Devotees celebrate during Durga Puja festival (File) Image Credit: ANI

As we advance in age, the bag of our memories grows bigger and bigger. Our experiences, our interactions, our deeds, our misdeeds, our successes and our failures — all find a place in that bag.

If we close our eyes and sit in silence for a while, we tend to detect various sounds coming out of this bag. Sounds that are intimately related to each event in the days gone by. The sound of grandfather’s walking stick as he put one measured step after another; the sound of his false teeth when he tried to talk fast — left us giggling and we coaxed him to continue and he obliged — he did. The sound of his “Ouch” as he tried to straighten his arthritic legs left us in pain as well.

The sound of laughter as the whole family chatted away, the sound of titbits made to be enjoyed during the chit chat — seems to ring in the ears even now. The taste seems to linger at the back of the throat. The distinct sound that happiness can have is an experience worth having. It is not that any major event sparked it, but it was always there. The sound of a restful sleep renders peace all around. And of course the sound of grandmother’s snores!!! We laughed and the sound we tried to imitate made us laugh out loud.

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Then there was the sound of “ooh” and “aah” when my aunt came home with her newborn. A pink bundle I called him. The sound of his croonings and gurgles are music to my ears still.

There was an iron gate that had to be opened before one could reach out for the bell to enter the house. Each one of us had a way of opening the iron door and I could differentiate and say who was about to ring the bell. When studies were not properly done, Father’s sound of opening the iron door sent a tremor.

Grandpa and Grandma opening the door was a most wonted sound. It almost always meant something was on its way — a bar of chocolate, a bag of peanuts or a packet of the most-loved cream biscuits. Uncle’s sound meant story time was not far away. Mother and Aunt coming back home meant we had to get our act together.

The sound of our overflowing tank from the roof always made us run to the windows. We watched with glee as the water fell all the way down, spluttering and sparkling. Our very own Niagara Falls, we called it. And the distinct sound of Father saying “waste waste” — we simply nodded, not understanding.

Sound of the evening breeze

The sound of the evening breeze as it blew rustling the leaves and carrying the scent of the flowers were always a great relief, especially when there was a power cut. Funny as we think now, but quite dreadful back then, anyone climbing the stairs during a power cut seemed to deliver ominous sounds. It seemed heavy, even evil!

Then came the sound of festivals and the sound of new clothes being taken out of their boxes. The sound of prayers being offered, the sound of the drums and the bells — oh! how we longed for them. It meant a non-routine few days filled with laughter, travel, eating, being naughty (which was purposely overlooked) and pure fun.

Such and so many more sounds — some which may have been forgotten — again may suddenly crop up fills the memory bag. Some of these sounds have been silenced by time forever, some have changed their tunes. Some have taken new waves and tends to bridge the background with the present. But they continue to be so very precious. It ties us to who we are, by reminding us as to who we were.

We continue to advance. Our bag becomes accommodative and keeps collecting. New sounds are added to the background. Suddenly, when the bag releases a memory we smile, laugh out and shake our heads, sometimes maybe somberly for what is not anymore.

But background sounds are music to my ears, for it is the sound of love, of care, of surity and of security.

Mamata Bandyopadhyay is a homemaker based in Dubai.