Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mister Binocs

As i attempt to make a picture of my memories related to the Madhumalati my earlier post and the boy who refuses to get dissociated with this creeper which delights me in all possible way i wonder if Madhumalati would remain the same without his memories.
Then can excepting me anyone understand that there could be people in your past life for whom you can neither say that that he was your first crush nor actual love? Can i myself fathom then in all these years why is he so alive in my thoughts and even features in my dreams? As i try to figure out the WHY i can't seem to get answers but i am still happy with the unanswered question because this memory of him takes me to my childhood and amidst all things i start smiling as i go down this memory lane.

''Ye that  through your heart's to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What through the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight
Though nothing could bring back the hour
 of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind."
from Imitations Of Immortality From Recollections Of Early Childhood by Sir William Wordsworth.

The early 70's saw my Dad constructing his first own house in this area which still was not considered suitable for settlement  by many, as back then it was not so popular because apart from fields for farming it had no such frills as is most desired nowadays when one purchases a plot.Plus the main road leading to our construction site had a wide open canal which carried the town's dirt towards Holy Ganga.Sad but it did.And maybe it still does although now it is no longer visible to the naked eye.
It's a different story about that area altogether today as what to talk of a plot even small flat in that area will cost you something that approaches half a crore.And it has all the frills and fancies required for a modern day settlement.And no one but the octogenarians and all the grandad's, granmom's still alive, the original inhabitants will remember that wide open sewage canal which now is apparently concealed by smooth road by the sidelines of which all the accoutrements including apartments, shops and malls have sprung up.Probably hence it was known Boring Road then and Boring Road now...bore of the well kind...not bore of the mental status.

But it does not delight me anymore the sight of the concrete jungle and that family all scattered in all corners of the world and that house i doubt if the Madhumalati stills creeps across HIS window.And we don't live there anymore as my family back home has shifted to their new house and this house has been happily handed over to the twelve tenants who now have the sight of that house with it's original occupants all gone with the wind and now also housing tenants probably.

However as soon as the ground floor got constructed we moved in as construction still went on for the rest of the building.There were just 2 houses of repute then, HIS being one and the other of a famous and very respected minister of the Bihar Cabinet.
However since that was further away and his house was just across so it was just chance and few courtesies that my father exchanged with his new neighbour that got me a warm entry to his house.Maybe i was too cute as a child and his parents loved having me there and would often call me to play in their garden and also with the other kids of the house.
Happily i would gatecrash to play with his nephew who was my age and was affectionately known as Hittoo which i presume was a short form of his real name Hitesh.Another nephew Guloo was still a toddler and i could not be interested.Don't exactly remember how old i was then probably 6 or 7 but i was a real kiddo.
He was the only son to his parents after four elder sisters.And his father was in the Police Force while mine in Administration.So it was a good combination and i would be pampered, fed with specials of the day and allowed unlimited entry whenever i felt like.

Hitoo's mother was a renowned lady doctor something quite amazing during those times and in fact the entire family later was known in the town more for the 5 kids who were all very smart in academics with all daughters except one becoming successful doctors and the one who DIDN'T opted to teach as a lecturer in Botany instead at a very reputed girls college in town.People were in awe of this gentleman Mr P.N.Sahay who later got promoted to the IPS and whose kids were so brilliant in studies that they did very well in life and got the family much higher status in the social circuit.

It was predictable by the commitment he showed even as a kid towards his studies that he would do no less than his sisters all elder to him and so successful.Some even went to the extent of saying that if one Kayastha family has that vardaan  (blessing from the Gods) it is this family.It is a belief among my people back home that the Kayastha community have this blessing for lekhni( meaning reading writing as symbolic of intellect) from Gods.

This lanky and tall for me boy had a room of his own which had a window facing my house.So from wherever you could see from my house the window would be visible as the room was just above the garage of his house.And from the ground a very lush Madhavi lata (Rangoon creeper) crept all the way across his window and as if got stuck there refusing to climb further.You could thus see the blooms and in the evenings then when it was all vast spaces, get a whiff of the fragrance too of this and of the other fragrant shrub called Raat ki Raani(Queen of the Night,Cestrum nocturnum) which was planted next to his house gate.Very heady mix this which would delight us in the evenings when after dinner we would sit and have fun filled conversations about all and sundry  near our gate where chairs loosely scattered would fit all of us in.A single electricity pole with it's solitary bulb later a tubelight thanks to Mr Sahay IPS illuminated the road and the shrub and provided enough for us to have a mellow lit banter with family and relatives of whom there was no dearth.

So this boy whose name was Vijay Sahay went to the best boy missionary school and was also good in extra-curriculars. Was doted upon by his parents and sisters and also sang very well.Though he would always be seen with a book in hand he cannot be called a nerd or a geek.Was good in games too as i watched him play cricket with my brother and the rest of the colony boys.

The one good memory what i have is how his family would be seen having fun all the time.There would be weddings one after the other as each year the next in line sister would be getting married.If not the wedding then we would get invitations for all kiinds of parties including birthdays and welcoming parties.
My first encounter with a birthday party was here in Hitoo's birthday. Can't explain the wonder at the paraphernalia involving birthdays...Balloons,Cakes,and all that specials which i thought resembled a banquet.
And on all such occasions apart from the gramophone ( later stereo system) belting out songs, Vijay would perform invariably first at the cajoling of his sisters and later on request of the guests who were aware of his singing skills.He would then give a matchless rendition to popular film numbers sang to perfection in his teenage and not fully cracked man voice.

His family members would teasingly ask me who i wanted to marry.If it was Hitoo or Vijay and i was just too young too react to that.Don't exactly remember what i used to say.All i remember is that they would often tease this sandy haired unkempt girl, me, who would come to have her encounter with all fanciful things at his place.Vijay must be in his higher secondary then and i probably a first grader or perhaps second going to the best convent school in town.

During his sister's weddings a mike with loudspeaker would keep the colony chirpy with festivities as popular numbers were played.And in between songs from Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (i remember this very popular Hindi Movie) his voice would entertain us when Vijay would sing 'Jindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo makam...woh phir nahin aate...woh phir nahin aate'.Whatever we would be doing we would just feel enraptured and even as a kid i would stop to listen and wanted very badly to go and sing myself on that mike just to know how electricity would change my voice and make it sound so good.At least this is what i thought then.
Then when he would be lampooning with the colony boys during Holi (the festival of colours) they would finally stop at his gate all coloured and ready for their malpuas (holi special of Bihar which resembles a pancake) and  the much needed wash , he would be requested to sing.We would listen to his singing then from the terrace watching and giggling at the antics of the street- side romeos who would be trying desperately to grab our attention as a part of his holi gang.

Time passed and i grew up seeing him cross one milestone after another while the Madhavi lata kept getting lusher at the base and slender at his window with blooms now peeking from the rain hood ( that cemented projection) over his window.
There was yet another party in honour of Vijay qualifying his pre-medical entrance with top honours which my dad attended  along with the other known and reputed people of the town. i had by now grown up to to the extent that there were restrictions on my free movement and if at all i was taken it was always with my mom as an escort and this time since Ma was not going i wasn't even offered.
While i was allowed to attend all wedding functions at his place with my mom i certainly was grown up enough not to gatecrash.
Hitoo too had some years back moved abroad with his mom and dad who were now both practicing overseas.
But that particular day like some others in a girls life i hated my growing up and wondered if he regaled his guests once again at the party in honour of his achievement because i would often get news of all the awards and accolades won at his school for debates , elocutions and also his singing.By now i was sure that he was passionate about singing too.And just like others i was by now an ardent admirer of his brilliancy in academics and his superb skill in singing.

How he remains intact in my memory is after he went on to study medicine.He would now be seen as usual moving with thicker books and often seen at his window with the Madhavi Lata, cramming medicine silently, in between gazing out on the road or towards anything visible from his window.From my balcony i would also see him shaking his head as if trying to get some rhythm into his head of some songs.
Sometimes very rarely though on his initiation we would exchange LP'S. i do remember exchanging Karl Douglas's Kung Fu Fighting and George McCrae's Rock your Baby for his collection on Duran Duran and even Bee Gees. i guess so far as pop was concerned Duran Duran was his favourite.But can't be sure about that too because he listened to all that was popular and sang all that he liked.

But the best part for which he will be remembered by all in my colony which had by now mushroomed into a very happening place within a gap of 10 years was for his peculiar hobby.That he cleared his medicine levels with honours there is no doubt but more than that the sight of him with his binoculors looking far and near is what he was now talked about.Some silly ones in the colony talked negatively about this but no one made a fuss about it large enough that he could stop it because of complaints.Maybe the colony people gave him that benefit knowing that he was a harmless brilliant boy always studying so hard.
 He would sit on the swing in his balcony with his binoculars sometimes hung round this neck and in between books would just take his binocs and start spying on the colony.Spying that was what some who did get annoyed to see a young man do this would gossip amongst themselves.
Spying especially towards the terrace of my house which had two cute cottages on the either side which the bachelors would often take on rent.
This particular Malaysian who was also studying medicine had a girlfriend Junie who would come all the way from Malaysia to be with her boyfriend was what provided VIjay all the entertainment with.
Imagine a live in relationship back then and it created no furore because after all he was a Malaysiasn and on being probed by nosy neighbours the Malaysian would shut them up by proclaiming that Junie was his cousin.The Malaysian's cottage faced Vijay's terrace and his window and he would carry on with his hobby but also always seen studying seriously.

My friends who would come to visit me would see this young man in his white payjamas and shirt, sitting on the terrace with a thick book in his lap peering into houses and everything through his binoculars and that's how for us he was no longer Dr Vijay but Mister Binocs.For us teenagers it was enough to address him in our conversations as Mr Binocs, giggle hopelessly at our silly match making and teasing each other as to who would go ahead to make the first move with this man.i was by now a young lady doing my plus two very much in my teens the kind which secretly nurtures romantic thoughts about the opposite sex. Him can't be far behind then.Was brilliant, sang well , was from a rich and sophisticated background what more can one ask for. Only thing it was not to be so because in my heart secretly i was already having a platonic relationship with another boy who again was a Kayastha and was my class fellow.But no one knew about this.This was a secret divulged much later to my  best friend who could only yell in surprise at the revelation,...Oh my Shivani! you liked *******all this while...".
That's why i always say no matter where you are and however you are in everybody's life there is a 'Summer of 42'.

Later Mr Binoc's got married to my friend's elder sister who was also an intern now along with Mr Binoc's who had successfully completed his MBBS making inroads for his MD.And then they left the country to the land all head forward to, to be more proficient in their chosen careers and their field of specialisation.Can't really tell if it was UK or USA but definitely one of these.

Madhumalati brought all this memories alive though i often see Mr Binoc's in my dreams.My husband's interpretation to my dreams is that i admired him tremendously.He agrees that it may not be love or infatuation either but my admiration for his attributes has kept him there in the corner of my heart.
It's funny and strange how some things choose to remain so.And the guy i had my deepest love/crush/infatuation never features in my dreams.For this my husband has the same explanation when he says,"What you thought was love was just plain and simple admiration, admiration not for the boy as such but for his qualities." Probably my husband is right.Probably i still don't know as yet how to demarcate between admiration and adulation.Between devotion and love.

Maybe then memories are echoes that sound in our dreams and never fade away.
Maybe these are lights that burn to keep the heart alive.
Maybe they are precious, too precious that the heart chooses to keep them lingering.
Whatever...it cannot be summed up simply but here i'd like to quote Amanda Bradley when she says in her short poem 'Reminiscing'
"There's a place within our hearts
Where we keep our favourite memories,
The ones that never fail to make us smile--
And when life becomes too hectic
It's such a special feeling
to close our eyes and reminisce awhile ."

My own attempt on blogging about Madhumalati and memories led to another happy moment.So when after say 30years or more i Googled on Dr Vijay Sahay i found out that not only is he an endocrinologist par excellance as he is rated 4 out of 5 by his patients but now also a King of the Karaoke Club where he practices in New York.It made me so thrilled that i called my best friend still between goose pimples to tell her that i had found Mr Binocs.To which she asked me to send a link right away and when i did that again amongst more teasing she said,''NOBAAD,NOBAAD at all.'' Was she saying not bad not bad at all, who cares what she said , right now i have lots to listen to, of that doctor who did not allow a tough medicine life steal his passion away instead honed it to still more perfection.That boy turned roving eye turned doc... on whose window Madhumalati lingered probably waiting to hear him sing.Who knows...
Meanwhile i hear him croon ,' Hai Duniya usi ki Zamana usi ka...Mohabaat mein jo ho gaya ho kisika...'

Image courtesy:http://www.glowimages.com/search/Vine+Wall.html
For sake of privacy the names have been changed but everything else is as it was and as it is.


  1. Thats one hell of a long and thought lingering post. We all have had a fair share of our 'Summer of 42' I must say. You have managed to really go from the Madhumalati window to the doctors success story in one breath literally. I was worried that I would probably read a sad ending but this was one superb end. 'Nobaad, Nobaad' at all. Keep it coming.

  2. @Tandarin i knew i can count on you for that enormous patience.Thank you so much for listening to uski kahani par meri zubani(his story but from my mouth).Thanks for appreciating the reality that is life and for what keeps it going even though some may be unanswered questions and some better still... sweet memories.

  3. nobbad,nobbad! would be fun if he read it, eh?

    i like the way you make flowers speak for your feelings...

  4. @Manisha tell you what learning to be as good as you and i know i can't cause you are you and i am me...but try karne mein kya harz hai...thanks Rani :)

  5. Hmmmm...interesting.Agree to what you said about the heart choosing to keep some memories intact.This connection between a creeper and the boy you admired is put forward in simple words and that is what i liked in you post.

  6. @Anonymous thank you for reading and yeah the connection...it's strange how this happens because little i knew then that one day i will start missing even creepers and trees i grew up with.And just a chance encounter gives so much delight.

  7. That was one loooooooooooong post, but I really enjoyed every bit of it. Ditto to the prior comments. 'Nobaad, Nobaad' :) Good job portraying your feelings and linking Mr. Binocs with Madhumalti creeper. And I love Amanda Bradley's quote that you've put here. Some memories are preserverd forever and always make you smile or cry. Wonder is Mr.Binocs had any idea about his secret admirer. As Manisha said, "would be fun if he read it". :)

  8. @Preeti thank you dear for ur patience and taking time out to read it.i always wait for what you have to say.
    One surprise though Mr Binocs has read my post already and the word he used was 'NICE'and i was sooo happy that he has in words conveyed that for once i am understood.WONDER again why he could not say that in my comment box.Anyways i am one happy soul today...tra!la!la!!

  9. Aah, even i have some nice memories linked with a madhumalati creeper.. :)

    Not to mention, I had the experience of watching an old hindi film, reading this post.. :)

  10. @Manorath thank you for stopping by and taking time out to read the script...really!! you the first person to say that.Maybe u r right...so keep picturising in b/w...for a change it does us so much good.:)

  11. not b/w re!! how can it be b/w when there is madhumalati in it?? i was talking about the 80s cinema.. with heroes like rahul roy and the like.. :)

  12. Must i step in here and say with pride and joy
    i am the Mr Binocs.....
    Shivani the cute little girl who grew up right in front of my eyes will bring me such honor and make me center stage of this LOVELY MOST ARTICULATELY WRITTEN masterpiece blog,is probably the best accolade I have ever had in my life. Been there, seen it, got some awards in my career as a doc in USA and yes in singing too, but this one was a surprise, delight, and pleasant disbelief.....
    God bless Shivani and may Ma Saraswati bless her ''lekhani'' always and more and more as time goes by
    keep smiling...... all of you! Dr Sanjay(Vijay)

  13. i don't know how old i was when all this was happening . maybe i had gone to buy biscoot .
    you narration was so realistic that i felt back home at sujanbhavan .

  14. @Manorath thanks again...but i'd rather the early 6o or perhaps 70's movie which had Sadhana and mmmm perhaps Dev Aanand.Rahul Roy...eeks...spoils my movie.

    @Sanjay ji i am ALMOST FLOORED! The hero himself...can't say anything...rendered speechless with joy...Thank you tremendously Dr Sanjay(Vijay)

    @Gauri my Raani u were a baby and i feel bad i sent u for BISCOOT...HAHAHA...yeah baby Sujan Bhawan and all that Jazz.Strange how from a baby u have assumed the role of my Ma now...love u darling...don't know what i'd do without such a sis.Hugs.

  15. God, you're a Gujarati or what?! Nice post. Never in my life I've been able to write so descriptive. Madhumalti, well, go ahead and love it.

  16. @Jaky Astik Thank You so much for patience...mmmm...are Gujratis so descriptive?Well this post was actually a sequel to my earlier post.Thanks that you liked my rantings.Feel good:)

  17. Yeah. Necessity creates creativity. Like the helicopter was invented because of a military needing a plane which could take off from the warships vertically and be quick.

    I just forgot that idea. Necessity does inculcate creativity.

    By the way, your profile says you're 45. Your language seems young. How come?

  18. @Jaky Astik thank you for ur revisit ...mmmm...can't answer ur last one though i feel memories and the language to express those are eternal.

  19. Very nicely done. I read part of it before, when I was at work, but had to start over again... really brings out some visual images for us pardesis. :)

  20. @Anirban thank you for obliging me with your patience when i know u must be too busy to read just long posts.
    Just wondering though if you have become a Pardesi although i don't feel that in your posts.i feel that you are as desi as can be and that is what makes your posts so endearing and enjoyble.:)

  21. very good story about so long ago and very well written as always. You have the gift of expressing the simplest events so well and you captivated me well. I am so glad that MR. Binocs also responded--isin't that so cool. You deserve to be happy for that. Keep writing dear...

  22. @Mini Thank you dear for taking time out for my blog.
    Yeah the day i received this message from none other than Mr Binocs himself, i was on cloud nine.