Diamond Harbour. An interlude by Rekha Karmakar

Diamond Harbour revisited -Part-II

Second part of mom's Diamond Harbour story where she returns to her childhood holiday spot of Diamond Harbour for the first time as an adult. This time with two little sons of her own  - KK

Life took its own course and I too got busy with other pre-occupations while the memories of Diamond Harbour lay somewhere deep in my mind.

Twenty five long years passed after this. One day I saw the name of Diamond Harbour on the notice board of the college, where I had been working at that time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the WBCUTA (West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association) was going to hold its annual conference at Fakir Chand Diamond Harbour College that year. I did not even think twice and paid the requisite fees for delegation without any delay.

On the designated day, I went to Jadavpur station, putting my two school-going sons under my arms and embarked on a Diamond Harbour local train which took approximately two hours to reach.

My heart started throbbing in excitement as we took a cycle rickshaw from Diamond Harbour station to reach Fakir Chand Diamond Harbour College, the venue of the conference.

After a while, we reached the college where there used to be a paddy field years ago. The conference was as grand as ever with people coming from all over West Bengal to attend it.

I bought two lunch coupons for my sons and had afternoon meals. They served us with rice, dal, fried potato chips, mutton curry and a very delicious illish/ hilsa fish curry in mustard sauce as Diamond Harbour is very reputed for its hilsa fish.
After our meal, we did not stay any longer and went out of the college in search of our root. I remembered that out house was quite near the college so I proceeded with my sons, on foot, to look for the house.

On our way, we came across a huge bungalow surrounded by flower plants on all sides and instantly remembered that I used to go there quite often with my grandmother as the lady of the house was her friend. My grandmother’s friend used to be very happy whenever my grandma took us to her house as both her sons stayed away at Calcutta. She treated us very warmly with sweets and ‘serbat’/cold drink. My grandma, though financially much poorer than her friend, considered herself richer because of her bunch of nine children and a hoard of grandchildren, whom she always wanted to safeguard against any evil eye.

As the story goes, when my grandma did not conceive even at the age of thirteen, my grandfather’s father got so worried that he went all the way to Tarakeswar, a place in West Bengal and offered a ‘bel pata’ made of pure gold to Lord Shiva to ask for his blessings (a ‘bel pata’ is the leaf of a big tree that produce ‘bel’ fruits). Lord Shiva was so pleased with the offering that he blessed my grandma with not one or two but a whole lot of nine children.

After passing by the bungalow of my grandma’s friend, we walked further for a while. Then from far I could see our corner house and my heart leapt up in joy. I walked hurriedly and reached the house.

In a few minutes, I was standing in front of the gate, where my grandfather used to wait for us! The name ‘kiran kutir’ was still visible on the marble plank of the gate as the house was named after my grandmother’s name ‘Kiran Bala’

I was very pleased to find that the red coloured two storeyed house as well as the white ground floor flats were still intact though a bit shabby. Not only that, the date tree was also in a reclining position over the pond.

As we stood there, a man came up to us and asked us why we were standing there. On knowing the reason, he asked us to come in. When we went in, all the past memories came back to me in a flashback - my grandparents, my uncles, my aunts. I felt a bit saddened as the past memories always make one so. I showed the house, the pond and my favourite haunts to my sons, who too watched everything with interest and curiosity.

I had a last look at the house and then proceeded towards the canal. We crossed the ‘lal pol’/the red bridge over the canal in a cycle rickshaw and started heading for the riverfront. The main thoroughfare was still strewn with fragrant white ‘bakul’ flowers.

It was late afternoon when we reached the river bank. The river was as wide as ever, looking almost like a sea. The cool breeze soothed us while the setting sun illuminated the waves as before. Nothing had changed since I had seen it last. The only exception was that the banks were paved and the newly built lodge ‘Sagarika’ stood by its side.
Since it was a winter day, I thought it prudent to leave for Calcutta though the children were in no mood to leave as there were enjoying themselves thoroughly.
We boarded a Sealdah bound local train and bade adieu to Diamond Harbour not knowing if we would ever come back again.

Next day when I told my father about over Diamond Harbour expedition, he was very excited. I tried to answer all his queries as patiently as I could, appreciating fully his curiosity and interest for his birth place.