Growing up, memories unfold. Early morning hush, I remember mom’s hot sizzling chai, Parle G cookies, (not cookies as the new-gen calls them now), crisp and crusty toast smeared with Amul butter, getting ready for school, backpack on the shoulder, and rushing out to the bus stop to catch the school bus. How can I forget my big round chunky glasses with my eyeballs sticking out trying to capture the world. My short boy cut hair, which I thought made me look really chic, along with the long, perfectly creased, fully covered tunic lower than the knees with shining and polished black shoes. Well, that was the prim and proper dress code, no escape. Chitter chatter on the bus, but I had my science textbook in my hands, precisely Organic Chemistry, trying to cram the equations, which I never got the hang of! Trying to nail down each step in my brain, after all, I had to ace my test.
Back home and mom’s fresh homemade lunch with roti, sabzi, daal, raita, and fruit, not forgetting achaar (to date, I cannot eat without the spice element in my food ). Finish up homework, prepare for any upcoming tests, and off to spend some time outdoors. Chupan chupai, kho kho, pithoo, all those unforgettable games we used to play and how we used to cheat, creating quarrels as though we were on a battleground! Whoa, the electricity just cuts off; yay, more time to play now!
Dad coming back home on his Bajaj scooter, helmet on his head, briefcase on the side, which slowly progressed to the gray Ambassador, green Fiat, and finally the sleek and silky blue Maruti. Chai time again, with the maid in the kitchen helping mom getting the dinner ready. Being a family of six, we had a simple rule, all sit at the table and enjoy the simple yet luxurious sumptuous meal.
Entertainment time on weekdays was Doordarshan channel, Krishi Darshan, news, and how much I used to wait for Wednesday to watch my favorite Bollywood music program Chitrahar. Sunday was a decadent brunch, mom massaging the head with coconut oil, and the entire family flocked to see the episode of Ramayana and Mahabharata. There was absolute pin-drop silence in the neighborhood, not even the sabziwaala screaming on top of his lungs, as all were glued to the remoteless television.
The picture on the right/below–I can still visualize us four siblings sitting on the second-floor balcony, having our heart to heart conversations, not keeping track of the clock and its constant reminders to ease the night, settle in and not run against time.
Dining out and shopping was a rare treat on the weekends, it never crossed the mind as we were content in our cozy homes. However, a trip to Nirula’s for their mouth-watering toothy ice cream, delectable pizzas, and juicy burgers has surely left a strong mark on my taste buds. Late-night idle talks in our balcony, peeling oranges and munching them away under the stars used to be the highlight for us siblings sharing our most hidden secrets like digging skeletons in the closet.
Summer vacations were super long and boring, but we never complained or whined. Did we have options? Not really! Warm sultry days, getting up late, filling up our bellies with all the fatty greasy parathas, mango milkshake, reading, crafting, filling up the cooler with a bucket full of water, spending weeks with cousins and grandparents, and land up coming back home with some cash in our pockets secretly given by uncles and aunts. Those were some classic days that have left durable imprints on our hearts.
Fast forward, life has become very fast-paced where we are racing against time. We have so much, yet our platter is hollow and barren. We have a brain chock full of knowledge yet judge over and above. Skyscrapers touching the sky, funneled with highways, speeding cars yet tunneled and narrow thinking. Money in our pockets yet mind boggles shoving out for charity. Meditative centers to cleanse our disturbed soul, yet the mind is anguished and disquieted. Computers, internet, social media, automobiles, jets, remotes yet at a sluggish pace crawling towards an inconsequential life. Social elements are reaching their peak yet no authentic relationships to latch on.
Where did we go wrong? Did we forget what this universe had gifted us? Did we get sidetracked? Did the wheels get off the tracks? What happened after all? Love, peace, harmony, passion, accord, devotion, empathy, and tolerance seem to have been forever lost in between the cracks.
COVID-19 strikes, lockdown happens and we all are quarantined. Life takes a dramatic and theatrical turn. We get discombobulated with baffled feelings. One week at home may become months with a divergent lifestyle which we never imagined. The universe has reminded us of our deep roots and has given us a prodigious reminder to wake up! Open your eyes!
Flash Back, I am reminded of my time growing up as an ideal family. Musing over, reminiscing the old days gives me goosebumps as I am faintly aware where I went wrong, what I ignored in a blink, what I gave a cold shoulder to and what I was oblivious to with open eyes.
Cooking all day brings out the lost forgotten worldly chef in me, cleaning the mess, doing the extra pile of laundry makes me value my cleaners a lot more, unable to get myself pampered for my skin, hair, nails makes me comfortable looking at myself in the mirror, watching old television shows reminds me of the golden times enjoying with family, playing monopoly with my kids tells me I am not that old after all and taking long walks connects me with myself and the universe.
Is it worth it? Yes absolutely!
Just watching the kids bond, listening to their boisterous chats, resolving their tantrums, getting those extra cuddly social distance hugs, sipping the perfect Dalgona hot coffee in my most treasured cup made by my daughter, sending an angry late-night text to my son like a lunatic mom to lower his volume while playing video games in the middle of the night and turning off the kitchen lights after the midnight snacks only make me smile mutely! I am as silent and still as a mouse, but my heart has a surge of powerful and turbulent emotions. These are not normal times, but I am normal after the latent periods of me burying my head in the sand.
Will this earth heal? Most definitely! Will the path of life change? Yes, it will for some and maybe not for some. Latch on to these priceless memories, which are worth as a king’s ransom, don’t let them melt away without a trace.
Life will revert soon, but will we be normal, the new normal, or succumb to the disguised us again? Think about it!
The picture above—‘This beautiful tree, which was a sapling once, has grown into a towering tree radiating it’s warmth and shade to all with such poise and grace, a humble reminder to always be humble‘