My Home and Its Terrace
I thought to jolt my head in the midnight and try and recall memories, recollect all that I could of my home, my first home, where I grew up and where I was born. It was more than two decades ago, but it is still as fresh as the smell of the breeze there used to be. Its as refreshing to draw as it used to feel there in the sweet November mornings. Home reminds me of the nicest of the things and gives me joy that is incomparable.
The terrace of my home was the most interesting place of all. After all it was not just any other rectangle terrace and I took price in it being the way it was, a marvel of old India architecture a combination of rectangle and a circle. Terrace was where we would start our day with heading straight towards the railings with toothbrush in our mouth. Swishing the all the time while enjoying the nature from different angles and corners until the mouth went dry and paste was all eaten. For we had an entire view of the North, West and South-West and a part of East. Sun would have risen and we would wait for it to climb up the rooftop ceramic tiles and glitter on its dew-laden lacquer. We could see the East bound railway track to Howrah and the south bound railway track to Mandar Hill. On North was the view to the street where traffic was hardly any. Once in a while a few hawkers would enter into our lane. Sometime a girl selling curd, carrying the earthen pot on her head; or sometimes a vegetable vendor with his 4 wheel cart of mix veggies or bicycle load of cauliflowers or potatoes. While being at railing we were also the instant messengers to relay information to mom that which hawker is come our way. We had our instructions to call stop for the required ones.
Then there was the Mango orchards and the very tall palm trees in the west. That was just beyond a small open filed and the next old single storey building. We always thanked god that the building prevented the ghosts from coming down to our homes; ghosts who I believed lived onto the 3 palm trees. It was deep rooted in thoughts all because of the stories from our grandpa and grandma used to tell on the same terrace. In far south-west there was a lake. It still exists. The lake was the most unknown territory for us. More so because, mom said there were crocodiles in it. There never were I believe now. Terrace used to be the telephone then, as we would shout out to the neighbours from there. Better seen and heard if we moved to 2nd floor terrace. Terrace was our ‘whatsapp forum and our ‘facebook’. Terrace was our twitter and terrace was our pinterest. Smiles were shared in real time with real persons and our location was known to all. ‘hi-five’would be happening by throwing the nearest visible brick chip or a beetle nut to other’s terrace. Aiming improved by time. Terrace was what we would cross the whole of it to let the world know that we were off for a dump in the corner square. So silly of whosoever designed the house. Terrace was our shower ground and the changing sky. All we needed was just a towel in hand. Terrace is where all our clothes would dry, and terrace is where grandma would let her bottles of pickles in sun day after day. She would always know that how did some pickles go missing everyday. Grandpa would take hours to carefully shave in the winter sun. He would sit in the iron armchair with plastic stripes woven into it in designs of diamonds and checks. I remember, he would keep his folding mirror on to top of a paint bucket, that would sit atop a wooden 3-legged stool. While summers were hot, rains were best enjoyed dancing on the terrace. We also ate the tiny ice pearls that would fall in as hailstorms. Winters were cold so all the afternoon was spent on a mat laid perpetually. I would play carom and chess with my grandpa there. Terrace was the playground and it was the study. By evening we would neatly sit around an oil lamp on ground and do our homework together enjoying the breeze and safeguarding our lamps from being blown off, while at the same time mom would be cooking in another end at the verandah. Electricity was luxury as was the table. The terrace was our dining, as we would carefully sit in rows in the neatly laid bed sheets folded in 4 flat rolls. Post dinner, often the same terrace was our bedroom despite having about 15 rooms in that building. Dad would show us stars and constellation while we cuddled together on the hand-woven webbing cot. Sometimes we were lucky to catch a good minute long glimpse of a twinkling airplane cutting through all the studded sky. Terrace was our home and the home was our terrace.