Memories of living in Big House in Chhotta Simla Simla in early Seventies
The picture of Chhotta Simla Post-office, posted in the group, brought rushing in the memories of a much lonely life in a big house. Didn’t I crave for a big house to live in while I dreamed of big curtains, and wide open windows while cuddled safely in the warmth of a small cozy house in the lanes of Lower Bazaar!!! I always had envied my friends living in houses on and around the Mall. To top it all, the residence on the upper storey of the Chhotta Simla Post-office was very big, having a wide open verandah towards the front opening towards Mall stretch and a narrow gallery, running from one end to the other, at the rear end. While walking from the Mall side there were two flights of stairs to get inside. The one at the entry were wide wooden stairs with wooden railing culminating at a small square which had a small store to hoard coal and wood for the Angithee. Another stairs opened up to the kitchen. And yet another stairs which is shown in the picture were from the Chhotta Simla side opening to the Washroom. I was captivated by all the three flight of stairs reaching up to the house that remained our residence for perhaps 2-3 years.
And the best was that just like the Chaura Maidan Post-office residence, this, too, was situated on the long stretch of the Mall. This was a blessing indeed as though lonely I was but never alone. I would be peeping from behind the windows, moving the curtains a little, wide enough to look out. And within no time I came to recognise people rushing hurriedly towards the Secretariate in the morning, the office-going crowd and stylishly attired leisurrly strolling Chhotta Simla gentry inching towards the Mall in the evening.
Whenever I would have free time, these windows became my companion. I came to recognise some beautiful faces and would rather wait for them, every evening.
There was a postal colony just adjacent to our redidence and I had the good company of Indu and Kiran, my friends since childhood. We all would stand behind the curtains to peep at people. To be true I was introduced to many of those fashionable creatures, albeit, vicariously, by my these two friends who already had developed this pastime.
Thus is how I came to know one who, I was told, had Firoza Begum as her name. Though still not sure about the name. Just like the beautiful name, the owner of the name was beauty personified. Every single evening she would glide past our home in excusite silk saree. Her long black, loosely braided hair, would fall below her waistline. With centre parting of her hair, her face would be covered sideways with her locks. And how we waited for her with abated breaths. So much so that the perfume she used would waffle through the air to herald her evening walk. She was beautiful. We never got to hear her voice as we admired her from behind the windows. I had literally forgotten about her when U left Simla in 1977.
So it was a pleasant surprise when I saw her on the Mall some 10 years ago. She was still beautiful..aged but beautiful. I am a person who has to compliment anything that captures my fine sense of aesthetics and I had to tell her how she was an idol for young girls in ChottavSimla.
As I, too, had matured into a woman and was comfortable with myself so I walk to her and smling at her said, “I admired you so much when I was young!!” And added, ” you are still the same!” Taken aback but pleasantly surprised she gave a broad smile. I told her how we waited for her to pass by our house so that we could see her sarees, her makeup and her long black braid!!!
We talked for a while and bid adieu to each other with a promise to meet again…and walked away….both happy in their own way!!