I was ten when I met you and fell in love with you instantly. It was the day I accompanied my grandmother while visiting someone in Kalinagar village in Jiribam India. You immediately captured my attention. You were so tiny and cute and playful.
I still remember on the way to Kalinagar just at the side of the sugar cane field something was going on. We could smell sweet and tingling hitting our nose. Grandmother asked me “ Do you want to drink something sweet?”
“I don’t know, is it good?”
“You can try”
So we turned toward the shade where the villagers were busy making brown sugar from sugarcane juice. Inside the ditch, logs of woods were kept burning. On top of the fire is the large tin container for boiling the sugarcane juice until it was solidified into Jaggary ( brown colored sugar). The woman who was among those villagers handed me an earthen cup containing the hot sugarcane juice . It was very good.
Then when we came toward Tomba’s house that was when we passed your gate and saw you following Moina the girl who just got water from the pond in front of her house. (Moina had the hair cut of a bang on the forehead and on two sides of her cheeks covered cut to chin length. That was the sign those days, in our custom to show that the girl was now of marriageable age.) Moina just got her pitcher filled with water from the pond and ready to go inside her house, my grandmother called her name.
“Moina , how are you doing?”
Moina turned her face and smiled and answered, “ Oh ---------where are you going to, Aigyabok?” she asked, responding to my grandmother. (Agyabok means grandma with respect)
“Going to Tomba’s house, we’re wondering about that little thing following you?”
“Yes I found it when it was very small and lost its parents”
“ So cute” I said.
Moina then asked me “ Do you want to have it?” I couldn’t believe my ears.
“Yes, yes” I shouted with excitement and looked at my grandmother anxiously waiting for her response. She seemed surprised at the unexpected outcome. The asked Moina, “What do you feed a squirrel?”
“Give her some corn and nuts, also fruits.”
Later we came to know Moina the girl who took care of you was to be married soon. So she wanted you to have someone who will take care of you. She put you in your wooden box with some rags in it for you to sleep. You didn’t cry or try to run away. Your fur so soft and fluffy tail, how I enjoyed touching it. You didn’t mind and played with me. Since that day you had been my constant companion for nearly one year.
That was seven decades ago that I met you and lost you one day without any warning. The terrible day you were crushed under the foot of the 180 lb weight of our dear guest. He was unaware of your habit of following people in the house and he stepped on you accidentally. The shocked moment made me cry for days and I could never forget you.
This year 2012 during winter months, a couple of squirrels made their nest between the roof and ceiling of our house facing backyard , bringing all the strings from the nylon umbrella which turned into pieces ultimately becoming their nest. One of the couple always stood looking toward our kitchen expecting some food. Because we had stopped feeding birds and it was mainly their source of food. It stood as if asking us why no bird feeds? We felt pity on it and gave cashew nuts and ground nuts and became its regular waiting schedule sometimes even knocking on the glass door. When Spring came it disappeared suddenly and never came back. I felt sad again bringing the memory of my beloved Nilu of my childhood days. So it is to let you know that I always miss you and can never forget you, my beloved Nilu.
Your friend, Jamuna