Saturday, January 09, 2016

My Mashi's Guitar

It was all forgotten! For year we did not remember that she ever possessed one. But one fine day, I saw a post on facebook which reminded me vaguely that my mashi, who passed away a year and a half ago had a guitar she loved to play.

She was a Physicist with a musical mind, my youngest mashi (my mother’s youngest sister) and while she was studying in Kolkata, she had acquired a guitar and often played on it, I remember, when I was little.

I remember clearly now that when she came to Shillong where I lived in my childhood, she carried an additional case with her, inside which was her guitar. She would sit on a stool and place the guitar on her lap and strum away at it, while I watched fully engrossed in it. The first sound of music played to my ear was stored in my brain.
Then for many decades everyone including my aunt forgot all about it. When I saw that picture on facebook, suddenly, as if from the past, the memory of the guitar came back to me. Since my mashi was no longer alive, I asked her son, where that guitar was which belonged to his mother.

“No,” he said, “as far as I know, she never spoke of guitars and she never said that she ever played one.”

Something hit me hard.

In the scurry for Degrees, Service, Jobs and marriages, we tend to put away much of ourselves away, as we travel along in life and never re-visit that past, which at one time was so dear to us. Not only that, as we forget parts of ourselves which are what we chose for ourselves at one time, others around us forget about it too. Displacing needs of the past with needs of the present is what seems most natural to many of us.

Until, the revival of that memory becomes a life and death situation.

After my brother’s response, I called my elder sister in Kolkata.

“Did you want that guitar? It was with me all these years, almost 50 years, but only a few days ago, I gave it to the watchman.”

I was aghast! A wild search began to get the guitar back and fortunately, miracles of all miracles, we were able to retrieve it back.

I don’t want to ever forget that part of my life, when, as a child I never wanted my mashi to go away to Kolkata in between. I resented it very much and would cry and howl when I knew she would be gone again for a long period of time. I longed for her to return to me and play her guitar.

She had a little trick for me in those days, which she used as an incentive to engage my mind in other activities till she returned to Shillong. It was learning by heart one or two poems from Rabindranath Tagore’s book of poems called Sanchaita, which I did very diligently, so that I could recite the poems by heart, when she returned from Kolkata. I didn’t know the long absences were because she was studying in Presidency College, Kolkata, then.

And I wonder if she knew then, that I would in her absence, remember the guitar, she too had forgotten in her lifetime.

The soul which struggled so much for a month, while the search for the guitar was on, has now found rest, as the guitar lies on my bed, in my home in Kolkata, waiting for me to carry her on my lap and play her strings, just like Chotomoni used to do, when I was a child.

I can never forget or ever put away from my memory that part of myself, which is my Chotomoni. 

Photo Credit Here

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