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  • Writer's pictureSruti Mohapatra

Our Forever Evenings.

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Listening to tales from days gone by

Which Bawa dramatized with his distinctive touch

Relishing Ma’s finest delicacies

Merrily grew the Mohapatra bunch

Lying underneath the twinkling sky

Enwrapped in the warmth of shared happiness

Listening to Tiki-Mama’s enthralling tunes

We learnt lessons in love, living and togetherness.

A string of reminiscences that has made living momentous. My best recollection of my growing up years is our evening rendezvous. Often underneath a starlit and very rarely a starless sky. Joy, laughter, love cascading from one another, the gentle swaying of the trees around and the cool gusts from the Bay of Bengal, growing up was an experience. Whether unit VI, IX, Old Town or Sunflower only the place changed. The underlying theme remained the same, love and togetherness. My initiation to evening prayers, returning home soonest the street lights were on and being a role model for younger sibs all started here.

Rummaging through memories I find a beautiful Tiki, a impish Mama, a obedient Raju, a ideal bawa and a ever indulgent bou.

And a angelic Munni who joined us late. I also come face to face with discipline, laughter – lots of it, a bunch of energetic sibs, adorable parents and a bit of anger, embarrassment and tears.

In Unit VI it was mostly bawa telling us stories. ‘Erik -oooooooooooooooooo’, even Munni can narrate word by word, with tear streaming from her eyes. It was always the last two horses and Erik’s readiness to jump coupled with bawa’s hyena cry, which made us shout in unison ‘Bawa stop’. And it took some time for both of them to cheer up the sad faces and wipe out the shimmering tears. Bawa was a master storyteller. Myriads of characters came to life every evening, taking us to far away lands, fantasies and enriching us in many ways. But bawa’s sense of discipline saw to it that homework was done and we got up in time for dinner. Granny’s presence, she always spent a few months with us, was an added bonus. Then our flights of imagination ventured high up into the ecstasies of the heaven and also into the dark dungeons of hell. Mythology, ghosts, gods and goddesses we learnt it all. 

We met a elegant Sita, a heroic Ram, a crying Kaushalya, and a egoistical Ravana not to forget the valiant Pandavas, mischievous Krishna, and arrogant Duryodhana in each of those special evenings.

In Old Town, Unit IX, Sunflower it was family singing, antakshari, more stories and word power! We all listened to Tiki and Mama singing their first notes, their beginning ‘alaaps’, and their mastered ghazals. Bawa softly drumming with his fingers, mama joining too. 

My sisters are the best, dad’s pride, Mohapatra pride, anytime, anywhere. We often sang together. Trilled the same song in different pitches. Rarely bou too hummed. One such memory is bawa suddenly remarking ‘Raju you have a good voice. The Sehgal style but rich’. And the rising crimson in Raju’s face was frankly visible even in the darkness surrounding us. A word of appreciation from bawa was the greatest honor for us. He was our yardstick of achievement! If music was their show, word game was ours. Raj and I, Tiki too, emerged champions always.

We started with one word. The next person had to make a word with the last letter. The trick was to end words with either ‘e’ or ‘t’. As we grew up so did our vocabulary but the spirit of the game remained the same. Try to be the winner always. Losing was never fun but definitely an incentive for ‘one more round’.

Raju’s gold in math Olympiad and my literary championship generated the same deal of appreciation as Munnu’s first words, Mama’s fine etchings and Tiki’s ‘riyaz’. We were allowed to criticize each other freely but without malice. If I stood first but did a rather damp presentation, the winning had no meaning. If Mama did not win but her work of art ‘classic’, it called for a round of applause. Laughter, critique, grunts, raised voices, commotion, and even soft sobs they all made up our evenings.

Bou usually joined us late. Unlike us she had no fixed hours. Patients called anytime. For us the evening brought remembrances, recollections of our day’s activities, complaints to bawa, request for money and several other such small things. It was our time to speak, to be silent or just lie down in peace. It was also a time to learn. No raised voice to elders, even if sib was a year and half older, first candy always to the youngest, irrespective of it being your moment, help mummy, remember the dead, caress past moments of pride, be proud of your culture, respect values. We learnt it all. Most importantly to be one close knit family.

In life, there are moments of pure, eternal beauty that shine in memory from then on, taking on a life of their own, with the same power to awe and inspire, many years later, that they had at that first moment. Our rendezvous was this. Years later when I started preparing for a career I discovered a lot of learning came from these starlit evenings.

We lived in a ‘high’ always

A life carefree and simple, with no muck

I know life will never be the same again

I wish I was 4, 5, 6…………………20 again.


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