Memories co-exist differently and become different stories in their retelling; time marches on, in the meanwhile, leaving a trail of images behind, when the custodian of the stories has long gone.
Mashi in our mother’s accounts is a very different person from the one we loved in our growing up years. They were nine siblings and the family lived in a house with a rambling garden. Ma, Konchi and her younger brother Falgoo were inseparable and got into frequent trouble because of my mother’s mischievous pranks. Mahasweta was the eldest and mostly away studying at Viswa Bharati, Santiniketan, but when she came home, their wild ways came to an abrupt end, so they tried to find novel ways to avoid her. Mashi’s account of these days were somewhat different, like the time she couldn’t find the younger siblings anywhere, till a hushed whisper and muffled giggle led her to a tar drum outside, where the two had sought a secure hiding place. She had dragged them out, black from head to toe, dripping with tar and scrubbed them so hard that they went without eyebrows for weeks afterwards.