Monday, 10 April 2017

The Brief Tale Of Madan Mistry (Part 1 of 2)

He came to visit us not that often but mostly without any notice and on most occasions, uninvited. His presence always felt like that of any other family member around you. He would come mostly to uncle's ( who lived  just next door) for business and would often come into our house without knocking, shouting, "Raja re! Ki kori asa?" (Hey Raja, what's up?).

Madan Dai, as we dearly called him was a Bengali carpenter. He hailed from West Bengal, from the Koch Bihar region if i am not wrong. He first visited Assam somewhere in the 80's when he was just a little kid, with his dad who leaded an woodcutters' team. My grandpa hired them mostly and so a family like bond was created between them and us. Time passed and they left, but Madan Dai stayed and learned carpentry, a bit from here, a bit from there and became quite a good one in his job. Then one day after my parents' marriage, he reappeared. He was so unrecognizable, as dad told me and yet he remebered my family. He then began to live on rent in one of our rooms in a permanent sort of way. He mostly did wedding contracts, furniture and accessories and took household orders too. I remeber him since I have known a man is a man, a cow is a cow and you should always cry for your mom to take you to pee.
 Madan dai was a constant humour. A die hard cricket fan that he was, he also built me my first cricket bat, a good one made from Hilikha wood. I remember it lasted for a pretty long time until it landed on its destiny - the pond like pit at the back of our home where all the garbage was dumped. He never allowed himself to refrain from reading a monthly magazine and if I correctly remember, it was called 'Sising Faak' or something that sounded identical and it mostly cracked jokes on the then Assamese politicians and some day-to-day comedic situations and everytime he came across a punchline he would jump abruptly from the chair as if springs were tied to his feet and after a wholesome laughter he would narrate the same to dad or mom or whoever was in his vicinity. I remeber exactly the way he used to do that and even now when we talk about him, we donot fail to have a good laugh at it.

He was a good storyteller too and a radio fanatic and this habit that I too acquired from him is still pristine. The nostalgic remains of some of his radios were still lying around in the backyard untill dad cleared them off about a year ago.

 When I was about 9, he left and started living somewhere else. But he never failed to visit us on the many festivals and other occasions and his departure would often leave me in profound joy not only because the noise would be gone with him, but also 'cause of the ₹10 note he left in my hands.

He always had a bad timing. That day too I was only teaching my little brother some trigonometry when the frontyard echoed with his so familiar noisy voice. Mom was brooming the same room we were sitting in and she threw a 'we are doomed' sort of look at me, because she knew very well he wasn't going to leave early and my brother had his exam a day after. But he was a storm you wouldn't dare to stop. He came in, as usual without knocking and greeted mom and without even her asking him, he began describing where he had been, how he has been and where he was coming from at the moment. He was carrying an enormous bag  with him and in that bag I saw two enormous plastic containers filled with a dark fluid.
(To be continued...)
Raj Kishore Gogoi 

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