Today, I am attempting to write about a place where I grew up a child. This post is not about a person, but about a place that has given me so many wonderful memories. They say you never know what you had until you lose it, and that's exactly what happened to me. When we finally waved goodbye to our old almost empty house in North Calcutta, we knew that we were leaving behind a part of us in every corner of that house. The balcony where we spent so many evenings waiting for the ice-cream cart, the terrace where we spent our afternoons dressing up kittens, the small semi-terrace where we hid while playing hide and seek and the stairways where we jumped from just to create a small scene, and the stair-wells where we planned our childish master-plans.
When you grow up with a house full of kids your age and three floors to run and jump around you tend to have an unparalleled experience we call 'Childhood'. There is something special about the houses in North Calcutta- I will try to break it down for the layman- The houses are actually so close that you can jump from one roof top to another and that my friends is adventure at its best. I remember the time when we found a hidden roof at the back of the house which had no side-walls and we knew we would get into a lot of trouble if we attempted jumping on it from our roof, but we did it anyway. The pure fun and excitement of standing on a roof with no boundaries is ecstasy for ten year olds.
We had our signals too- when parents were fast asleep after lunch, we would wait for our signals to come out of our rooms and go cat hunting! We'd bring by any and every kitten we could find and play 'dress up the kittens' on the roof, and of course there was the much coveted 'lock and key' which till date remains my top favorite game to play!
The best part about the house was the fact that there were so many places a child can hide- playing hide and seek used to be our forte! Every time any of us would discover a new hiding place we'd be ecstatic, by the end of it we were pros at it!
Knowing that the generation after us will never get a chance to be raised in such an environment makes me realize the opportunity we had. The time we were truly kids, not trapped into an apartment playing board games or watching TV. We would go out and play and have fun- the house gave us our childhood-it gave us our freedom and let us behave as kids should behave; it gave us something to remember and smile about after 20 years!
When I still think about the afternoons spent with my cousins on the roof trying to figure out the best strategy to jump on to the next roof, or sneak upstairs to get a taste of Grandma's pickles, it brings back a smile on my face, and it will continue to be that way for the rest of my life.
The house means something to each of us, each part of this house brings back memories to each one- to my father, it brings back memories of his childhood escapades, to my mother it brings back memories of early married life, to my cousin sister- the balcony brings her back to finding the love of her life, where she stood waiting for him every night, to me and my first cousin it brings back random fights and weird dance moves on the big corridor- where we sang our non-sense and danced around irritating others while at it!
Letting it go was one of the hardest things to do for our family, moving on was harder. But now that every one is in different parts of the city/country/world- I am sure we all go back to that one common memory that will continue to bind us together for life!