Almost every thursday, at the verandah of their house, at around tea time, five thirty usually, there would be a grand congregation of sorts. Nupur’s father, her uncle Sandipan, uncle’s friends Shaswata and Dipnarayan uncles, were the regular attendants. Her father and uncle, coming home from the shop at around 2 would take their lunch. Thursdays being ‘half days’, they had time to relax. They would either play chess or have a short nap, depending upon their mood. Her mother and aunt would either sew or talk about what happened to the families of the neighbourhood -the Ghoshs or Dasguptas or Sens etc till they would doze off.
But around five in the afternoon the maid would come and wake the whole house.
Nupur’s mother Malabika and aunt Sritoma would wake up and go to the kitchen. Jingling sounds of their bangles could be heard coupled with the mild tinkling of cups being washed and plates being put.
Nupur coming from school at twelve thirty, would take her lunch and lying on the bed would either draw or read a story book.
But on Thursdays, she would be absolutely eager for that adda.
At around five thirty uncle would go and sit on the verandah first.
The verandah , almost three feet wide and ten and half feet long was enough for people to sit and watch the goings on.
Overlooking the street, it had always something to offer. Either a rickshaw going away or a cab stopping and purring dropping passengers or a candy seller pushing his cart at fairly quick pace.
Nupur would go and play at one corner of the verandah. Her playthings were her dolls. She would arrange dolls and with her toy kitchen stuff would also cook foods for her dolls. Sometimes she would use pieces of vegetables from the kitchen as groceries for her toy kitchen. Sometimes her mother or aunt would provide her grains of flour. With water she would make a small dough and then on her toy-stove cook it. After few minutes she would serve whatever she had cooked to her dolls.
But on Thursdays, she would not be very busy with her toy-kitchen.
Instead, she would wait for her father, uncle and his friends to gather.
For they would have an adda of sorts.
What not they talked about?
It would usually start with Nupur’s father informing what the new arrivals were at their book store.Then uncle would tell which books he had read. If Shaswata uncle would turn up, he would talk about his experience at the office where a labour union trouble had broken out.
Dipnarayan uncle would be the one who would find humour in everything and his interludes were always of sheer laughter.
Father, who always appeared to be a bit grave, would even laugh at Dipnarayan uncle’s wit.
Then the tea would be sent by the maid.
While sipping tea,Nupur’s father would talk about the writings of an upcoming poet.
Soon uncle would talk about the rhyme variants used in a particular poem by that poet. Then Dipnarayan uncle would talk of variants being a big problem for him to tackle a mathematical equation.
Everyone would either snub Dipnarayan for being such an idiot to raise mathematical theorems in such an adda or they would laugh out.
Once Nupur heard a serious discussion on movies. Which kind of movies are superior. Hindi or Bengali or English.
Uncle and Dipnarayan were largely in favour of Bengali movies. They were naming classics one after another. Uncle being a born romantic almost lectured on the on-screen chemistry of Uttam-Suchitra. Shaswata uncle however thought Soumitra to be his choice of an actor.
Father would ask ‘what about actors like Dhritiman or for that matter Dustin Hoffman or Amitabh Bachchan or Marlon Brando?’
The topic would then go to movies in Bengali, Hindi and English. Everyone would keep citing their favourite films. If ‘Ashani Sanket’ was one’s favourite, another would say ‘The Godfather’ and then some would say no, nothing could possibly beat ‘The sound of music’. Then invariably there would be Dipnarayan uncle suddenly breaking out singing ‘Edelweiss’.
The adda would continue for hours.
The streetlights would get lighted and few more would gather. Father’s friend Animesh would come straight from his office with his bag dangling on his side.
‘Nupur, go and ask your mother or aunt to prepare something for Animesh uncle, he had come straight from office.’
Nupur would go to the hall where her mother and aunt would be watching a TV soap-opera /serial.
Often she would find their maid also sitting on the floor and watching the TV.
Their eyes glued to the happenings on screen. Her mother Malabika however had a strange intuition. She would turn to Nupur and would say smiling,’Yes…I know Animesh uncle has come…go and tell father that luchi and potato curry is being readied for all.’
Saying this mother would descend from the bed. Aunt would also nudge the maid so that she could also go to the kitchen.
Nupur would hurry down and inform the gathering about the supper spread.
Everyone would be delighted.
The adda by then had been turned into some technical jargons and doctrines.
For Nupur it was very difficult to understand but still all she heard got stored into her subconscious memory.
For example if she heard her father telling the gathering at the adda that the ‘Angry Young Movement’ was one of the reasons why movies like ‘Deewar’ got the box office hit, she would keep the phrase ‘angry young movement’ in her mind.
And then if she heard Animesh uncle corroborating her father by nodding his head vehemently and adding that John Osborne did the same in theatre with Jimmy Porter,Nupur would keep that in her mind.
Long after, when the adda would have ended and everyone would have gone home, Nupur would sit beside her father. Uncle and aunt perhaps then had gone out to the bazar to buy something.
Then she would ask ‘what is that Angry young thing?’
Father would guffaw.
Mother would look at father first, then to Nupur.
‘It must be something very bad…’
Mother would say.
Father would smile and then he would talk about someone called Jimmy Porter.
Mother would ask jocularly if that Porter worked in a railway platform.
There would be again a bout of laughter.
By that time uncle and aunt would probably return.
Uncle with a bag full of groceries and other items of daily use.
‘He used to play saxophone…’
Uncle would remark, immediately stepping into the hall, partly overhearing that Porter thing.
Then the family would be having an adda on variants of saxophone players till there would be the time for the dinner.
Nupur would sleep off thinking of another Thursday to come, for there would be another adda and many more interesting things to learn.