My Childhood Memories
Sometimes when I sit alone in a lonely mood and think of my bygone days, the reminiscences of my past childhood appear, one by one in my memory. These were the days of weal and woe, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. As such, my childhood was like anyone’s childhood in this world.
I remember my father who is no more in this mortal world. He had to maintain a large family with a larger income that he made. He was very active and hard-working until his death at eighty-four. He was a chronic dysentery patient all along his life, for which many times he had to go without meals, specially at nights. He maintained strict dietrary principles for himself.
Most of times he used to take bael-sharbat and ripe papaya. Meat was his favourite dish. Later in life, he developed a liking for milk and butter. For vegetarian curry, he liked patal and green papaya. Arhar or specially the country arhar was his favourite dal. He never touched any kind of smoking.
He used to chew betel as much as he could but without any kind of narcotic or scented spice in it. His betel preparation consisted of half a betel-leaf, some cut pieces of betel-nut, a tittle paste of lime and a little powder of unscented catacheu. My father lived a very plain life for himself and managed with very cheap and little dress.
But he very strictly looked that all his family men and women were kept in high comforts, for which our family had all the new amenities of his time like gramophone, harmonium, sewing machine, torchlights, lantern, petromax, primus stove, bicycle, a small three-wheeled cycle (Tri-cycle) for myself, servants, maid servants, cooks, tuition masters, music-teachers and so on. In my quite early childhood.
When I was yet to learn Oriya alphabet, my father made me learn a lot of english words. He was very much lavish to make me a bright student, but I secured very poor marks in class-examinations. I could not be a student up to his ambition, For me, he wished that I should be well-placed in life, with power and privilege. He pinned a very high hope on me, but luck disposed otherwise, and he was disappointed.
My mother was very much affectionate to me as she is now. Though an Oriya by birth, she used to read out a book of Bengalee Ramayana. From her, I learnt to read Bengalee scripts when I was only seven years of age and I read out the Bengalee Ramayan when she did not. This little learning in Bengalee helped me very much afterwards for which, later in life I could read the books of Rabindranath and some other Bengalee authors.
It was very pathetic for me when I was first put to school in the fifth year of my life. I never liked to leave home for school. My father tore me away from home-life and carried me to school with tears in my eyes. In school my elder sister, who was also a student comforted me and gradually, I began to learn alphabet in mothertongue. I remember, I could learn the first four letters of Oriya consonants at one time and my sister was amazed at this. She told it at home and my mother was very much happy over it. When I was a student of class IV, I got a book from the school library.
It was an Oriya childen’s book called ‘Rushi Jeevanee’ (Lives of saints) written in simple flowing Oriya. This book put a profound effect on my mind. I marvelled at the power and privilege of Rishis and wished to be one. Since then, it made me very strict in manners. This strictness continued for many years that followed.
I remember a sad event of my childhood days. It was before any of my milk-teeth fell down. Once while, I was playing on the high-level verandah, I fell down from the verge and the four teeth of my upper jaw dashed against the brim of a bucket placed below full of water.
Consequently, four of my teeth were broken and blood sprang out in terrible spouts from my jaw. A cry of alaram swept over the family. A large bed-sheet was thrust on my jaw to check the blood-flow but it was completely soaked and another sheet was needed. However,
the blood could be checked at last, but for a long time | could not eat or drink anything. For a long time, my mother put some specially-prepared meat juice, little by little, into my throat, with the help of a little spoon through the little opening of my mouth which I could make with much difficulty and drank it in draughts.
All feared that I would not get a second growth of teeth at the affected part of my jaw. A few said that I would have a second growth of teeth, but they would be uneven. However, in course of time teeth came out at the affected part and nobody has ever remarked that they are uneven. But I am still in doubt, whether they are really in perfect order or only seemingly so.
Reminiscences of my childhood days automatically come to my mind whenever I sit in a vacant mood. I relish very much the pleasing memories of my childhood but whenever a sad remembrance comes to my mind. I get myself engaged in work with a view to forgetting it.