This evening, it's my nose or maybe I've been getting intimations of the sweet odor of burning incense!
We were living the good life in Comilla, a time about which I'm going to spend a few words here and dwell in memory. I was a chirping bird admitted to nursery class then, only four and a half years old. Though now I can't even remember what had happened the day before, I can recollect vividly the most unusual incidents of my early childhood then. It is like returning to an often watched movie!
A white one storey house; trees of different species and colors growing behind the house, entangling each other; and a big field fronting that white colored house. Indeed, we didn't have a yard in front of that house, but what we did have was a really big field filled with all sorts of joyful games. I would always see the beautiful and finely polished house of the Apu who lived on the other side of the field. In fact, two Apus lived in that house. Little me was awe-struck by their beauty; they also had a younger brother nearly my age. He used to be afraid of me most of the time without any valid reason. I mustn't forget -- "bhalo aunty" and "bhalo uncle" lived there as well! And why did always tag them with that adjective? Well, I can't recall the reason now. But who says a four and half year old child needs a reason for every single thing she says?
The building we lived in had two flats; one for us, the other one for Rupama and her family. The building actually belonged to them as did the mini-jungle behind the house and the big field I mentioned just a few lines ago; everything there seemed to belong to them.
Rupama was my age. She had pale bright skin and a head full of curly hair. I did not like her that much! She used to finish her milk glass before her mom could stare at her more than once! Rupama never wasted time watching useless funny cartoons on TV; she would have rice and veggies from her plate; most importantly, Rupama used to display a lot of love for Mifta. All things sufficient for me to not like Rupama—unlike my mom! But Rupama and I used to play all day long and her mother used to love me like a second mom.
I remember clearly the time when Rupama's uncle, aunt and a cousin sister just a couple of years older than her, came to Comilla. They were from America and not Bangladesh! They showered bundles of love on me, too. While leaving, that pretty Apu with gorgeous hair and aunty reminded me to write something whenever Rupama would post a letter to them.
One day my mom bought me clips just for me, and not for my dolls. My memory of the time is so fresh even now that I can still picture my tiny self writing a letter, along with Rupama, to her boro ammu that evening; I added this line to what she had already written: "send many packets of juimui clips for me." "Juimui", I should explain, was the name I had given to the kind of round-shaped clips one couldn't find in shops stocking children's good, something beyond my understanding then!
In those days Aunty used to burn incense to make the house free from mosquitoes. My mom would do so too. I had developed an immense love for the odour of burning incense back then. It is a scent still very close to heart.
My dad got his transfer letter even before we had spent a full year in Comilla. We packed our belongings and moved to another place where we would live temporarily, leaving dear Comilla behind forever.
At that time we were so young that the idea of exchanging phone numbers did not strike our little brains. Mail addresses and Facebook accounts weren't something that existed then.
We lived in many other places afterwards, but no place gives me a heartache every time I think of it like Comilla does. After all, I hadn't left a piece of my heart anywhere else the way I did when I left Comilla.
My first school; my first friend; pretty Meghla Ma'am with her even prettier smile; the large field in-front of white colored house, the fairy like apus from the other side of the field, bhalo aunty-uncle and Rupama -- all these we had left seemingly hundred miles away from us in Comilla!
The odour, the enchanting odour of burning incense, can fill you with immense nostalgia!
Iffat Tanzi is hopelessly in love with literature, children, and dry flowers. She is a doctor by profession, but bibliophile by choice.