Our Taj Mahal...


The little tin-roofed house stood forlorn in the middle of vast fields. Buffaloes wallowed in shallow pools in front of the house. Sis and I looked on in disbelief.

“Is this where we are going to live?”


We had never imagined shifting to Guwahati would be to a place like the one in front of us. Even though we were staying in a jungle previously, that was in a large wooden bungalow, while our vacations were spent in our grandmother’s sprawling mansion. 


“Don’t worry,” Ma seemed to sense our apprehension. “We will soon build a new house here.”


I still remember our excitement when Deta (my dad) returned home one evening with the blueprint of the house from the architect. We had fought over our bedrooms and debated over the wall shades. That night we slept with smiles on our faces, dreaming of our ‘castle’.


“Be prepared now, girls,” we were told by the daughters of our parents’ friends on the day of the bhoomi puja. “No more clothes, books or toys till the time the house is complete. They won’t entertain any of your demands.” They whispered sinisterly, pointing to our parents.


And so the construction began. It went on for years. The house was being built with the salary of an honest man, after all. In the interim, Deta got transferred twice to different places, faraway from Guwahati. At times, there were monetary crunches and work had to be stalled. We traced our fingers over the frayed blueprint, wondering if we will ever get to live in our dream house. Even Deta started jokingly referring to our house as the Taj Mahal. (Taj Mahal took 20 years to build.)


The house did get built sometime in the early 2000s. But by that time sis and I had moved out for higher studies and later on, our career. Technically, we had moved in to our new home when it was half completed. Deta had decided to get the completed part painted and we pored over the Asian Paints pamphlets, arguing over the shades and the types (distemper, washable and what not). I left for Delhi for my MBA before the painting started. It was a pink house that I returned to after 5 months. 



Wall hangings from Sikkim, bamboo painting by me! A perceptible North-Eastern theme...

Although Deta meant the time period when he said that our house was no less than Taj Mahal, I think the cliché attached to it fits our house more – a labour of love. For, it was Deta who sat awake over nights with pen and paper and designed the doors, the grilles and the work on the walls. And it was Ma who without consulting any interior designer, magazines or the internet, lived out her dreams by decorating the house. Maybe today she could have taken help from Asian Paints Home Solutions




Our wooden furniture gets a new leash of life with fresh varnish; the mask is from Sikkim and the white birds on the walls are my dad's designs



Traditional Assamese Xorai (L) made of bell metal, handiwork on jute cloth used as wall hanging (made by my cousin)

Ma decided to retain our old wooden furniture, designed by Deta. Fresh coats of varnish were applied to them and soon their surfaces were gleaming with a golden sheen. She put up handcrafted pieces of work on the walls, including a bamboo painting that I had made. Ma would also scour the labyrinths of markets and exhibitions for little knick-knacks for the living room. She made us return home with quaint masks, bells and wall hangings from any place we visited. Her penchant for such things became so well known within the family that today her fridge is stacked high with magnets from all around the world, mementoes that my cousins and aunts had picked up on their sojourns. I could see the child in Ma clapping her hands in glee at the London Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Swiss cuckoo clock, the Roman Colosseum, the yacht and the sun-kissed beach from Maldives…



Various hand crafted knick-knacks collected from all over the country

“How does it look?” she would ask us after every new addition, rearranging the cushions and the curtains. The house was her little world.


Today, we sisters are married and stay very far from our home in Guwahati - the ‘castle’ of our dreams. The one we could not live in forever. Ma and Deta shed a tear every time we visit them. 


“We built the house for you,” they would say ruefully. “And now you come as guests and stay just a few nights.” 


Their greatest regret remains that we could not spend more time together as a complete family in our new home. At the same time, I perceive a happy glint in their eyes when my nieces from space-crunched Mumbai romp abandoned around the house and announce that my parents have the loveliest house in the whole world and that they would like to have a similar one for themselves when they grow up. Another set of dreams, just as we had when we were their age.


“They just refused to leave our house,” Ma would relay to us happily over the phone. Sometime later she would tell us of offers received from production houses for filming TV serials at our home.


“No!” sis and I would object.


And yet, whenever I think of our home, my mind harks back to those days when it used to be filled with incessant chatter and full-throated laughter. A cheerful house, filled with cousins who would spend their vacations with us, along with our raucous horde of pets. We had a few guests living in the attic as well, a family of spotted owlets who had to be evicted eventually when they multiplied, leaving behind splatters of white droppings all over the front of our house. 



Family bonding around the bonfire on Magh Bihu

Even though we are not there with our parents today, the house continues to serve its purpose. It is where relatives drop in when they are in the city for a few days, where my aunts gather in the evenings and share their day’s stories over cups of tea, where Bihu feasts take place and happy tidings celebrated. Our home has seen three weddings in the family, my sister’s, mine and our cousin’s, and has been witness to all the madness that had transpired.


Today, there are no buffaloes wallowing in muddy puddles in front of our house. The area is choc-a-block with houses, crammed against each other. In the midst of all that, remains our oasis. My parents’ labour of love – our Taj Mahal…






Our Taj Mahal

(I took the opportunity to write about my home as part of the Beautiful Home blogger contest held by Asian Paints and Ripple Links. Do take a look at the Asian Paints Home Solutions page.)


Comments

  1. Beautiful post and a beautiful house. Loved reading every bit of it.I welcome you to my space as well.
    http://paramaghosh.blogspot.in/2014/01/the-nest.html
    Lots of luck for the contest.

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    1. Thanks Parama, I just hastily put this together..

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  2. Truly a labor of love and it shows! No wonder none of your relatives want to leave this beautiful peaceful abode! I can understand how u n sis must feel...but it will always be your Taj Mahal :) All the best for the contest. This has to win!! :D

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    1. Thanks Aditi, you are so kind with your words...but winning the contest...no way hahah!

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  3. Really wonderful, Sangeeta :) We all love the Taj Mahal & you have it in your Post!
    Very nicely expressed. Best wishes for the Contest :)

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  4. Beautiful interiors, reflects the love and affection in it.

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    Replies
    1. I am so glad that you felt that, Indrani. Thanks!

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  5. beautiful house... beautiful photos...

    thanks

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    Replies
    1. My mom will be glad to hear that :) Thanks!

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  6. Seems beautiful as well as decorated by the best way and besides I'm sure that It will help to me when I'll go for adorn of my house with mom. Thanks for share!!

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  7. Beautiful pics... Absolutely labor of love... a house made of honest man's income always takes time but turns out lovely...no less than Taj Mahal.

    manjulikapramod.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Manjulika. Your words made my day :)

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