After spending your entire life wondering how to get out of one place you land up having a picture perfect memory of that space. I lived for 30 years in a 5 floored building in the upscale locality of Calcutta called Alipore.
In its heydays, the building had a well maintained front lawn with a mango tree, some white flowered tree, some hibiscus trees and the works. Not to mention the dahlias which grew their every season.
We had space to play. A centre courtyard which was a badminton court which doubled up as a cricket pitch. The foyer opposite to the lawn was spacious enough for us to skate and even hold all our birthday parties. The car park in front of the lawn and in between the foyer was always enough for our overflowing guests.
Slowly, the community hall turned into a large gowdown to store files of a recently closed factory. A generator wound up on our car park and made its permanent spot there. An era of naaras (slogan shouting) began in protest of the factory owners. The lawn withered away, the trees were cut and in its space came two large hoardings. The serene sensibility of an residential apartment was broken by an equally broke steel factory owner.
I often had dreams of the childhood games we played of treasure hunts and the large looming peepal tree with its so called ghosts. I often dreamt about how I would escape from my room and jump from one parapet to the other and then on to the main road. From my room on the 4th floor I often stared below at the moving traffic. My room had two walls and the other two were windows. We didn’t have grills on them. I think that’s what gave wings to my fantasy.
However (in my dreams), after a certain distance on the road I would always get caught and find myself back in my room. And I always wondered whether I really wanted to escape or no. As I grew older I became more and more restless, the dreams were now a recurring fact bordering on reality. I couldn’t wait to take flight. On one hand.
On the other, I was becoming more and more complacent. I grew to like my cage. I thought I would have no reason to be angry or rebel then. Or was it the comfort of some place known. However, in my last few days of staying I didn’t feel any sense of belonging or longing of wanting to be there.
Now when I go back, I miss the materialistic things. The firm bed, the moulded pillow, the large empty bed, the possibility of falling of to sleep with a book. I miss the space for the comfort it gave me. Its like a lotus in a dirt pond.