Our member Mr R. N. Banerjee fondly remembers his childhood days before and after Bengal partition. He shares his memories and a few innocent occurrences of those days.
We lived in a neighbourhood adjacent to Bardhhaman Railway station during the 1940s. The place had a big playground with wide open streets where we had some wonderful memories. The wide GT road with agricultural fields on both sides of the road, the cheerful school days, everything is still fresh in my mind.
My 𝘗𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘮𝘢, or paternal aunt used to live with us. She was a widow, and was very protective about us. We could reach school fast by crossing the GT road which was a shortcut, but also a busy road, hence, dangerous. 𝘗𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘮𝘢 had strictly instructed us to take a longer route which was safer, rather than crossing the unsafe road. But as kids usually are, we too used to love breaking rules at times.
During those days, there was a unique way of carrying books in monsoon. We used to arrange the books in the ribs of the umbrella to make sure they didn’t get wet. Though it would increase the weight of the umbrella, still we did not mind carrying our books that way to protect them from getting wet. But then there was another issue, the loaded heavy trucks travelling at high speed on the GT road would blow away our umbrellas and our books would scatter all over and get wet. Then everyone would rush to collect the books and wipe them.
During winter the agricultural fields on both sides of the roads used to be full of peas. The farmer had a hard time keeping the school going kids out of the fields. In their presence the peas vanished in no time.
During World War II, there were frequent blasts in several places. We as kids were taught how to use the inflator pump in school, so that in case of any emergency, even kids could use it to putt off fire.
I also remember 15th August 1947, the day we got independence, was indeed an unforgettable ceremony. We had coloured papers to make Indian flags and we were very excited to make those. We all hoisted flags on our roof and were extremely proud of our freedom. I also remember how the thunderstorm washed away my flag to the next roof and from there to the next. Our happy faces suddenly turned concerned, and all of us got busy collecting our flags from that mangled stuff.
Now I find those childhood vacant places filled with shops and establishments. The field though still present is much smaller in size now. Yet, the happiness and carefree childhood life, and the moment of our country’s independence is still etched in my mind.