25 years is a lot of time to remember someone. In these 25 years there was no communication between us. But we did not forget. In the year 1987 we were living at Hardwar in the BHEL town ship. Mr. Subroto Banerjee and Mrs. Mukta Banerjee were living in front of our quarter with their three children. Banerjee dada was my husband’s senior colleague. We were very close to them because dada’s funny jokes & talks, and boudi (elder brother’s wife) was a very kind and adorable person. The year 1989 when my younger son was born, boudi stayed with me the whole night at the hospital. She took care of me and my child. In 1990 summer they were transferred to Nagpur and left Hardwar forever. Gradually memories fade away.
Few days ago we visited one of our good friends – Probir and Maloti Ghosh at Nagpur. Ghoshes took us to Banerjee-da’s place. There we met Banerjee family again after a gap of 25 years. Now we all have grown old. Dada and boudi welcome us very warmly. We talked about good old Hardwar days. Dada asked “How is my DHA?”
Dada had a Fiat car, a Premier Padmini. The colour of that was light brown top and dark brown bottom. The number plate of the car showed [DHA 650]. My husband did not want a car at that time because we were happy with our two wheeler. His all friends and colleagues had their own car. Meanwhile dada was planning to purchase a new Maruti car so he wanted to dispose his Fiat.
One evening I was standing on the balcony. My children were playing in the park. Suddenly I saw dada was coming. He parked the car in front of my house. He got down from the car and pulled a rope from behind seat, then he tied the car with the tree which was standing in front of my quarter as if it were a horse or cow. I called dada “What are you doing?” He said “I am leaving this car with Abhijit, tell him to settle the things.” I said “He is not at home.” Dada said “Who cares…..” and walked towards his home.
Now DHA was ours. We explored nearby areas with it. The car was very spacious. Two families could easily be accommodated in it. Most of the Sundays we went for a long drive with our friends. But any Sunday if we stayed at home for any reason that day Abhijit invariably went to Munna (the only car mechanic in BHEL township) with his DHA.
One winter Sunday morning Subramanium family came to our home and we planned to go to Rishikesh, but DHA 650 was not in a mood to go. So it did not start. Subramanium opened the bonnet and tried to fix it. My son Pakku said “Uncle chorr do, DHA nahi chalegi” (Uncle leave it. It will not move.) Subramanium said “Kaise nahi chalegi? Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, DHA sab chala dunga”. (How will it not Start? I can start the whole octave Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, DHA, Ni.) But the car did not start and we celebrated picnic in our lawn and made a plan to go to Corbett National Park. The place was 250 Km from Haridwar and decision had been taken that the DHA will go.
On 13th April 1993, we started from home at 6:30 am with two sleepy kids. We picked up Subramanium, Ramani and their two sleepy kids. We reached Nazimabad at 7:30. DHA had a problem. The brake fluid started leaking and suddenly the brake failed. Fortunately Abhijit realised the problem when there was no traffic in front of DHA. So we stopped there and searched a mechanic to fix it. I and Ramani fed our kids. We started again. At Ramnagar Abhijit refuelled the car then at 2:30 we reached Dhangarhi the main entrance of the national park. We had a booking inside the park. The name of that place was Dhikaala. From the main gate distance was 50 km.approx. There were no tarmac roads. The road between Dhangarhi and Dhikala was gravelled a long time ago, but had not been repaired ever since. One could see traces of the old tarmac cover on the road with lots of pebbles and rubbles. There were long stretches where no signs of tarmac road was to be seen – only pebbles and raw soil beneath the loose pebbles. Kids were in very good mood. All of a sudden we got a pungent smell of petrol inside the car. My husband stopped the car. Subramanium and he went out. There was a trail of petrol coming out from the Petrol tank. They tried to block it by stuffing polythene bags, but the leakage could not be stopped and we saw all the petrol flow out on the road. Chinna (Ramani’s younger daughter) said “I have been seeing the trail of petrol for a long time now.” We all asked her, “Why didn’t you tell us!?” She simply replied, “Why should I?” The road from that point was downhill, so we got back in the car. The hand brake was released, and the car started to roll down the road till and ultimately stopped on a river bed cause way. We came out and were pleasantly surprised. All the fuel flew out, because one small piece of stone hit the plug of the petrol tank. We had to go another 22km to reach Dhikala. In another 2 hours the sun would have set. Chinna’s questions increased our stress level.
“If a tiger comes, then are we safe in the car or outside the car.” She asked. Pakku said “In the car, stupid”. Then Chinna continued “If an elephant comes? Then inside or outside the car.” Her elder sister Smurta retaliated “Stop asking the question!!” But Chinna continued “If elephant sits on the car then are we safe inside the car or outside the car.” Finally, one jeep going towards Dhikala stopped by. They gave us a lift up to the destination. We ladies and children reached on the spot but Abhijit and Subramaniam stayed back with the DHA even after dusk.
So there were lots of memories we had with the DHA. It became our family member. In the year 1997 Abhijit transferred to Varanasi. The DHA came with us and we explored the holy (cow) city. Two years later, Abhijit planned to buy a new car. Now we wanted to sell the old car. Those days a grocer came to our house for monthly supplies. He readily wanted to purchase the car. Initially he agreed to pay 10000Rs. But later on, he gave only Rs. 8000 – Rs. 6000 cash and the remaining Rs. 2000 as groceries. The DHA always lived in our memories since then.
So, coming back to the present from my brief trip to nostalgia, I told dada that the DHA is still in our hearts. After 25 years, another evening was added to our memories. My respect to both of you.