A Date with the Calendar
A date with the calendar
I grew up with the quintessential vel murugan (Lord Kartik for the less enlightened) calendar. It hung majestically on the largest wall in every room of the sprawling Iyer mansion. Then times changed. The mansion shrunk to a one BHK in a remote suburb of the very happening Bombay. But the vel murugan calendar continued to adorn the wall. I remember it distinctly. It was made of cardboard. A glorious Murugan, with sparkling eyes and rose buds for lips smiled from it. His vel (spear) shone brightly by his side. Below the image hung a stack of thin white paper on which was printed the date in large black typeface. I remember it vividly because it was my duty to wake up in the morning and tear off the past. I was in-charge of heralding the new morning. This action was extremely symbolic…it created a long-lasting impression in my life.
But that was not the only calendar in the household. New Year’s time was calendar time. My siblings and I would gather around Appa when he brought home the office diary and calendar. Each of us would take turns to pore over the glossy images on the calendar. Then, the next thing we always did was check the days on which our birthdays would arrive that year.
Amma had her own favourite calendar for the kitchen. Mutthu grocery and general stores always gifted their patrons with this ‘practical’ calendar, as she called it. It not only told her the date she was on, but also gave very pertinent information on when was amavasya, and other Hindu or lunar month details.
My Mama loved the calendar, but he was not Mutthu’s patron. There have been several afternoons in the early days of the year, when I have mutely witnessed the altercation between Amma and Mutthu for an extra calendar. He always grumblingly relented. Mama would then visit in the evening to collect the prized possession. In turn, he would bestow his brotherly love on Amma with a string of mallipoo (jasmine flowers) which she would gracefully tie around her hair at the nape of her neck.
The Bombay Dyeing Calendar was the most sought after. My second Mama worked with Bombay Dyeing and his visit home in the first week of January signalled the arrival of the much coveted Lisa Ray in a bathrobe, Lisa Ray in a flowing georgette, Lisa Ray and the green-eyed Karan Kapoor sipping coffee as their eyes met over the rim of the cup…so much oomph! The Bombay Dyeing Calendar was the fountain of all my girlie fantasies.
The arrival of this calendar also signalled a lot of bickering and chiding at home. Amma wouldn’t have any vulgar displays in the hall. “Chee”! would be her monosyllabic outburst. Appa would shrug non-chalantly, and eventually after a glare from Amma’s charcoal eyes, quietly enrol into her camp. Many arguments later, Lisa Ray would hang seductively from a wall behind the door in the inner room.
But, the point I am making is that we grew up with calendars.
Today, the only calendar that is top-of-mind is the Kingfisher calendar. And if you tell me that you own one for quick date reference, I would at once say you are warped, you are wired differently… you are…
Anyway, I haven’t seen a Kingfisher calendar adorn walls in anyone’s homes!! Adorn dreams? Well, maybe.
The lowly calendar from my childhood years is fast retreating into oblivion. It does not even make a guest appearance in Bollywood, anymore. There is no coughing-the-lungs-out Nirupa Roy striking off dates on a depressing calendar as she counts the coins in her sweaty palm. Neither do we have an eye twitching Lalita Pawar tear a calendar off the wall even as the heroine counts off dates of separation from her beloved.
Blackberry, mobiles, Facebook, have wiped the calendar off the wall. Sad? I really don’t know…
We are two days into 2012. This morning, I received a slim long calendar in a white envelope from the snack corner near my office. He’s a brave man…is it his audacity, no sorry, his humility, no sorry, his ignorance (yeah, that’s better) that makes him spend money on printing calendars? In any case, I don’t know what to do with it. Aha! I will pass it on to my ma-in-law…I am sure at 75, she still has a soft corner for calendars.
What? She turned it down! It doesn’t go with the décor in her room, she says! “Aaj kal calendar kaun lagaata hai beta”, she scoffed at my offer. Disappointed, I trudged into my son’s room, the calendar hooked on my index finger. He gave me a dirty look as I treaded cautiously over the wires of his guitar. Finally, as my frantic last resort, I turned, calendar still hooked around my finger, towards my cook. “Mere ghar mein wallpaper laga hua hain…mujhe nahi chahiye,” she said with a firmness that is wont of cooks and maids.
So, here I am, stuck with the calendar. Kal tha calendar, aaj hain shamshaan ke andhar. Sigh!