when two people start feeling bitter towards each other, any interaction between them can be so tiring, so loathsome and so depleting. one or both start feeling mean, enraged, cruel and punishing towards each other. such emptiness…
If i were to look back in my childhood, bitterness has been a constant companion in my surrounding … it has accompanied most people in their lives through their daily chores, mundane conversation, feelings towards each other.
little moments of relief came when i heard a tinkling of laughter from someone when she laughed at little nothing, when i walked on the afternoon-empty corridor imagining that i was actually walking on the sky as it reflected on the mirror held in my hand, when baritone voices came through the ancient radio kept in the corner of the big hall carrying the emotions of a lover unwittingly leaving his lady love, on the Friday night weekly radio play …. those moments were like magic windows that opened and closed if only for a few seconds .. those windows made life seemed good and even cheerful.
I can still see those summer afternoons when the strong tropical sun beating down on the 60’s Calcutta roads, melting it ever so slightly, tired hand cart rickshaw pullers wiping their sweat with the little piece of cloth kept on their shoulder, a thirsty crow cawing away somewhere behind the neem leaves, housewives are just about to retire to their lazy afternoon naps, the radio is broadcasting “anurodher ashor” (songs as requested) and the mellifluous voices of Manna Dey, Sandya Mukhopadhyay, Lata Mangeshkar and others filling up the hot and humid air; those were my afternoons … to sit there and watch the world carrying on doing its own thing. as i watched, the afternoon ever so slowly turned on its side, yawned, slumbered … and then, opened its eye and turned into evening, who more often than not, looked like a pretty slim teenager who had just learnt to wear her saree. the sky will be full of slightly pinkish clouds, the breeze from the river will start flirting with everyone on the road, the flower vendor will choke our nostrils with heavy scented jasmines … the kulfi malai (Indian version of homemade ice creme) vendor will stop exactly on the spot where he knows greedy eyes await his return every evening.
then came the night … i did not like nights for a very long time … it meant darkness, it meant waiting for dad to return home late, it meant encounter with millions and zillions of cockroaches in the toilet, it meant ‘no light’ … i hated ‘no light’. silence was not someone i welcomed … it only meant waiting for the morning to arrive.
it also reminded me of all the bitterness that i saw around myself the whole day. bitterness came back to remind me that it was there and will not go away in a hurry.