There’s always that one point in time, when nostalgia overpowers the present.
There’s always a day, when you can kick back and reminisce about the days/years gone by.
But there should never come a time, when past is all you live in and think about.
You’re very fortunate if you’ve had a past you love to reminisce about.
But count your blessings and move on to live in today,
So that you can make many more memories to reminisce about tomorrow.
It was going to be the Sunday from hell, Minie had just woken up and was dragging her feet to kitchen when she spied her mom on one of her cleaning sprees.
As soon as she saw the ominous blue duster heading her way, she ducked under the kitchen table but not in good time. Arunima saw her and shouted, “Minie, don’t hide from me. No games today and no movies either, freshen up and then get to cleaning your room.” Minie was no kid, she was in junior college and so very smartly, after extracting a promise of pizza dinner and movie marathon in return for the cleaning, Minie went up.
Minie generally kept her room clean so it just took her half hour to straighten out her book shelf and table and then grudgingly she took up the mammoth task of arranging her wardrobe. She put on some music and started taking out all the haphazard and scruffy piles of clothes onto her bed. She then proceeded to create neat piles of often worn clothes, seldom worn and ones to be discarded. As she laid the last pile, an idea formed in her head. She immediately looked at the clock and called out to her mom, “Ma, can I call Riya to lunch?”
With her mom’s permission she proceeded to call her neighbor and best friend Riya, “Rii!!! Come home quick, tell aunty you’ll have lunch at our place. I have a fun idea, come ultra soon, OK. Bye”
While waiting for Riya, Minie started preparing a playlist of some of the cheesiest 90’s songs and then she proceeded to sort her pile of discards into two piles. Just as she finished, Riya opened the door and looking at the disarrayed room she shouted, “Oh I see, madam princess was too lazy to do her own dirty work so called me over, that too “ultra quickly”. Right this second explain the mess and guarantee that Arunima aunty wont massacre us.”
Laughing at her terrorized friend, Minie pulled her in and began, “Don’t worry about the neat piles, only the small piles on the floor are of use to us. You see Riya darling, I am discarding these clothes for two reasons: the pile A here is too torn and tattered and the pile B here doesn’t fit me anymore, so I need to give it off.”
“Now for pile A, here, put this on,” saying this she handed one tattered tee to Riya and she herself donned one. Then she turned around and hit the play button and on came, “main laila laila chillaunga kurta fadke.” Riya was still looking lost so Minie said, “I always wanted to tear clothes after listening to this song, ” and she proceeded to rip her tee into two.
As they ploughed through the pile, one last item Minnie couldn’t tear it off, so Riya came to help. As soon as Riya touched her t-shirt, Minie shouted, with hands on both ears, “Bhagwan k liye, muje chod do. Meri izzat hi mera gehna hai.” The tee forgotten, both friends collapsed on the floor laughing.
Finally, just as Arunima called everyone for lunch, Minie and Riya put the torn pieces into the bin and headed down for lunch. As Namit sat down to eat, he whispered to Minie, “Never seen you so happy after one of the mandatory cleaning sessions. What’s the secret?” Minie cleared her throat and declared, “I just invented the perfect, fun way to enjoy cleaning day.”
It was past 2AM, Minie slowly crept out of the bed, quickly stuffed her bag, winked at herself one last time in the mirror and started climbing down the stairs. She had been planning this escape since two days so silently and quickly, she walked past the living room and turned towards the kitchen to jump out of the kitchen window. She slowly opened the hatch and just as she climbed onto the kitchen counter, her dad quietly said, “Something tells me you are not sleep walking Minie!” She jumped up like a scared kitten and almost fell off the counter.
With no remorse but a goofy smile and mischief in her eyes, Minie turned around and faced her father, “ummm… well dad, I was practicing sneaking out of the house, like they show in the movies!!! I wanted to see if I can manage without waking you guys up. But clearly, I failed.”
Namit replied, “You want me to believe that you are not running away but just practicing. Come on Minie! I’m your dad, give me some credit for wisdom that comes from age, if not for brains.”
“Seriously dad, you can check my bag,” she opened and showed her bag pack, it was stuffed with crumpled newspaper. Namit just couldn’t help but laugh at that. He pulled out an ice-cream tub from the fridge and father and daughter sat at the counter having ice-cream at 2AM.
“Please don’t tell this to Mom, she will freak out.”
Namit said, “you know that’s not the rule, we never hide anything from each other. In fact, if you were doing this experiment, you should have given us a heads up – ‘Hey mom-dad, I am going to do a movie-style experiment one of these days so please don’t freak out. Once it’s over I will give you the details.’
Minie nodded her head at her father’s logic and said, “Next time, definitely. By the way Paa, how did you wake up, I was extremely quiet, didn’t switch on a single light and nor did I jingle any of wind-chimes on my way down.”
Now it was Namit’s turn to look sheepish and goofy, “Well! I, umm, I modified your old baby monitor and made it into a security device which alerts me of smallest of movements in your room. I only activate it at night and it was meant only to alert us of any intruder in your room.” Minie’s mouth was wide open.
Namit closed it and continued, “So tonight it beeped for the first time and it took me sometime to realize that it’s the security device beeping. By the time I got out of my room, I saw your silhouette inching down the stairs. So I just followed you and waited for the right moment to surprise you!”
Minie couldn’t help but laugh and admire her father’s ingenuity. With the ice-cream polished away, they both went up to their rooms with the promise that they’ll tell the full-story (with all the theatrics) to Mom tomorrow.
Jamie looked in the mirror for the tenth time – checked her necktie, her belt, turned around and checked her shirt, she wanted it to be neatly tucked, with just a small pleat falling over her belt. Then she turned back and practiced her smile as she wanted it to be just perfect, neither too forth coming nor too reserved. Finally, satisfied with her appearance, she went to work.
Day by day, the same routine followed. Jamie would get up and meticulously get dressed. She’d take great pains to look perfect, with a neatly ironed dress, elegantly coiffured hair, radiant make-up and of course, the perfectly practiced smile.
For a career receptionist with no other means to support herself, Jamie needed to check her necktie to see if she was modest and presentable. She needed to check her belt regularly to see if the scuffs were covered and she needed to tuck her shirt in perfectly so that the hole in the back wasn’t visible.
You see, vanity is only for those who can afford it.
My first memory as a living being is a very very faint one, in fact, it’s more like a feeling than a memory – I think I vaguely remember holding my younger sister for the first time. I was a little over 1.5 years old and I have this feeling that when I held her for the first time, I was immensely happy and even more curious, waiting for the sleeping bundle to open her eyes.
For each phase of my growing up, in my mind, I have created these huge memory chests and whenever I’m homesick or low, I open these chests one by one and ensconce myself in this blanket of memories that I’ve woven with love and fun.
One of the biggest and my most favorite chest is the early childhood one. Growing up with a sister who is in the same age group as me was always full of fun games and petty fights. We two were always in a world of our own, always fighting but still inseparable. In school also, though we were one class apart, we did everything together, all my friends were her friends and her friends were mine. All our teachers also knew that we were sisters. In short, we two were a package deal.
I don’t think there’s a single corner in our house where we wouldn’t have played. We’d dance around in the puja room or there was telephone there so the fake telephone call game. Then at times, we’d jump around in the kitchen or squish in the tiny window seat there and just talk nonsense or go to the attic and make up some games. Most evenings we’d just run around on the terrace chasing each other or playing thikri-dav or riding our tricycle (riding was more like me bullying my sister – I was taller than her, so if she wanted to ride, I’d just lift up the tricycle and never let her ride).
Just like all kids, despite our numerous toys and games, we’d want to play with the stuff growns up use. So our mom use to deliberately leave her talcum powder on the dressing table (everything else was under lock and key). We’d use her old duppattas and put powder and play fashion-show, fashion-show. Or we’d create our own houses from those duppattas and play neighbor-neighbor.
On rainy days we’d simply sit at the window making up hero-heroine chase stories with raindrops or sing the rainy day song “aav re varsad” at the top of our voices till mumma came in and shushed us J
There is a lot more in this treasure trove of memories and every time that I’ve taken this trip down memory lane, I’ve come back to present day desperately missing those simpler times.
That being said, nostalgia is like a candle that we should burn only when there’s darkness. If we keep re-living those days in the hope of capturing them again then we are just setting ourselves up for a huge disappointment. It’s a candle’s fate to burn out some day and when that day comes, you will find yourself lost in darkness where you won’t have enough family or friends to help pull you out because while you were busy living in yesterday, everyone present today was busy going ahead.
And that’s why, while I still try to capture the past when I meet my sister, I have learnt to have fun on my own too. When I’m by myself in the house, I dance like crazy on some random songs (sometimes even without any music). Or when I’m at the gym, I think of silly silly things that I can do with my sister or my husband (most of the women in my gym think I’m crazy because most of the time I’m starring in the mirror and smiling at myself). Most weekends, my husband and I, we play silly games and laugh like children over small small things. Sometimes, I call over all the kids in my neighborhood and we play cards or color/color or all sorts of kiddie games.
Among the many vows I’ve taken in life and all new-year resolutions I’ve taken so far, I can proudly say that I’ve stuck to one of them – playing all kinds of games and laughing over silly things. I’d like to play more often but being a grown up (by my birth date I am one but one can debate its accuracy till kingdom come:)), I can’t just act like a kid all the time.
I’ve read very often and been told as well that when you get married, you change over time. The initial newness and excitement carries you over the first few years in one happy wave but things change, people around you change and of course you also change. This change happens even faster in a love marriage because the process of discovering your partner, who he is and what he likes is already halfway done since you knew each other before marriage. I’ve known my husband for 9 years now – first friends, then in a relationship and then married. And of course, we have changed a little over time, with responsibilities and other pressures but one thing that hasn’t changed is the happy wave we’re in. Don’t get me wrong, like any normal graph, there are crests and troughs in ours too but the trend line is going upwards only. The reason, which I discovered unintentionally and innocuously, for this is very simple.
We had gone to see fast and furious 7. The theater wasn’t full but the rows around us were. As usual, I got all emotional and weepy when the last scene came and the movie was paying homage to Paul Walker. It was the scene at the beach when everyone’s serious and Vin Diesel is saying: “We don’t say good bye to family”. I am about to drop a few big fat tears when my husband quietly whispers in my ear, “We don’t say goodbye to family, we say AAVJO.” I just burst out laughing and the whole crowd around me is irritated and appalled at this (apparently!) grown woman giggling like a child in the middle of a dead-serious moment. We both were still laughing about this as we walked out of the theater and the mall.
I’ll never forget that moment not just because of the epic dialogue from my husband but mainly because it made me realize that no matter what we go through or what we become in future, one thing will remain a constant, seeing me sad (whether its because of a movie or our fight or whatever) he will leave everything else and try and make me smile. And seeing him sad, I will do anything to bring a smile to his face (agreed, I don’t have a sense of humor like his, but will try, even if its just a cliched thing like showing him a funny video).
Our happy wave continues because, instead of remembering our differences everyday, we try to bring a smile to each other’s face. I hope this continues in future as well, no matter how we change or what we go through.