The house by the lake in Agartala is my home. It had a Bakul tree by the gate once, tall betel nut trees grew by the boundary wall, and there were so many mango trees, jackfruit trees and flowering plants. Our rooms were scattered all over the courtyard, made of bamboo with tin thatched roofs. Running around in the courtyard of that old-fashioned house, falling asleep to the sound of pitter patter rain prancing on the tin roof, this was home once.
But it was old-fashioned, inconvenient. Soon the courtyard shrunk and trees were chopped. The Bakul tree was first to go. A bigger, more modern concrete house was built and we soon made it our home. I would often look out of the window of my bedroom and stare at the still lake or the drizzling rain for hours. In late evenings I would lie down on the terrace and stare dreamily at the sky.
Soon, the world beckoned and it was time to leave. I made home elsewhere, however, a part of me always dwelt in the house by the lake. I would come back occasionally though not for long, for work summoned. My home always welcomed me with open arms, but my little corners have been lovingly invaded, my space taken over.
Things changed with COVID when we started working from home. I started visiting more often, my parents wanted me around and I fell back in love with Agartala. The lack of my own corner however irked me. My father promptly offered to build me a room on the terrace, a project that he took up excitedly but left us suddenly before the construction was complete. Losing my father was hard. It took us a while to come to terms with his loss. I took it upon myself to complete his project of love – build a beautiful corner that would add to my home.
I had to complete the construction first, coordinating with the mason, the painter, the guy who fixed the tiles and their ilk. Once the room was ready it was time to design my corner. While I was overseeing the construction, I came across old furniture lying unattended in nooks and corners – Dida’s (paternal grandmother) almirah, Didun’s (maternal grandmother) dressing table, an old chair, a table that my mom used as a little girl. Somehow, I never noticed these beautiful pieces before, now they seemed perfect for our home.
My grandmothers’ almirah and dressing table fitted so well in my room, and so did the study table that I used as a little girl. All I needed was a new bed. Identifying a carpenter, reviving the old furniture and at the same time managing work from home (Agartala) wasn’t easy. But it has been an immensely satisfying experience. My new corner in my childhood home soothes my tired soul.