Jalsa, Mumbai Nov 8/9, 2018 Thu/Fri 12:01 AM
These steps that tread upon me in human form are the feet and presence of my owner and keeper. He acquired a portion of me many years ago in the year of the Lord, 1974-75 , as per the Gregorian Calendar .The Gregorian calendar being the most widely used civil Calendar in the world, named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582 ; a date also complying with its discoverer or convenor .
This sloped roofed structure you see is what this owner of mine built, and made it liveable by 1976. It was some kind of an architectural fashion to build homes much in the style of European designs, mostly prevalent in Western Europe – the angles were abrupt and none of the rooms had that traditional square or oblong appearance , something that puzzled the Father of the owner !
Most of the exterior an interior walls were done as exposed concrete, another popular builders desire, polished and painted in the same cemented look that glistened to perfection and prevented any kind of exterior damage from the elements ; it also helped the interior designers from planting any hangings on the walls because they prevented any nailing or drilling through the concrete.
Once ready it was occupied by the owner and his family – his parents, his wife and his two children. The Mother of the owner broke the traditional coconut at the entrance steps of the home, named Prateeksha by the Father of the owner – a literary giant, who described the reason of the name through one of the lines from his poetic works :
“स्वागत सब के लिए यहाँ पर नहीं किसी के लिए प्रतीक्षा”
swagat sab ke liye yahan par nahin kisi ke liya prateeksha ..
… a welcome to all that come here, but we wait for no one ..
There were many trees that I inhabited when I came here with my owner , among them a very prominent Christmas tree , a pine tree, quite unusual for the environs of this great Metropolis, stood valiantly just at the edge of the grass upon the boundary. Valiant because it weathered several rain storms, bending and adjusting its length and spindly form for many years , until it eventually gave in and dropped. A sad day for us all, including the owner, who’s children were particularly fond of its meandering shape. Most of the other trees are alive and abound. The one in the middle is a Gulmohar , the one that blooms during or just before the Monsoons in bright orange colours. The owner planted it upon me as a sapling, barely a few inches in size. But just look at the fellow now – a full grown adult, with strong trunk and branches that drooped down pictorially over my greenery, preventing me to blossom underneath it, because it would cut of the sunlight that I needed for my growth. I gave in to it, condescendingly, but with sensitive trimming – a procedure now needing BMC permissions – I have been given life beneath it .
Soon after my acquisition, I was given an additional companion – the spare land beside me lying unkempt and in absolute waste. It was desired through advice, learned I believe, that it be joined to my limits to spread my expanse, and give in to the morning stretches of my limbs . Now I occupy a fair sized space and it has been meticulously looked after. My owner takes special attention in providing me the necessary water and sun and given me some special diets to consume, commonly known as ‘khaad’ , or manure in the official language of the Queens english !
This space that is being tread upon, is sacred to all .. the trees that abound beside me , the flowers and plants that grow in abundance, and the use that I have been to the several important occasions of my owners family.
The owners children have grown up on these blades of grass , through their birthday parties. The space has hosted many a festival of the year – Holi, Diwali, weddings .. and the passings of the owners parents. All of that was given pride of place upon me her at this very location ..
The Holi celebrations were wild and fun filled with music and dance and foods to eat .. and the customary ‘bhaang’ to be drunk. My own countenance took a sever beating. I was roughed up, watered down with ll kinds of paint and slush and mud .. but I am strong and well preserved. I came back from the brink of extinction every time.
Both the owners children were married of on my chest of the evergreen presence .. and sadly the owners parents last rituals after their passing were also conducted on me ..
No one talks to me ever .. but if they did I would voice all the details of the goings on with great pride ..
I must say, that my owner despite several commercial advises, has restrained from any kind of structure to be built upon my bearings and I must thank him for it. It is of course extremely rare in a city like Mumbai to have green open spaces and I have pride of place in such discussion ..
There is great care of the nature of a pedicure and manicure that occurs ever so often. I am trimmed and kept in shape. Decorative lights surround about me, not leaving me in the dark of the night. It brings a smile to my face each evening.
A corner of me is preserved for the burial of a few pet dogs of the owner. They were such a delight when alive. Running wildly about and over me, playful and spirited. I miss their presence, and am sure my owner misses them too. But such is life …
The structure and my partners about me, get their liveliest moment during the festival of Diwali. All about is li up with exquisite lighting, making the presence to invite the Goddess Laxmi to visit us and bless us ..
BUT .. this year we did nothing .. as also the year before .. there were the passings of family and that is the time when respectfully we refrain from any decoration or celebration, in order to remember the lost ones ..
The owner spends time here often. His Fathers study carries memories of his, and he comes to pray and seek blessings during prayer meetings at Diwali and the Satyanarayan Pooja .. the Ramayan and the Hanuman Chalisa play continuously in the room of the study, where certain belongings of the Father are kept in apt preservation ..
Visitors that have come to Prateeksha, have often felt a peace within its interiors .. the wooden frames and the Kota stone floors have remained unchanged, as has most of the structure .. my owner likes to keep it that way .. he refuses to change anything .. even though my own presence has been dwarfed by large multi-storied concrete giants that have sprung up all around ..
I wonder what my owner reminisces as he walks about tonight after the prayers for Diwali .. does he even remember all that has transpired, with me as a witness ..