Sometimes when I sit alone in a lonely mood and think of my bygone days, the reminisceneces 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 dietary principles for himself. Most of times he used to take bael-sarbat and ripe papaya. Meat was his favourite dish. later in life, he developed a liking for milk and butter. For vegetarian curry, he liked 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 title 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, 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 Bengali Ramayana. From her, I learnt to read Bengali scripts when I was only seven years of age and I read out the Bengali Ramayana when she did not. This little learning in Bengali helped me very much afterwards for which, later in life I could read the books of Rabindranath and some other Bengali 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 who was also a student comforted me and gradually, I began to learn alphabet in mother tongue. 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.
I remember a sad event of my childhood days. It was before any of my mild-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 alarm 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 I could not eat or drink anything. For a long time, my mother put some specially-prepare 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.