That was the summer we had the most fun. We played through the hot and sticky afternoons, the fiery Indian sun beating down at us. Our mothers did their best to keep us inside the house, so we could be safe from the heat and the tropical diseases that were doing their rounds in Rampore. (Rampore is a small cantonment town in
and my father was posted
But we were a bunch of small children, who loved to play. And we would sneak out when our mothers were taking their siestas and our ayahs busy with other work. We’d play under the big mango tree at the edge of the mansion grounds. Made-up games that kept us cheerful in spite of the insufferable heat. We played till we were found and brought home for a good scolding.
But that summer was a short one for me. All of a sudden I couldn’t talk to my parents and two brothers. I could no longer live in the mansion or play with my friends. It was as if they couldn’t see me any more. All they did was cry and mope around. I waited under the mango tree, wishing that my little brothers would stop crying and come out to play with me. But they never did.
Soon, my family left the house and went away...to
where my granny lived. And I was left
I still visit the mango tree and our old house. The tree is larger now than it was…the house, old and crumbling, with bats living among the shambles. But now I spend a lot of time at the little cemetery in the cantonment. It’s a quaint place with old grave stones and long grass. Wild flowers cover the ground, making it look like a playing field for lost angels. I’ve got another friend to keep me company – another little girl, who died that summer. We play the same games we played that summer and wish we weren't left behind
'The Spirits of the British Era - story 1' - story and art by Chandana Banerjee