It was a nice house.
Softspoken, and clingy in some ways, but nice, if you know what I mean.
It was ancient too. The cracks showed. And so did the soft moss which grew at an alarming rate.
Previously, the front part consisted of one huge room which had wooden sofas and an old divan and arched windows, with green , wooden windowpanes. And an old, noisy refrigerator which was perennially grumpy. It had a television set too, which dutifully aired Mahabharata and Chitrahar every Sunday and Wednesday respectively. (But then of course, times, they changed and so did the TV. And now, every night, it beams coloured pictures and spins stories about the extra-marital affairs of ridiculously rich women.) The huge room had an adjoining chhotoghor which held old, rusty complan tins full of marbles, and one half of a broken carom board. And of course the mandatory, very old alna, with soft and reassuring housecoats and sarees and cotton shirts smelling of rin detergent bars. The verandah infront of the old house had a pillar painted blue. And then 3 steps. Down and straight if you wanted to get to the rannaghor, which was huge. With oil stained yellow walls, cement sinks and rows of jars full of ghorey pesha gorom moshla, 2 gas ovens, and an all-pervading smell of tej pata.
Down the 3 steps and left, and you came to the garden. Shiuli and joba. And mango and guava, batabi lebu, neem and coconut trees.
Down 3 steps and right, and there was the uthon. And the rooms surrounding it. Old rooms with kulungis and high four-posters and cool red cement floors which were heavenly and addictive on hot summer afternoons. The uthon though, was nicest during the winter. The sunlight which managed to strain in through the thick, double layers of mango and neem leaves was pleasantly hot and exactly the colour of melted butter. And you could get yourself a madur and a pillow, a Ruskin Bond and a small, paper packet of achaar and create your own little piece of heaven. The iron, spiral staircase at one end of the uthon was forbidden land till you attained a certain age. After that you could cling on to the railings and get to the chhat, which was silent and frightening and almost white with pigeon droppings or green with kancha aam, depending on the season.
The old rooms downstairs, had corridors too. Old corridors - my favouritest part of the whispering house. High ceilings, grills and chiks, and iron and wooden book cases. It was heavenly if you didn’t fear the occasional spider and the even more rare rat or two. Newspaper wrapped, crumbly, yellowed treasures were routinely discovered. 'Mohabharoter Golpo', and a hard bound, cloth covered Bengali translation of a Russian story called ‘Chuk ar Gek’, ‘Five have a Mystery to solve’ and ‘Leela Majumderer Sreshtho Golpo’, ‘Vivekanander Vedanta Chinta’, ‘Byakoron Koumudi’ and the complete annotated ‘Merchant of Venice’ (year of publication:1938) were all unearthed here once upon a time.
I will be moving away soon. To a flat, with snazzy lighting, snazzier furniture, French windows and a room of my own. The flat doesn’t whisper. Nor does it sigh when it’s sad. It is healthy, with no rats, no spiders and no random plump cat taking a nap on the panchil.
It is a nice flat. I like it.
It was a nicer house. I loved it.