of mother or trousers of father. They were life savers for some families as well, since they would allow payment at installment at that time. Seeing the elders purchasing those utensils from a tender age, we also learnt the nuances of buying these stuffs.
Apart from the hawkers, we had other visitors also. Mainly during the winters, a man would come with two or three monkeys and earn by showing off the different skill set of these animals. It was a common sight in Kolkata at that time. As kids we enjoyed those acts thoroughly, even though now we understand how much cruelty it must have been towards those poor creatures.
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare”-Hail to Lord Krishna, Hail to Lord Rama. The song in the locality meant our beloved HareKrishna Dadu has come. Playing his portable harmonium, he will sing in praise of the Lord. Like many others in our locality, our grandmother will give him alms and some money. We would follow her to have a glimpse of HareKrishna Dadu. We, i.e. my sister and I had a knack of giving typical names to people around us. As is the custom in India, we would greet any elderly as uncle (kaku) or aunty (kakima / mashi) and the more elderly as grandpa (dadu) or grandma (dida). Just like HareKrishna Dadu, we had MistiMashi, who would bring some delicious sweets every fortnight or AcharDida who would sell handmade tasty pickles and papads. These people were the source of many of the hand-licking delicious food items which are closely related to our growing up. In later part of our life, we similarly had ChanachurKaku who was famous among the kids of the locality. His arrival was marked by the jingle of bells. Even today, when we come across ChanachurKaku, he treats us with the mixtures at nominal or no price, thus making a permanent place in our heart.
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