Thursday, January 10, 2008

Just a Table

When my grandparents sold their house to the builder and got a new flat on one floor, they also earned a decent sum of money along with it. This they invested, other than in the all-important task of indulging their angelic grandchildren (ahem!), in some excellent furniture. Of all those things, I remember best the dining-table.

A solid, wooden affair with a natural wood finish on the surface. Reliable and sturdy, it took the weight of the 4 dining chairs my finicky Dida loaded on it each day so that the maid could make a clean sweep below the table. Wherever I may eat, that is one table I will never forget. Other than the conventional role of a surface to eat off of, it served as my study table. Many are the times I have dozed while studying at that table. I would settle comfortably in one chair and rest my long legs on the chair across. Everyone knew that I used 2 chairs, even at lunch time. Since it was just she and I, and then my brother too, we had a chair going spare and I put it to good use!

On dull evenings, it doubled as a makeshift TT table. My brother and I would roll up a bedcover and place it as the net and play a boisterous game of TT, fielding the ball from under bookshelves, the toilet, the balcony, and from under the folds of a long-suffering Dida's saree.

I used to take pride in being the one to clean and polish up the dining table, soaping and gently scrubbing, then turning on the fan to dry the surface and resting my cheek against its squeaky clean, smooth surface.

That table hosted many huge dinner parties, birthday meals prepared with love and care, family reunion meals where maangsho (mutton curry), aloo-posto, tomato chutney and various other family favourites held pride of place. It was covered with plates bearing crisp motorshuti kochuri along with my 18th birthday cake. It was the site for the feast on my father's 50th birthday. It was the stage on which Dida presented her love for us all.

When she could no longer live on her own, she moved in with my parents, who were by now back in India. And so the 4-seater table was now where 6 people ate. My parents, my newly-widowed paternal grandma, and my Dida. Odd chairs and stools and occasionally even cartons served as the two extra chairs, but we all ate, elbow to poky elbow, at the same table.

Eventually my parents moved from a government house to their own 'dream-house'. I married and moved away, and the table's biggest supporter was gone. A practical lady, Dida recommended a new table. A new dining table was commissioned. Dida's dining table now lies in the store-room, a tablet to memories and happy meals shared by all of us.

I suppose it is silly to be so sentimental. Maybe life is too short to get attached to things. But we're only human. And we have memories for a reason. So that the past can be special and give us things to think about and smile over. I know I can make a story out of anything and find reasons to be sentimental about it. That's just how I am. As I said in my last post, it's time to move again. In May last year, I had written about how I hate moving around and want to stay put in one place, but that is, sadly, not to be. Oh, I know people who will always live in the same place envy me. But it's the grass-is-greener syndrome.

Anyhow, so it's time to say good-bye again. To some people, to a lot of places. And to sell off some possessions. And Eve's Lungs left me a comment saying it breaks her heart to sell things that she has used. That got me thinking about things that I have been terribly attached to and I decided to write about the table.

I tag Eve's Lungs, Orange Jammies, Sbora, Dipali and Diligent Candy to write about one material thing that holds many, many memories for them.

13 comments:

Sue said...

I'm sick of feeling this way about my stuff. When I got married I was forced to accept that nobody apart from my parents would give my junk the same importance, not even V, and so I started throwing things away. There is still plenty to dispose of, but at least I'm better at it now.

dipali said...

Such a beautiful post. Your love for your grandparents, and especially your Dida, shines through.
'It was the stage on which Dida presented her love for us all.'
Such a beautiful line, Anamika, among
so many more.
I'm trying to think of what material object I'm particularly attached to.
Got it!

sbora said...

A lovely post.

And thanks for tagging me. You really got me thinking girl!

S

Anamika said...

Sue: Tell me about it. I try not to hoard, but all the same I now have two deep drawers FULL of stuff such as birthday cards, travel tickets, museum entrance tickets, wrapping paper, scribbled-on restaurant napkins...

Dipali: Thanks. Waiting for your post!

Sbora: And you are the first to do the tag!! Thanks :)

Melanie said...

Anna,

That was a beautiful post. I remember only too well the birthday parties and the aloo posto!!!

sbora said...

Thanks for blogrolling me I feel honored!

Good luck with that move!

S

Diligent Candy said...

:) shall do it ....thankings!

Love the post.

Anamika said...

Melly!! Thanks for leaving a comment! And do drop by more often! Remeber how you forgot to pray in your hurry to start eating once?


Sbora: No need to feel honoured :) I like checking out your blog - it's as simple as that!


Candy: If you do a good post I shall adopt CC.

aunty g said...

Oh, what a wonderful table-tale || With fond memories you did regale || So, your legs are long || Bless Dida -- she's strong || By-the-way, how goes your sale?

the mad momma said...

Melly forgot to pray?! My God... this is a tale I shall tell her kids :)

Anamika said...

Aunty G: As usual, a super-cool limerick! The sale goes on, the stuff doesn't go, but I do, and soon. So things are getting a bit desperate, prices are dropping, and hopefully we should be rid of those few items soon.

MM: You bet. Though of course she has "forgotten" that this ever happened.

OrangeJammies said...

I'll do it, I'll do it, honey (CACKLE, CACKLE)...it may be after you move countries, but I'll do it.. phor you!

Anamika said...

OJ: Thanks Honey :)