I twitched my nostril twice. First to my left and then to my right. Then with my right hand I pumped in the empty air. A jump. A tug. The portal had opened. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to drift in the psychedelic light. Tiny shapes fluttered around. Red. Blue. Black. Some rod shaped. A few ribbon like. My lips stretched to form a smile. The best part of the journey was coming. It was right at the corner.
Time stopped. Then it turned. Hesitated for a fraction of a second and began spooling backward. Too rapidly first but then with the laziness of a summer afternoon. I saw tiny windows with images moving behind the shutters. Experience had taught me that I could select any of these windows and enter it. Time played once I had stepped into the scene. I could walk around and relive the scene as it unfolded. Nobody could see me or hear me. I was a ghost, a figment. But I got to experience the time again just like the first time. Better perhaps for there was no suspense lurking at any of the bends.
I chose a window now. Durga puja. Shaptami. A Sunday, unfortunately. I didn’t like any of the five days of the puja to coincide with a Sunday. It meant huge loss in terms of home-made food. But that particular Sunday Shaptami had been different. Dad had returned from service after several months. Mom wanted to compensate for all the missed time. She got herself busy in the kitchen. It was her way of romancing Dad.
The present me smiled as the past me sneaked into the kitchen. I had been around ten then. All gangly and bones. I sniffed the aroma of Mutton Biriyani. Mom’s Sunday special. It hit my sensory organs and titillated my nose. I twitched my nostril twice. A touch. A tug. The portal was fast dissolving around me. Bright light.
“No you don’t. You don’t just march into my kitchen with your eyes screwed shut, sniffing the air like a dog and with those dirty shoes still on your feet,” I heard my Mom say as she screwed my ear mercilessly.
“But Ma, I’m hungry.”
“Clean yourself first and then sit down at the dining table. Wait like the others. And aren’t you ashamed of your behavior? You’re a father. When will you grow up for real?”
Within minutes I had washed and changed. I joined my son at the table.
“Sunday Mutton Biriyani,” my son beamed as the food was served.“Nah! Time-turner,” I whispered as I dug into the warm comfort of spices.
© Jonali Karmakar