Memories of my childhood are rather vague. They come in flashes. Nothing is vivid and transparent. We lived in a Hindu joint family with cousins and father’s cousins in two sections of the big ancestral house. Total number of members might be more than fifty.
Sometimes the ceiling of the room coming down to my supine body in bed while I was counting the joists and rafters becomes vaguely living but the why of it is not known like many other things. These are the beginning of my memories, of ages much before the teens. From the teens such memories come with greater detail. But I am speaking of times before it when I was an infant or a child.
A scene comes out of them to my mind from time to time: I am walking on the third floor roof of our ancestral house alone, thinking myself a part of the cop with usual uniform, khaki half pant and a baton in hand, walking and marching under a half moon in the sky. My family members knew of my nature, knew that I was a somnambulist. It was a dinner time- might be 9 or 9.30 in the late evening- when all other boys and girls, numbering to 10 or 12, would sit round one of our eldest cousin sisters who would make ball of rice and curry and feed each one in turn. Some of my elders would search everywhere and finally reaching the roof would see me alone walking, oblivious of my surrounding. She would scold me and drag me down through the stairs and almost throw me by a push among the boys and girls gathered. When thus pushed, I would realize my surroundings. Yes, I was with them. The whimpering stopped. I would relish the food willy-nilly as it was thrust in my mouth which would somehow come down to my stomach through the gullet, ending perhaps one link of life to the unknown past.
© Aju Mukhopadhyay, 2010