Recalling memories of her girlhood, the writer describes the unrequited passion of one of her cranky suitors
Many an admirer — some strangers, some of them familiar — has been associated with my life. These people entered my life when I was a little grown up, no more just a child. Most of these memories are from the days in Guwahati, when I was in high school (T.C. Higher Secondary School). After that, I joined Cotton College.
In high school, I was a keen participant in Scouts and Guides programmes. I still remember how I rung the bell to bring out students from their classrooms to show our solidarity with the liberation of Goa when I was the union secretary at the T.C. Girls High School.
We were very fond of the jamborees for the young Scouts and Guides. Once, when I was a student of Pine Mount School, we did a programme in Shillong for the then governor of Assam, Jairam Das Daulatram. In those days, Shillong used to be the capital of Assam. The governor was very impressed with our performance and even dressed his daughter in a Girl Guide uniform and made her stand along with the troop of Guides that performed at his place!
From T.C. School, we were taken to many Scout and Guide camps on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra (the other bank across the city of Guwahati). We were greatly thrilled to have those camps in forest areas. The late Rameshwar Kalita used to lead us during those trips. He was very popular at that time. Many respected citizens from Guwahati, such as Dandeswar Gogoi and Hirenya Bhuyan, would come to visit the camps. The camps gave us basic training in being self-reliant in our everyday lives.
One of the jamborees took place in Jaipur. We represented T.C. School in the jamboree. But I also met some of my old friends from Shillong (Pine Mount School) as well as Mrs Neal, the headmistress of Pine Mount School in the jamboree. Our troop was led by Rameswar Kalita. It felt great to meet my old friends once again. What was amazing was that our meeting took place in faraway Jaipur, when Guwahati and Shillong are so close by!
In the jamboree, I once met a Bengali middle-aged man. To be precise, I met him at Jaipur station. He was in good health despite his age. To my surprise, I saw him also at the jamboree. But we were busy having fun, so I hardly got time to take note of him. He would hang around the places that I would generally visit. He requested me to give him my address. We had given our addresses to many people.
Once the jamboree was over, we left Jaipur, and the Bengali man, too, disappeared from my memory. It took us a few days to reach Guwahati from Jaipur. But by the time I reached home, a new surprise awaited me; mother handed me a thick bunch of letters — from Jaipur.
The letters were from that Bengali man I had met at the railway station. And the letters had reached my home even before I had reached there.
All the letters sent to me were in Bengali and addressed me as Mamoni, my Ma (it could mean my daughter or my beloved, I never knew what he meant). Over the days, the succession of letters reaching me accelerated and very soon, I had no place on my table to keep the letters. People in the family, too, became concerned over the matter… a stranger writing so many letters to me and with such regularity! This happened despite the fact that I never replied to any of his letters.
Finally, one of my friends found a way out. In reply to one of the fresh letters that had come from him, he wrote, “Mamoni is no more alive. She’s dead.” Those letters stopped and have never come till now.
But the incident probably hurt my mother more than myself. My sister Sabita and brother Satyabrata remember the incident far more vividly than I do.
To be concluded