Started reading “A city happens in Love” by Ravish Kumar — translated from the Hindi version — Ishq mein shahar hona, by another favorite — Akhil Katyal.
Right at the beginning, there is a beautiful line on a permanent address. Took me back to all the forms filled during my school and college days. The permanent address was always, our village in Goa. I think my father always wanted to move back there post-retirement. Maybe it was his way of making us aware of our roots. Maybe he just missed his home despite all the years he spent in Mumbai. Whatever be the reason, he made sure that a love for our “native place” was instilled in us right from our childhood.
Every vacation from school meant a trip to Goa. Like clockwork, we would leave around the 13th of April and return around the 10th of June. Most times, we traveled by Kadamba — the government of Goa bus service. We graduated from 90° to about 25° finally to 45° seating, as my father’s position in his company (MSEB) improved. Sometimes we took the train, changing over at Miraj.
Life in a Goa village was (is and always will be) incongruous with the concept of time. A few days into the vacation we would forget what day of the week it was. Years later, we could figure out Sunday, courtesy Ramayan and then Mahabharat. Wake up, go fishing, a quick snack (mostly rice water with mango pickle or a sliver of coconut), quick swim, lunch, siesta, cricket, dinner… repeat. The schedule is broken only by the occasional late-night movie.
Ravish writes that, in a village everything is ours; this is absolutely correct. The entire village would get together to paint someone’s house. I also remember the fishing season, where everyone would get into the water (the fishing waters are called “muuss” in Konkani) to heave the nets to the shore. Sotu Mama would then reward the helpers with a few fishes; more as a token for helping out. On the way to the fishing ground, there was this mango tree, the branches engulfing the road which snaked past it. It was quite normal for us to throw down a few mangoes, then knock on the door of the owner’s house, get some salt, gobble up the mangoes and proceed on our merry way.
To this day, I can walk home the final 250 meters to our house in pitch darkness. As if the path is welded into my brain, courtesy of some weird muscle memory. Maybe it's some kind of homing pigeon effect.
Man, all this and just a few pages read. I will post again after I finish reading the book.
P.S. These days my “permanent address” is no longer Goa. It is not even the house we stay in Mumbai. I have come to the conclusion that home is wherever Janaki is.