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Avishek Gupta


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The Balcony on the South

By: avishek82 Posted Mar 11, 2013 General 1104 Views
(Updated Mar 11, 2013 12:41 PM)

My father has two sisters. My younger aunt stays with her husband and two sons near the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in Tollygunje, Kolkata. Their house is a spacious one and has been a favorite place of visit to me since childhood.

After reaching the other side of 30, I become nostalgic often and try to relive the golden days of childhood and adolescence in my memory. I have many fond memories in my younger aunt's house, whom I call Pisisona. And a large part of these memories are attached with a south facing balcony in their home. This balcony has seen me through the ages and have been a witness to my growing up.

My aunt and her family refer to this balcony as ***Dakshiner Baranda***. *Dakshin*, as you know, means south and *Baranda* means balcony in Bengali. So the term *Dakshiner Baranda* means the balcony on the south. I liked this name much in my childhood and also started using this name to refer to this balcony.

The balcony was a really huge one. You don't see balconies as large as this now-a-days any more. It allowed a view on to the ground floor courtyard and also a section of the alley next to the boundary wall of the house. The balcony has seen many renovations over the years but the red floor still stays the same. In my childhood there was a decorative railing from the floor upto the waist level of a grown up man. The top portion was open and allowed a great view. Now-a-days for safety purpose there is a grill and a sliding window pane. The view is still there, but with a difference.

Whenever we have a gathering in my aunt's house, we have to visit this balcony. Wonder why? It has a wash basin, where you can wash your hands before and after a meal. There are also the entrance to two washrooms in this balcony. Primarily the baclony is used for storing some household items and hanging of washed clothes for drying now-a-days.

The balcony is very airy and full of light. I remember spending many a long summer noon here with my cousins, when there was a power cut. The cool breeze soothed us. In our childhood, the balcony also used to be the home of the pet dogs my cousins had. First was a Boxer dog called Gama, and then we had Cleo, a white Spitz. The dogs are no longer with us, but there memories remain.

There was a very old wooden couch in this balcony where we sat and chatted our heart out. The maids used to sit on this couch and chop vegetables. We played cricket in this balcony. And sometimes we simply gazed outside. We tried to spot birds among the trees in the ground floor courtyard. Some times we looked out to the alley and watched the people who have come to shop in *Lala's Dukaan* - a stationary shop run by a middle aged person called Lala.

Over the years, this balcony has been a silent witness to the bond we share. Now a days all we three brothers are scattered in different parts of the country and world. It is very rare that the three of us get together. And when we meet, we hardly revisit the balcony any more. Yes, I still go there to wash my hand! I pause for a moment, silently stare at the balcony and try to remember so much it has given us, so much it has given me. I hope I continue to gather many more happy memories here!

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