It happened last Saturday when the day hadn’t started yet. I mean the early morning fog caressing my windowpane and the modest room heater placed below my bed synergized to mummify me under my cosy blanket. I kept peeping at my mobile display every ten minutes right from half past six when the first alarm had rang but didn’t feel man enough to come out of my comfy zone and electrify my face with a chilled splash. Once I regain wakefulness I can only pretend to sleep like a cat and a slightest stimulation like the off and on noise of refrigerator thermostat can potently scratch my eardrum. At that critical moment the mobile ring pulled me up by my ear. My ex girlfriend was on the other end of the phone and she wanted to pick me up by eight to accompany her to the psychotherapist. Oh shit… by mistake I’ve dragged in another topic which is way long for my patience to narrate. But, as the two extremely fishy words- ‘ex girlfriend’ and ‘psychotherapist’ have dropped in, I better disappoint you with little more information.
June is getting married in another two weeks for which she is totally stressed out. A couple of days back in my birthday evening when she decided to relive her pre marital tension with a fistful of sedative pills stealing right from my desk I had successfully convinced her to open up a bit before some counselor which might sort out or at least lessen her bulk of fragmented thoughts. I had even contacted one of my psychologist friends in that odd hour of night under the courtesy of stomach full of beer and fixed the Saturday morning appointment for June. Little did I know that late night friendly gesture would hammer so hard on my Saturday morning slumber! Well, I guess by now, either you’re more confused than before or you’ve made a sharper off beam impression of my ongoing life. It’s ok… it doesn’t bother me much as that novel writing wishlist is somewhere lying comatose in my backup plan since three years after we had an unmelodious break up.
“Hey I couldn’t sleep the whole night… got fever at midnight and now again it’s somewhat high… June I’m sorry… can you please…?” I hatched a compelling excuse to evade the rude winter morning air of Kathmandu valley. She couldn’t insist after that… no one can in such situation. So she hung up the phone after some words of concern. The moment I tried to put my phone in silent mode it crowed again but the number on the screen pacified my budding irritation. It was an ISD call from my father’s number.
“Good morning Doctorsaab” I gathered as much vitality in voice as I could. This is the same way I’ve been addressing him over phone since my university days.
“Morning my son, but is it morning yet for you?” he smelled his son’s lazy puppy state from thousand miles away.
“Yea just now…”
But before I sat up actually on my bed he enthusiastically continued, “You know where we’re now? We’re at Khejurdighi… and Bonnie is sipping date juice!”
Bonnie is my three years old niece. Khejurdighi is a place in the outskirt of my hometown popular for widespread date palm plantations around a big horse shoe shaped lake. In winter morning one can go early to catch hold of some local tree climber and purchase the sweet sap tapped overnight from the date palm. Only lucky ones who have sipped that magical potion so called fresh date juice know what it really is!
“Oh great… come on Baba transfer the phone to my princess” the current of nostalgia blended with the charm of my little fairy had aroused me out of my cover like a soldier on call.
After several minutes of conversation we ended the call. If it was anyone other than my Bonnie I would have surely been a green eyed monster to that bee. I went to the washbasin with a bulge of toothpaste on my brush. I kept moving the toothbrush mechanically inside my lips while staring vacantly on the mirror. I was getting drifted away from my present life, slowly getting oblivious of possible emergency calls from hospital, even oblivious of what to do next, like a programmed toy I dived into the ‘Wonderland’ of time…
Ma woke me up and put the ugly monkey cap before I could jump down the divan. She screamed from back “Bablu who’ll wear these slippers? Stop… you won’t go to washroom without them”. It’s difficult to put on slippers with your socks on but I’m a good boy, so I listen to whatever Ma says. I took my small toothbrush and initiated half chewing and half spitting of the lip-smacking paste. Then a short potty time, followed by awful sugar stirred fresh milk with glucose biscuits. I don’t like this either, I love chocolate cream biscuits… but who listens to me? Just then Baba came up with his cup of tea and asked me with a smile “Bablu what about some date juice?”
I sprang up from the chair but Ma caught hold of my arm from back and told “Dear wait a minute till I cover you with another pullover… and you must put on shoes.”
I’ve ample liberty at few things in which my parents never interfere… like chasing the squirrels in our garden, making clay dolls with the aunty who works in our house, feeding leaf juices to my prisoner dragonflies, some vain effort of climbing our guava or mango trees etc… and proposing Baba for a scooter ride in a winter morning to get fresh date juice is indeed one of them.
Within ten minutes we both were out of home… I usually stand on the footboard of our blue scooter because I can’t even think of staying hidden behind the big man and miss all notable activities on the way. I enjoy the morning mist cocooning the shivering town… streets are almost empty at this hour, so there’s none to embarrass me with a gaze at my monkey-cap clad face! The buzzing scooter seems more relieved like me as soon as it leaves the black metal road and touches the red pebbly soil… the sound of the tyres also change and the black exhaust gets masked by the furious red dust chasing our scooter. Bald trees on two sides look somewhat wet and displeased for our uninvited visit into their peaceful territory. One or two old ugly looking bicycles went fast behind our speeding Chetak and I turned my neck with a winner’s attitude but found only fully wrapped indifferent wrinkled faces at our back. After crossing some mud and asbestos huts, a potter’s colony we reached Khejurdighi and our scooter stopped before a familiar low thatched roof bamboo house. I knew the entire episode going to be played after that, so, happily I went behind one of the numerous date palm tress to pee in privacy. My father called out “Sukumar are you there boy?”
Sukumar, the familiar young bronze skinned lanky young boy came out from the hut with a half closed eyes and a smile on his season dried face.
In no time Sukumar climbed up a date tree where an earthen vessel full of date juice was waiting for us as eagerly as those swiveling butterflies in my stomach. He handed over the pot to us gladly went inside his den again with the money Baba gave him. We always bring two clean glass tumblers from our home to inaugurate the consumption of the spanking fresh extract. Baba usually pours the juice into those tumblers keeping them on the rare seat of the scooter while I jump around a tree and mimic the perfect climbing technique of Sukumar.
He called me “Son, here’s your glass… hurry up or I’ll finish it.”
I ran desperately to save my turn of enjoying one of the best drinks known to me. He usually narrates me some of his short childhood stories while nipping the last drop of the syrup. I find them hundred times more fascinating than those boring pages of Aesop’s fables. I sense some attachment towards our village house and relatives living there.
After finishing our share my father kick started our scooter and this time I sat as a pillion to hold the semi filled vessel. Whenever I seat in the backseat clutching the pot of juice a sense of responsibility runs down my spine… I embrace it with stronger arms because it contains the ration for my Ma and Dada (elder brother) waiting at the home. I wanted to say something to my father but the whistling breeze coming from the front crumpled my words into a whisper and it couldn’t reach my Baba’s ears… I felt numbness in my hands… the vessel seemed to be slipping away from my desperate attempt to clasp it… the rattle of our scooter faded like a still wind chime… there was no more struggle with the cold wind… where’s my father? What I could see now was a blankly staring man with a burgundy goatee! The flowing water from the tap made me realize my real age and recognize my image on the mirror…
I gave a call to my Baba and told him every details of my flashback and both of us felt the condensed moisture in our eyes. I didn’t want to stay any longer encaged in the flat, so came out with a jacket and the car key. The morning seemed unusually gusty… I wished I had a monkey-cap! I didn’t have any call to attend; neither anything to buy nor anybody to meet… just I was tattooed with a ‘feel good’ melancholy… wet with the recent recollection I wanted to lie in the cradle of nature which was near impossible to achieve in Kathmandu, so I steered to Kakani. The Himalayan ranges spreading their arms on both the sides like a living Colossus granted me the perfect cot I was looking for… I played the extraordinary vista of peppy reminiscence again and again under my dream seeking closed eyes… very soon I could spot back our old blue scooter somewhere around Khejurdighi, looking bright under the early golden rays of morning sun and a clay pot filled with fresh date juice kept carefully over its rear seat. Oh my God… I was a kindergarten child once more! Huh who cares for Ma or Dada, I took out a giant tumbler to take the whole juice all alone… I was in genuine rush… I really didn’t want to miss a single drop of it.
I’m blogging about my #MagicOfWarmth moment at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed Hot Oil