I was the quietest of children. My mom tells me that for the first three months after I was born, our neighbours in London could not feel my presence. I was born in London, but I spent most of my childhood in the United States — Cambridge in Massachusetts and then Rhode Island.
I didn’t have a playmate at home during the early part of my childhood. That problem was solved when my sister Jhelum — she is seven years younger than me — was born.
All through the year, I would wait for my holidays because it meant that we would be coming home to Calcutta.
There were so many cousins and friends to play with. Besides, the elders in the family would pamper me like crazy. Every time we came down, we would stay for three months or more. In many ways, it was the best time of my life. I still remember everybody from that time very vividly.
My didun (maternal grandmother) used to spend all her time with me. She used to bathe me in cold water and would also let me play in the water for a long time. She would call me names like Lilia, Fuleswari or Mayurakshi. A favourite game used to be what I called “Kapolay dol dol”. Actually I should have called it “Kapoday (clothes) dol dol” but couldn’t pronounce it properly then.
I would ask my uncles to give me a “Kapolay dol dol” which was a kind of swing made with a bed sheet. Three of them would sway it gently pulling the corners, while I sat in the middle and enjoyed myself. A few of my cousins would call me Mithaimoni and my sister Tutaimoni.
I used to be and still am fond of Bengali food. I love luchi, alu dum, sukto and sweets like rabri and misti doi. Some of these we do not get or cannot prepare at home in the United States. I also love Indian music, both vocal and instrumental. My mother tells me that there was this tune from a famous Hindi song which I was obsessed with.
Whenever I heard it, tears would roll down my cheeks. I loved to play the flute and, while in high school, I played the brass flute. I love Calcutta and everyone here loves me. Dear kids, I wish you all the best. Bhalo theko.