Curzon Cottage Simla….my abode in Simla in the year 2009-10

Curzon Cottage Simla….my abode in Simla in the year 2009-10

The year was 2009 and I was out of job…not anymore a teacher at NIT Hamirpur. It was as if my entire identity was snatched away from me….so cruelly! The “system” wanted to see me defeated…broken and shattered!

But God had another plan ready for me and within a week I joined IIAS as a Fellow. And for the first time in my life I had got a “house of my own” in Simla and that, too, on campus of Advanced Studies… my own house, as it was allotted in my name. I moved to the ground floor of the beautiful cottage, Curzon House. It was a quaint and cozy house furnished with Raj period furniture, basic amenities down to beddings and linen!!  And above all the freedom of mind and soul…

I was bruised psychologically… having been in a battle with the authorities of my institute…the people who loved to call themselves “system”! I needed peace of mind. Though I had lost the battle against the “system” yet the war was still on!
Never had I thought of Simla, my Simla, as a recuperating place but now I could feel it….there was none other than Simla to heal my wounds. After the unfortunate showing off the door, unceremoniously, by my parent organization, my body, soul and spirit needed healing and God, Providence or fate decided it to be Simla for me!

One of my friends had sent me trilogy focusing on Law of Karma and now when I had come to Simla, a place I had left in 1977 for good….I believed there were some debts left to be paid with Simla and  people of Simla.

The whole ambience was having a therapeutic effect on my body and soul.  My body was at rest, my mind was at its best…The rich collection of books in the cavernous library would make me more and more excited to explore. I would go to the library in the morning, would look at the books lying on the tables left by some scholar the previous day…would leaf through them and Lo…would be immersed in reading on a whole lot of diverse topics!! I felt like a famished human being who was suddenly offered the most sumptuous of meals and she found it difficult to make a choice because everything looked so inviting. 

But my self-worth was at its lowest…I would shy away from meeting others. I was a loner. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about the stigmatic and unceremonious exit that I had faced. I was worried that no one would understand.  Would go straight to the library and walk down to Curzon cottage that had become my home!

The Fellows had the freedom to have their own working schedule, there being no binding on when and how to work. The only activity where we all were supposed to be present was the Weekly seminar on every Thursday. The seminar would be followed by high tea…. a much looked for informal get-together. The Director would introduce the newly joined Fellow to the others during high tea. But as I was so much conscious of the changed situation of my life I ran back to the safety of my new home after the weekly seminar. I was shy of meeting others. I was afraid of sharing my changed status with them.

How strangely we are programmed…we want to know everything about a person introduced to us and start with seemingly innocuous question, “What do you do?” And our assessment about that person depends upon the one answer the person may have. I was avoiding this question. I thought why is it necessary for everyone to do something…a job? Is it the only identity one has! And if it is…then I had lost my identity! I was lost…. lost in the darkness of my  own dark fears! It was just like Simla rains which bring about such torrential pours, with lightning and thunderstorms that would make me run to my small home in the Lower Bazaar. Something similar was happening in my life.

It was the month of July…Simla had started experiencing monsoon showers. Rains bring about a strange feel to Simla. It is dark and imposing when it rains but after the rain the roads, the trees and the roadside shrubs shine in a freshly cleaned glow. Everything would look fresh and clean after the shower. And when the sun spreads its golden rays in the evening after a light shower preceding it…..Simla looks divine! Every face shines bathed in golden hues of evening Sun. I would walk down to my home watching the enigma of nature. I would hurriedly prepare a cup of tea and while sipping it would think of all those people who might have lived in that house…..long, long time ago…during the Raj period! Would I have ever dreamed to occupy a house that was perhaps for some Raj period official of the Viceroy’s retinue?   Or to walk the corridors of the Viceroy’s office or to sit in the cavernous library where who-is-who of Simla would be invited for dancing balls etc. during the era of Viceregal splendor? The only thing constant in the world is change itself. And I was waiting for a change in my life!

And I would wait for the Sunshine to bring light; hope and warmth back to my life! The much awaited peaceful light after the storm. Simla being the place to offer me that Sunshine!

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