Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Nostalgia is a strange play-mate.. you never know when it is going to accost you and insist on taking you down memory lane...
Most of the times you can anticipate its arrival -
* When its festival time in India (almost every month, you might say ! ) and you are at work, in a different country , in a different time zone, yearning to be with friends and family who are merrily celebrating
* When you talk to your parents on the phone
* When you get together with friends to celebrate an occasion
Sometimes, you wont see it coming, but you can sense it gently taking your hand and leading you away -
* When you see the parents of your friends ; softspoken , bespectacled , tolerant, loving and probably balding fathers and vivacious, enthusiastic , gently smiling , laughing mothers who remind you of your own much-loved and much-missed parents
* When you see another family, going cycling together or playing tag in the front yard , or taking their dog for a walk, or just having dinner together in a restaurant
* When you see a football / basketball game in progress with vehement and boisterous spectators, you remember cricket matches in the past which you ardently watched with your family and friends
And oftentimes it takes you by surprise, striking you out of the blue and yanking you into days past. It was Monday morning and I was filling up my van with gas, on my way to my son's school and then on to work. I hadnt had my morning cup of coffee yet and would have been termed almost bleary eyed if it hadnt been for the fact that I had showered and was dressed
for work. It was a new week and a new day and I was looking forward to it , but not just then.
Out of nowhere, I heard a sound that I hadnt heard in a long time ...Caw Caw ...the shrill , often racuous cawing of the common black crow ! (I dont know if there is a paucity of crows in the city where I live or it just doesnt penetrate my conscious hearing, but I didnt recall hearing
that sound in the recent past !) I turned my head and there it was - a medium sized crow , sitting on a lamp post and singing ..err..cawing away merrily ..And just like that , I was transported to the backyard of my father's ancestral house in the coastal villages of North Kanara. That was an annual pilgrimage for my family when I was a kid ...visiting my relatives for two glorious carefree months.
Having been brought up in a city, living in a sprawling house with dusty attics and dark corridors was a refreshing change. Mornings and evenings would be spent in various activities and events around the house. But afternoons were ours to spend as we chose. My brother and my cousins would be holed up on the staircases, pretending to be bus and truck drivers and I would be tucked in a chair in the front yard, under a huge mango tree, with my favourite book of the moment. The shade was a relief from the afternoon sun and the slight breeze flowing in from
the sea was almost soporific. The only ones to keep me company were cats from neighbouring houses, scrounging around for food and of course , crows sitting on the above mentioned mango trees, enthusiastically and unrelentlessly trying to sing me to sleep. These were my constant afternoon companions, familiar and irritating at the same time. The afternoons would always pass as if in a haze, I would be half reading and half asleep, but I didnt have any complaints ! Hectic school days would arrive soon and I had only so many days of satisfactory solitude :-)
Evenings would again be spent with ever arriving cousins and visitors, as is the norm in any village setting. Every household always has guests trooping in and out and the hosts are ever prepared for every visit ! But thats besides the point (maybe another post!).
So there I was, remembering crows and lazy afternoons and mango trees. The thud of the gas nozzle thrust me back into the present. My toddler was squirming in his car seat and the gas pump was spitting out the receipt, thus ending my sojourn into the past. Getting into the driver's seat, I turned my head to look at the bird that had started this pleasant interlude, but it was nowhere to be seen.
....Perhaps it was sitting on some other lamp post - crying out its high pitched , ear piercing tune , leading some other hapless individual down memory lane.
What triggers your nostalgia ?