A tongue-in-cheek look at the irrepressible Mashima who has an opinion on everything. By noted cultural ambassador and dancer, Sohini Roychowdhury.
The soi disant Godmother, Bengal´s pride – our very own Mashima.
No kin of my mom, if you discount the courtesy of the neighbourhood anopheles mosquitoes.
This (un) God Aunt, with her saturnine tongue, can reduce daydreams to nightmares and the free -spirited into veritable pumpkins. Growing up with “our kalchaar is far superior” whenever we hummed Bollywood songs or danced our rigorously rehearsed Thillanas.
I refused to be coached by her nasal, hyper, out of tune renditions of Rabindra Sangeet. Tagore, we loved, but refused to have Mashima´s version of him shoved down our throats.
Mashima was a Von Trapp.
A Self-proclaimed singer and dancer, her (non) movement with those free style flailing chubby arms, her mounds of clumsiness pouring out of her default Bengali red blouse, failed to impress….and I was almost witch hunted for being the non-conformist.
Mashima broadly divided the Cosmos into “Planet Us” – the superior Bengalis, and the “Planet Them” – the culture marauding non- Bengalis and their satellites, the “Madrasis”. I wondered if the Martians were allocated the second planet, or the satellite.
Mashima Ruled the Universe.
Mashima’s son, we concluded, was an immaculate conception, academically and righteously perfect, except for the occasional bouts of stomach ailments. Khokon’s health and bowel movements assumed federal importance when he moved to the IIT hostel. Mashima took up the issue of hostel food (no maacher jhol!) with the zeal of a jihadi.
Mashima was a Crusader.
However, Khokon endured, his bowel movement and health recovered, with his love for his Punjabi classmate, and her zest for life seduced Khokon away. Mashima’s dreams of a Bong baptism remained unfulfilled as her suddenly spirited Khokon left for Canada with his vivacious bride.
Mashima was a Tragedy Queen.
We sadly succumbed to Mashima’s dual role – the martyr (Ami eto bhalomanush – I am such a good soul) and that of a dictator (It´s all for your own good – tomar bhalor jonney bolchi). Khokon’s void gave Mashima an evangelist’s mission …… neighbourhood espionage – each budding romance was sniffed out and snuffed out with police state efficiency.
Mashima was the Neighbourhood Watch.
Mashima, our very own anachronistic Delphic Oracle. She sensed doom whenever we went “wrong”…. all the precise moments when we followed our dreams.
Mashima´s spouse – the eternal Tommy….. Almost missed a mention, like in life.
Mr. Silenced. Mr. Provider. Mild mannered, with an engineering degree from the UK, he actually had a voice, a sensible one at that. One observed when he was allowed to speak on those genial, Godsend rare moments. When Mashima was too distracted to clamp him down with her operatic opinions. Uncle Tommy was a philosopher by default.
Mashima was a Nuclear Threat.
She had our mothers under her sway, with her lethal nuclear weapon – “what will people say” (Loke ki bolbe)
Mashima was Apocalyptic.
Mashima spewing romance, to our imagination, was like reading from the crypt. But – lo and behold – Mashima was La- Belle….. with a lover or two tucked away carefully under the debauched (non-related) Dada (elder brother) blanket.
Mashima was Eve.
….. but the apple was forbidden to all relevant age appropriate candidates.
Mashima was a Chastity Belt…
…… and kept Cupid at bay.
Time ran it’s marathon. We grew up and moved to different corners of the globe in search of our dreams, realized out madnesses and bloomed in anonymity.
We nurtured our precious Kolkata, our fetish for fish (maach) and sweets (mishti) and our beloved Tagore without the censure of our Dams sans Merci – Mashima……
……….till Rasa Vibhatsam unfurled its head, courtesy Mark Zuckerberg.
Mashima had found her third eye…her forum…FACEBOOK.
Poetic injustice at its very best….. “Who is X, why does he like all your posts?” “Who is Y, is she having an “apphaire”?” “You are dancing everywhere, when do you cook for your “phamily?” All amidst the 30th selfie of Mashima posted within four days, followed by her now geriatric “laabhars” eulogising on her timeline.
Mashima is Back……
And we shall all live unhappily ever after.
Mashima is a Face-booker!!
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