The first house which I learnt to call my home was in Durgapur in a place called Joydev Avenue. It was a small two roomed single storied house belonging to the Durgapur Steel Plant.
No, I was not born there. But I spent the best part of my life there.
My father, an employee of Durgapur Steel Plant, moved into that house with my mother and myself (all of two and a half years) in the early seventies and we vacated it when my father retired from the same organisation in the early nineties. By that time I was already in college and that house had become my first HOME.
The house had a patch of land both in the front and at the back like all such quarters in Durgapur. My father being an avid gardener did magic there. The patch at the back was transformed into a brilliant fruit and vegetable bearing space, wherein we grew almost everything needed in the kitchen. We had plots growing potatoes, tomatoes, green chillies, cabbage, cauliflowers, onions, spring onions and God knows what else. We probably stopped short of cultivating our own paddy. The fruit section had Jackfruit, Mango, Banana, Lemon, Black Grape and my favourite ‘Peara Gach’ (my own Guava Tree). I had spent many a summer holiday acting the Mowgli on the branches of these trees. In fact, I remember lazing on one of the branches of the Guava tree on a winter afternoon and falling asleep subsequently. I woke up in a shock when I fell on the thorny Lemon shrub and learnt an important lesson of life---Never fall asleep on a thin branch of a tree.
The front patch was a treat for the eyes and nose. Neatly arranged in rows were the permanent beds of Bougainvillea, Marigold, Roses, Spanish bouquet and a host of seasonal flowers like Sylvia, Cosmos, Gerbera, Rajnigandha, Pansies and Bleeding Hearts. Bengal also had its presence through Togor, Kolkey, Phurush and Bel. These beds fringed a small, yet lush lawn. The Geometry of the layout of such beds and the lawn was brilliant, creating a sense of a neat and wholesome choreographed movement of colour. There were also a series of Chrysanthemums and Dahlias in pots during winter. If summer was a treat of exotic smells, then winter was a party of colours. The entire front patch was surrounded by a hedge which acted as a natural boundary for the plot. I had the honour of seeing Dahlias of a diameter of 14 inches bloom in front of my eyes and also had the thrill of knowing about 30 varieties of Roses by their names. There was also a delectable collection of about 40 different types of Cacti along with Foliage and Succulents.
The garden survived and grew into a veritable landmark of the street in spite of the challenge created by my cricketing pursuits in the lawn or in the passageways. It inspired many neighbours to create their own patch of Green.
My father knew each plant by its twigs and leaves and I seriously believed that he cared more for them than me, at times. He proved his expertise in land composition, cross breeding and identification of plant types. He never entered into any Flower Show Competitions but was revered as a master in the field by the locals.
It was fun to grow up inside an Oasis located within the stern heart of a Steel City and it was painful to leave that house when my father retired.
It was probably more painful for my father as he refused to recreate that magic in any of the houses that we subsequently lived in.
P.S.:- My blog completes the first year of existence today. Thanks are due to all my readers and friends who cajolled me and gave me the necessary push to shove my laziness aside and keep posting. So thank you all and Happy Birthday to my Blog.