Sunday, December 2, 2007

I remember, I remember.......

I Remember, I Remember

I remember, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon
Nor brought too long a day;
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away.

I remember, I remember
The roses red and white,
The violets and the lily cups--
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,--
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then
That is so heavy now,
The summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow.

I remember, I remember
The fir-trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from Heaven
Than when I was a boy.

Thomas Hood

Read a lovely article by Vanita Dawra Nangia in the Times today. [The O-zone column]. She reminisces about her childhood days, remembering incidents from school days and how things that had affected her deeply back then seem trivial now. That images crumble and things diminish with time. She makes a lovely statement - "Childhood magnifies everything. Even buildings take on bigger dimensions than in reality. I remembered the school building to be much bigger than what I actually found it to be"

Experienced this when i went to Kundapur for Ganapati this year. Kundapur was a haven for us kids. A childhood paradise. Well, at some point all of us non-kundapur-ites have wished to have been living there. As kids, a huge one acre land - filled with mango and jackfruit trees, a rambling house, filled with wondrous nooks and corners to be explored, a lovely 'maaLi' of our own, with the huge swing, the river in walking distance, the sea at an hour's drive - was heaven on earth. The days spent idling away in the 'hittal' under the trees, by the lake; plucking mangoes and guavas; on the swing, swinging away with as much force as our little legs had, to the latest hit hindi songs playing on the tape recorder; trips planned by adults to Udipi or Mangalore, always with some 8 -9 kids in tow, ending with a Gudbud and Masala dosa at Paarijaata; the regular deliveries of 'Charmbura upkari' [Bhel] and Homemade ice cream from Annayya's little stall; the ice-candies bought at 25 p ; the countless games of cards, khambada aata and tons of other make-believe games; fights and patch-ups - Summer holidays at Kundapur used to be the highlight of each year. The house seemed huge, the town - confusing to navigate, the town temple - impressive, Kundeshwar seemed too far to walk, Mamamma was the omnipotent, strong matriarch, and Kundapur - the perfect heaven, resistant to change, resistant to adulteration, pristine and pure.

Went to Kundapur after an year - or was it two? - for Ganapati festival. This time, surprisingly, it felt as though I was looking at it anew. The house was not the gigantic place that existed in my memory, the doors [Hebbagila] didn't seem as impressive, the land - not as rambling as before, the swing - more compact, the town - much smaller, and, sadly, less populated; the town temple seemed like a small shrine. It was greatly unsettling. I couldn't relate this place to the memories I had of it. The town was the same - at least, in size and layout. Yet it seemed different. What made it so was the change in perspective. The Child had gone. It was an Adult now, trying to find the paradise of her childhood in the place that it now is. But an adult can never find the world as marvelous as a child does. An adult has seen the reality and found it to be harsh. The adult finds it impossible to shy away from the truth - that the town is changing; the shops selling home-made ice cream are no more; that Mamamma has aged and is growing weaker and, might not be around one day; that all fights can not end with a "forgive and forget"; that no matter how hard we swing, it is sometimes impossible to touch the sky; that the idyllic times of childhood are never going to return; that life is about earning enough, making a career, finding leave, short vacations, long and hectic work days, deadlines and appraisals, difficult choices, break ups and heart aches, adjustments, compromises, illnesses, responsibilities, separations and death. That people we idolized as kids have their own fair share of faults, and those whom we hated were not demons. In fact, there is no black and white, just gray; varying shades of it.

Yet, the adult finds respite in those brief lapses into childhood - where the mind, for a moment, forgets all that it's "learnt" and becomes innocent again and travels into a non-adult world. A world where Dreams are dreamt and they do come true, where situations are binary - yes/no, like/don't like, 1/0 - and not complex. The adult-turned-child then laughs, dreams, believes - and finds hope that life isn't meaningless after all. That no matter how dreary things might seem, Life is beautiful enough to Live - and to Live it whole-heartedly! The swings are still there, one just needs to believe that one can touch the sky - and, who knows, one fine day, it just might happen!!



4 comments:

Ram said...

Very nicely written. True - childhood does seem like an idyllic place and it is refreshing to relapse and experience the child in you, once in a while.

nissim said...

When I was a child,
I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye,
I turned to look but it was gone,
I cannot put my finger on it now,
The Child is grown, the dream is gone.

May you rediscover the dream, may the child find the candy again.

Bastet said...

@ Ram

Thanks! Though it is refreshing to relapse into childhood, when you return to adulthood, there is a longing that stays with you, for the times when responsibilities were less, burdens were lighter, people seemed nicer and there were no worries of the future.

@ NiNa

:) Hope so.

suma said...

I'm still in the making... of 'chetana matthu kodapana' ;)
such a touching post. All of us cousins probably still feel strongly connected due to this one reason!
And that no matter how much we'd have drifted apart, if we meet at Kundapur at any given point of time it will be revelry again :)of course with churmuri that would taste different and grape that wouldn't be as fermented (oops!)