I was skimming through the newspapers while waiting for the food to warm up in the office microwave when my eyes fell on a bunch of calendars with the departmental name and logo neatly imprinted. And while my food warmed, I was transformed back to my childhood days for the next couple of minutes, to be interrupted only by the beep of the microwave.
Calendars. Diaries. Every January saw our homes piled up with these two things. In fact, I am still fond of collecting diaries, and it broke my heart to leave dozens of them never written on back at home when I moved here. But calendars are a different thing altogether. It used to be great watching the old ones from the walls vanish, to be replaced by new pictures. The worship room had that single paged huge Dey’s medical calendar every Bengali home wall must have had. The holiday dates would be marked in red, with the huge cross logo right in the middle of the page. And then every neighborhood mistanna bhandar (sweet shop) used to gift the usual smaller calendars with the photo of Ma Kali. The designs, photos, and the fonts changed every year, but the subject always remained the same- either Ma Kali, Thakur Ramkrishna Paramhansa, or Baba Loknath.
But then, dad used to get a totally different kind of calendar from his workplace. Scenery. Birds and flowers and bees. Great photography. Pics of sea coasts and sunsets and the ripples on the water. The picture of a bee on a flower with every yellow and black stripe on the bee’s abdomen distinct. Then there were snow mountains and forests. Those were the kinds where at the end of the year, I took a pair of scissors and went snip snip, cutting all the pictures I liked and collecting them neatly. Not Ma Kali or Baba Loknath, but pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the Florida beaches and the jungles of Africa. What more, they made excellent paper to cover books. So while I hated history in school, I made sure that the best pic of my favorite flower was used to cover the history text book. I guess that kind of made me less averse to touching my book every day.
The one I was holding in the office kitchen had every message written all over it- about conserving forests and protecting nature and aiming for a cleaner environment. Who uses calendars these days by the way? With the advent of mobile phones and Google calendars, who even needs to flip through the pages of a calendar to see what day was it the 15th of the last month?
But then, even now when I see a stack of free calendars somewhere, the heart somersaults in joy and the hand feels like picking up a copy for myself. They never really make their way to the walls, they just get lost somewhere in between the pile of books and newspapers. But somehow, someway, it brings back all the childhood excitement of flipping through the pages, to find one new picture every month. The only difference is, I no longer collect or hold on to the pictures at the end of the year. I just go get myself a new calendar.