LIFE IS a log. And that’s not because every moment lived gets recorded by someone somewhere.
LOG. These three letters have followed me since birth, with or without any of their compatriots from a-z prefixed. Or a string of letters suffixed.
Dad once said my first cooked meal came from a kharir choolo, which in Bengali means a firewood-stove. Khari is a fraction of a log, chopped to feed an earthen oven.
In the 1960s, before Pay Commission became a household name, kerosene stoves were elitist. And my father had a take-home of Rs 120 ($2.5 today), just about enough for a married central government employee to survive in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh town.
He was a champion chopper. One of a dozen children of parents displaced by Partition, he had to slave for a kin to fund his education. Fetching logs from the market and chopping them down to size was a chore he couldn’t refuse. He had to carry on even after the axe accidentally landed on his right foot, clipping off two toes.
The man with nine toes – considering a pair of half digits makes one – was determined to get a toehold in the ethnically volatile world around. He sLOGged to make our lives better, and would often say slog separated men from the boys who slept like logs.
Because he toiled, we – my sister and I – went to convent schools. Assam’s capital Guwahati in the 1970s had the lone for-boys-only convent school where many baba-LOGs or pampered sons of the rich studied.
Minus mathematics, school was fine. Though I went on to enjoy BODMAS – this acronym is phonetically similar to the Assamese word meaning goon or baddie – I just could not digest the LOGarithm chapter.
Half a mile from my school, Don Bosco, is Fancy Bazaar, the commercial hub of Northeast India. And I invariably had to go there on weekends or Sundays, for Guwahati in those days didn’t have the next-door grocers or vegetable vendors.
My preferred route to Fancy Bazaar was the one alongside LOG (It wasn’t until my 40th year that I learnt it expanded to Lalchand Onkarmal Goenka) High School. I had no emotional attachment with this school. It just happened to be on the road where Kelvin Cinema – it used to screen the latest Hollywood fares – was sited. And it was – still is – bang opposite Bharatiya Jalpan, which offers the yummiest sweetmeats in Guwahati.
The road, until its makeover a few years ago, was best avoided after heavy showers. Perennially cLOGged drains there – Guwahati’s chronic ailment – accentuated the waterLOGging problem.
The journey from school to college was colorful. Blame it on color TVs that began seducing India around that time, dishing out engrossing family shows like Hum LOG. We didn’t realize then that it was preparing the base for the saas-bahu serials to come.
When we thought we had enough of TV came the era of LOG-ins. It has been difficult to LOG-out since.
Life, thus, will be a log. bLOG.
Until, of course, it’s time for my sons to place me on a pyre of chopped logs (hope the electric incinerators work by then).