There's a very tenuous link between insanity and sanity . My boro pishi Beli was very beautiful and given to the luxuries of life like fine sarees ( I have a few) and velvet mules and imported perfumes and cosmetics ( snow powder ?). Now Beli had been married at 12 and was a widow by 14 because her crook of a father in law had not told my grandfather that his son was on his last legs - with what I never could fathom out , despite my wicked ferreting ways as a child , and those who could tell me are all dead and gone , except Mili who's in her second childhod and far far away , both geographically and in her mind ...but I did glean this , she married a second time , this time , a widower with 2 daughters , he was a zamindar 's son with their ancestral house at Jongsherpur (??) and his mother would not allow her to have a child - since she was a widow and therefore maybe not a virgin (this was in the early 40s maybe) . So evertime Beli was pregnant her mother in law drugged her and got the dai to abort the foetus . She did this thrice before Mili got wise to what was going on and raised Cain . But by then the psyche , a little brittle perhaps had started to crumble ...she died mad in Lumbini Park many years later ... because her husband was dead and she was psychotic and it was not safe to keep her in a house which had kids ...
Shefali was scatty and glamorous and beautiful and hopelessly in love with one of the Panth boys who was a pilot ( he was another mad bugger, but thats another story ) - he used to fly his VTs over her house and drop flowers and scatty Shefali who never poured herself a glass of water so long she was in Dada's house had to sit with a ghunghat up to her belly button, rolling endless chapatis in Hari's mother's house - that was till Mili went, saw her and raised Cain (of course Mili raised Cain in her Mom in law's house, too). From rolling out of shape chapatis to giving birth to Khuku/Niru and then upping and dying suddenly, leaving a host of beautiful memories behind like heaps of rose petals ... that was Shefali. Indelible marker memories in her brothers' sisters' and mother's minds who filled my childhood with talk about Shefali, so that when I used to pore over her mother's Joy-scented photographs (yes Moni ma used to keep an open bottle of Joy in her trunk in one corner, I swear that trunk still smells of Joy after all these years) and open her copy of some poetry book,( forget the name, but it had a blue leather cover and was a longman's edition, pristine without ever a pencil scratch (which means she only mooned about Hari all the time)) I used to imagine I knew her.
My second pishi Mili was like Jo of Little Women. She looked after the house, and her assorted brothers, one younger sister and the older one, Beli. She married Pishamoshai who was the best Pisha anyone could ever have - I adored him, my husband adored him, and my girls loved him.
All of them were a bit wonky, that's what AG says - but they were terrific, brave people - all the men handsome and charming, all the women ,beautiful, - all with a tenuous hold on reality - one died young, one died in Lumbini Park, hopelessly insane and the other is old and frail, far far away, still guarding whatever memories she has and living in them far away from reality ... because that is all she has now that everyone is dead. Wherever you all are and that includes you, Ma, I'm raising a toast ... Prosit!