Today, early in the morning, my cousin brother sent me this picture. This is the picture of our ancestral home in the suburbs of Kolkata. This one image depicts the damage and devastation my home state West Bengal went through in one evening due to cyclone Amphan. It was hard to recognise my own home, the home I grew up, from this image.
Looking at the uprooted mango tree, I suddenly felt as if someone in the family have died. Tears welled up in my eyes.This mango tree was not just a tree, it was a part of my childhood. I used to swing from the branches of this tree. Me and my younger cousin brother used to play ‘hide and seek’ behind this tree. This tree used to bloom with the sweetest mangoes during the summer season. Most afternoon were spent eating mangoes. In the beginning of spring, the fragrance of raw mango pickle used to be all over the house. Later on, during the scorchy summer it used to get replaced by the smell of ripe mangoes. We used to have mango for our breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even after distributing to the neighbours there used to be so many that the women in the house used to feel overwhelmed on what to do with it. I remember, my mom making aam sattwa or aam papad in the afternoon and letting it dry on the terrace. Aam pora sherbat was a cool drink that we offered to whoever came to visit us. So many memories of childhood are linked to this one tree that it is hard to recollect all of them.
Our house used to be full of people back then. Over the years, my grandparents passed away followed by my parents, my uncle and two aunts. Most of us left that house and migrated to different parts of the world and country. However, the mango tree never went anywhere and stood like an old guard to the house. It was a reminder of the ‘good times’ we spent in that house. It reminded us of all the laughter and chattering that once reigned over the house. It stood there silently like the old man who inhabits dilapidated houses. But yesterday it left us. The cyclone took away an old friend. I wish a new plant grow from the seeds left behind by our dear friend.