Burning the candle called “Nostalgia”

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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.

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Its been 12 years since I have left my parents’ house (5 of which I have been blissfully married) but in my mind my home has always been here. And its because my mom’s abundant love (in the form of hugs, kisses, cooking, shopping, etc.) and care are here and my dad’s resilient support and faith are here.

Coincidentally, my parents’ apartment building’s name is Paradise and it is indeed one, where I feel very peaceful because of two reasons – a) here I function on auto-pilot, I don’t have to plan anything or worry about what to do next. My mom’s established routine, the familiarity of her ways and the fact that I don’t have any responsibilities or any household decisions to make here, just lifts an invisible burden off my mind; b) it brings back so many memories of childhood that in its throes, I forget to worry about my work or other commitments.

Last week, my husband was here visiting my parents. One afternoon we were sitting inside my room and I just turned around and told him that my dad’s back from office and he surprisingly asked how I knew. I told him that I heard his keys jingle in the hallway. My husband teasingly said, “At times, when I speak to you standing right next to you, you fail to hear but this faint jingle, you heard!” And to that, I replied with a broad smile, “instinct that is born out of years practice, put in so many years and see how I read you darling!” 😉

During school days, I remember, me and my sister, we used to eagerly wait for that jingle and though we knew my parents had the keys, we used to run to open the door. And there were times when we were making a mess of the house, so we used to keenly watch out for the jingle so that we could run and fix things before getting caught 🙂

For me coming home is this happy cackle of extremely loud talking and even louder laughter filled with lots of reminiscing. And over the years, coming home involves a lot of long talks with mum – shopping with her, learning a bit of cooking from her, a bit of gossiping, and lot of heart-to-hearts.

As I head back to my other home (the one I strive to make like this one – full of love and warmth), I pack my bags with a heavy heart but also with the hope that someday when my parents come to my home, they will feel like they’ve come to “Paradise”.

There is happy and then there is happiest

happinessHappy is when I sit at my window and see the rain falling against it
Happiest is when I go out and dance in that rain

Happy is when I login at office and see that I do not have much work for the day
Happiest is when I login at office and see a congratulatory/appreciation mail

Happy is when I get the recipe right in the first time
Happiest is when I get the food to taste like my mum’s

Happy is when I finish all the dishes and the kitchen sink looks clean
Happiest is when I look at my sink and its clean since my husband did the dishes

Happy is when I get a quiet weekend with just my books and movies
Happiest is when that quiet weekend does not involve even a smidgeon of household work

Happy is when I do something nice for someone
Happiest is when that nice thing makes that person genuinely happy

Happy is when I call my family/friends to catch-up
Happiest is when someone remembers me for no reason and calls to catch up

Happy is when I look at all my childhood pictures of me and my sister
Happiest will be when I get that one day to spend with her looking through all our pictures together

Happy is when I look at all the likes and comments I get on my pictures/posts
Happiest will be when I’ll be able to stop looking for other people’s approval and accept myself for what I am

Happy is when I kneel down to pray to God and wish for all good things for my family
Happiest will be when I can learn to pray without any wishing/asking for anything from Him

Happy  is when I live up to the stated expectations of being a daughter, sister, wife, and daughter-in-law
Happiest will be when I understand their wishes/expectations without them saying anything and live  up to them

Love at first sight!

love at first sight4

It wasn’t even 6.00 AM yet, Shrey was awake and lying in bed, just waiting for the alarm to go off so that he could get ready for his school trip to the Gir forest. He had his brand new camera by his side and one singular aim of capturing a real life lion on the camera. To distract himself from the staring contest with his clock, he turned around and looked outside the window, he saw a peacock perched outside. He immediately brought up his camera and snapped away few pictures. It was love at first sight! Love with the world and the colors his camera showed him.

It was 5.00AM, half a mintue before the alarm rang Rhea switched it off. Her small town at the edge of Gujarat was still asleep. She quickly got out of bed, tidied it and went to freshen up. After half an hour, she was at her study desk, with her head in her books. Rhea was an honest and hardworking girl, studying day and night to get good grades in school. She had only one goal in mind, to become a successful business woman and for that she didn’t just need good grades but a good stock of street smarts. And so she was studying hard to get out of her small town and get into a good college in Mumbai, the best place to know the crowds and push to its forefront. Six months later, with the added feather of school topper to her plume, she got onto the train. Her train was pulling into Mumbai and right from Vasai creek, she was at the train door soaking in the sights of her dream city. Half an hour later when the train pulled into the station and she stepped down clutching her prized possession, her admission papers to her dream college, it was love at first sight! Love with her dream city, love that comes with knowing that she’d embarked on her dream journey and her goal, though far, was very much within reach.

It was past midnight, she was sleepy but was fighting sleep with everything she had. Roshni was a bubbly 6 year old, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new baby. She was sitting on the dingy hospital sofa, waiting for the miracle to happen. Right from the beginning she had explained to everyone in the family that even if its in the middle of the night and she was fast asleep, she wanted to be woken up when the baby came. So sometime at 2.00 AM her father woke her up from the corner of the sofa where she was huddled into oblivion. With groggy eyes she climbed down from the sofa and went to her mother’s bed. Her father lifted her onto the bed next to her mother where her mother was holding a tiny, chubby, girl in her arms. All of Roshni’s sleep vanished, she carefully and reverently took her baby sister onto her lap and planted a huge sloppy kiss on her cheeks, declaring to everyone who cared to hear her: I LOVE HER! I’LL NEVER LEAVE HER!

She was running with 3 heavy bags on her arms but she couldn’t think about the weight because she was late. She was supposed to be at the client’s place half an hour ago, delivering her first batch of outfits. Rutva was an aspiring fashion designer, trying to run a boutique from her home (ofcourse with the dream of having a chain of haute couture boutiques across the country). After struggling for about a year, she’d managed to gather her first big order: wedding trousseau for a school friend. She had just collected all the clothes from her tailor and was running to deliver them to her friend’s apartment. Tired of waiting for the lift, she turned around to take the stairs and at the first landing only bumped into a handsome stranger. It was sparks at first sight as they both bent down to pick up the scattered packets. The handsome stranger turned out to be her friend’s cousin and from there on, the sparks went on to become dates and love and finally a blissful marriage.

Sameer was sitting by the window gazing outside while reflecting on the inside. He’d led a very happy life of 70 years with a big happy family to show for it. He’d married Sneha, his college sweetheart and built a small world for themselves. While he worked on providing for the family, Sneha endeavored to keep  their lives running smoothly. After marriage, Sameer’s world revolved around her. With little road bumps and lots of cloud sevens, their life progressed from one milestone to another. Four years after marriage, Sneha gave birth to twins and before they realized, the twins had grown up and each had two children of their own. Just last year, a heart attack in her sleep had claimed Sneha’s life. Today as he was reliving his life and its highlights, he had a premonition that today was the time to embrace death. He slowly walked to his bed, took out the small framed picture of his wedding day from his bedside. Sneha had her arm around his neck and had an ear-to-ear smile. It was the best day of his life and he wanted that image as he closed his eyes. It was the love of last sight. A sight and love that he wished to carry with him to his death bed and beyond.