I feel a nip in the air today. Suddenly the breeze is cool in Mumbai and I want to reach out to a shawl, want some warm tea, a soft quilt and my favourite series on Netflix. These winter evenings are beautiful and so nostalgic.
Mumbai, as most of you know does not really experience winters. When I moved here, all my warm clothes stayed back in Kolkata. I now realize along with those warm clothes, I left behind dozens of memories. Memories of those winter evenings with my mother and grandmother. Memories of winter holidays spent teasing my little brother. Oh those were the days!
We would wrap up our homework early so that Dida (maternal grandmother) could tuck my brother and me under the thick blanket (we did not have quilts then) and hand us over one nolen gurer sondesh, each. Nolen gur is date palm jaggery. It is very famous in Kolkata and available mostly during winters. She knew this was our weakness so homework had to be done. The taste of it is still so fresh. I wonder if it was the sweet or the person who would give it to us has kept this memory alive.
There was no Netflix but we had some scary ghost stories that Dida would very animatedly tell us. Some stories were from her childhood and some from mom’s. We did not want those sessions to end. Mom would come in late from work. But most of the days she would bring with her a roll or chowmein (Kolkata’s world famous noodles) or my favourite momo’s from Hamro momo. We would then sit together and relish those yummy delicacies over a good laugh and fun chats. If mom wasn’t too tired from work, she would read out stories till we slept off. The house felt full even if it just had four members.
Winter afternoons were all about soaking the sun. After a short nap post school, Dida would take us out to the park. My brother and I would walk past toy stores and stare at them hoping Dida would see and buy it for us. But she would never encourage. So park it was. The sun on our face, happiness of being in the open air is all that we needed back then. No sun tan problems. No worry about the hair being messed up. It was pure, unadulterated happiness.
I don’t have her with me anymore. And somewhere I am losing those memories. It is fading away as I keep growing up. Life is so fast here that I cannot stop and enjoy that nolen gurer sondesh or remember those stories from her childhood. Sometimes all that I miss is holding onto what I had.
My love story with winters started with my grandmother and I guess it ended with her. I no longer look out for those evenings or afternoons. But there are times when I see the sun set on a winter evening and few memories “sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.” But I end it with a smile. Because, aren’t love stories beautiful?