With passage of days, layers of dust descend “silently” upon the top of the refrigerator, spiders come up with webs in the ceiling corner, newspapers of past few days pile up here and there and similar “untidy” things happen perhaps due to lethargy or paucity of time! So come Saturday/Sunday, it’s time to clean up! As the mess yields place to cleanliness and order, instantly a dignified saintly face is bound to emerge in the consciousness. Though she remains an unforgettable personality, but flow of time and augmentation of newer pressure from all sectors have transported her to sub-conscious mind. Yes, many a times indeed she comes if particular incidents/memories get provoked; but religiously she is bound to appear when the dirtiness and chaos gets defeated through cleanliness and order.
Her official recognition remains the mother of one of my dear colleagues. I met her first time when I visited their residence one morning. It was late January or early February. Though the winter is set to depart, still a nip was still in the air. And in my “youthful exuberance”, I had already quit the sweater. Immediately after our formal introduction, the first thing the then septuagenarian lady uttered in stern tone — “Why have you not worn any warm garment? This is not correct”! Simply I got stunned by this most unexpected statement from a lady with whom I have just got introduced!
This type of warm rebuke can be fully expected from anybody who knows me since years! But this lady does so within a couple of minutes of introduction! Can anybody be so affectionate and homely with 100% care and selfless concern for all! As if she knows me personally since years or right from my birth! I realised that this lady is indeed somebody special and unique!
Not to forget the anecdote during my second visit to her home as well! Just like my first visit, I brought along few chocolates for the kid of my colleague. As I handed it to him, she made it known in a hushed tone that I should not bring chocolates for the kid henceforth as it is not good for him! What a straight talk! Since I am always a practitioner of calling spade the spade, I also love to see when others play the cricket of life in a straight bat. But the matter which had moved me the most is her honest approach or delivery of the statement which clearly renders the message but without hurting my sentiments! After all concern for all remained her topmost or only priority!
Within 2-3 visits, I got fully acquainted of her extremely liberal and open mindset absolute free of all feudalistic or negative thoughts. No criticism against all and sundry. No complaints. No sigh or repentance(though just like all, she also had her share of problems in life). No utterance or facial expression of frustration. No speaking ill of others. No order, no direction in domestic duties. Rather taking the cudgel herself and walking the talk. Moreover she was well acquainted with recent affairs around the world. A connoisseur of literature music and fine arts. Struck by wanderlust; not necessarily through physical travel, but mostly through travelogues. A liberal progressive woman residing above all petty boundaries of caste creed race religion nation as well as free from all silly superstitions. The society treats “elitism” with “family background” or “status of the spouse”! Even if she had been “elite” according to the sense of the society, it hardly matters neither to me nor to her. But she was definitely elite through her cultured refined taste values behaviour and liberal attitude towards life and the world.
She was positive to the word P. When she was hospitalised following age-related ailments; far from expressing her unbearable pain or craving to hear any compassionate words, she used to warmly greet the visitors and enquire about the well-being of all(as if the latter are in tensed situation)!
Now where lies the relationship between cleanliness and the graceful lady! Actually she used to always remain spotlessly clean — be it in her simple attire, bed sheet or bookshelf. In the small balcony adjoining her room, she planted plants and flowers imparting a beautiful fragrance and colourful sight to the immediate surrounding. Perhaps this spirit of “Cleanliness is Godliness” was the main reason behind her attainment of such a divine height full of inner joy, happiness, calm and poise. So whenever my corner of the house gets a fresh look after operation clean-up, inevitably her face emerges from nowhere!
However her relevance can be attained to the full in my life only when I will succeed in removing the cobwebs not only from the premises of my flat; but from my mind as well.
After all she was squeaky clean not only in external front, but also in her embedded thoughts and action as well! Indeed she had done perfect justice to the Sanskrit word ‘LABANYA’ — incidentally her name.