I still remember the three miles on a bicycle, seating on a small seat in front of my father. Now I know it was 24 October in the year 1960. A little calculation tells me that I was then six years old. We went to Ramnagar two days earlier. I did not understand why we were there but liked the rural ambiance… the huge expanse of paddy ground.. the sunflowers… the trees everywhere.. the Magnolia tree in front of the small bungalow. Huge playground not far from the house.. the smell of cooking of fresh chicken or hunted duck curry in the evening… the tube-well on the other side.. the blackberry and custard apple trees… the litchi tree, the olive and tamarind trees … the flowers.. the breeze.. the fresh air, clear moonlit sky far from the madding Calcutta crowd.
Papa told me that he would go somewhere a bit far from Ramnagar. I constantly went on requesting that I would like to be with him.
So, he tried to arrange some transport to accommodate me and finally managed to find a bicycle that has a small seat in the front. I was happy and took the ride with him on that little red baby seat. I remember there were quite a few others who were in the group and all on bicycles. It was a bumpy village road and too long for me on that uncomfortable seat. Still, I enjoyed the ride.. the only bicycle ride I ever had with my father!
I don’t clearly remember how Bado-Jatha [my uncle] joined us. Now I know that his presence was very important, he had to sign the gift deed on behalf of Dadu [grandfather]. He transferred the land to Papa’s name. I remember I saw Jatha [jathA] at Chandpara. He was there at the Sub-Registrar’s office. Jatha possibly reached there directly by train from Calcutta on the same day. I remember Arekta-Jatha [another uncle] came to the office with us. He was among us in the Ramnagar bicycle group.
Oh yes! I forgot to tell you what Ramnagar was. This was a name of a place that my Dadu owned. This was not far from the then Pakistan border at Bangaon. This was about three miles from Chandpara and two and a half-mile from Thakurnagar, the two close-by railway stations. This is now under the post office Ramchandrapur. Dadu [grandfather] purchased a piece of land during early 1940s or late 1930s. I hear that it was a stretch of 4000 bighas [1322.4 Acres or 532.2 hectare]. After Indian independence the government introduced land ceiling and he lost a large part of the land [He never received any compensation on that though!]. However, at one point the land area came to as little as around 6.5 acres and at that point Dadu decided to gift the land to my father. Now I can imagine, that too was not too small an area..
Back to the story and making the long story short, the land got transferred to Papa after the legal formalities and we all came back to Ramnagar.
I discovered that Gift-deed today lying in an old worn-out packet… Today is the 2012 May Day (01 May]. I thought digitization of the document is a good idea. So, I scanned the document and here it is for you.. It feels good to lay my hands over these old pieces of paper that no more possess the symbol of ownership. The land is still there but not with us… but the memory is still fresh and alive.. Enjoying the old memories!
My Dada [Mahiruha Shekhar Banerjee] called me after looking at the draft post and pointed out that Dadu actually purchased 1600 bighas [526.96 acre or 214.08 hectare] of land in the year 1935.