Memories are nostalgic, and in its wake bring plenty of mixed feelings, normally hard to describe. I am struggling with my inner self to give it a thought and build a frame. The longing for the past suddenly hits me with a bang and here I am jotting down a few childhood memories which still remains fresh in my mind.
I was born in Kerala and brought up in Mumbai as my dad works here. I love to describe myself as a ‘Mumbai mulga’ (boy). We live in a suburb named Mira Road which is a busy town. Dad had bought the apartment before my birth, as he never wanted his children to grow in a rented house, which he believes would disturb our emotions of not owning a home. So thoughtful of him! He always thinks about our well-being only! So I am fortunate enough to live in my own home, when there are millions who do not own a home and thousands who live on the pavements without a roof over their heads!
My home, ‘Home! Sweet Home!’, has a deep and abiding emotional appeal to me. It always reminds me of the melody composed by Sir Henry Bishop of England with lyrics provided by John Hayward Payne of America. The opening lines captivates our interest and describes life and its myriad manifestations with a lingering impression:
‘Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.’
Our apartment is on the fifth floor, overlooking a street. It is a crowded street with a lot of vehicles and people moving around 24×7. There is a shopping mall close closeby and a number of schools, hospitals and banks, where people throng in large numbers. This causes traffic congestion and the peak hours prove to be a mayhem with the impatient drivers honking continuously at the vehicle in front as if blaming the delay on the driver ahead
Sometimes, looking from the balcony, the street appears to me like a black carpet, with the heads of people almost touching each other, moving as one in one direction. Most of the days, I was also a part of this crowd with people sweating and smelling and breathing on to me from all directions. They move blindly without bothering where they are stepping or who they are pushing aside as they hurry on. But then also I am happy to be a part of the surging crowd and I long to go back to them!
Of all the memories that I have of my childhood, the visit to a circus when I was about eight years of age, still remains fresh. The ‘Rambo Circus’ had come to our town and it caught my fancy and imagination. I insisted on watching it and my parents obliged. The whole set-up through the eyes of an eight year old boy looked like a fairy land with a huge tent and coloured lights all around! I remember sitting there with bated breath and a wide open mouth for the circus to start.
Everything over there was instantly gripping…the colourful parade of all members on the stage, elephants kicking a ball to each other, the horses dancing on two legs and jumping over hurdles. Each performance remains vividly in my inner mind and they flash across my eyes as I write them down. Jugglers, hand balancing acts, gymnasts were some of the outstanding performances that I still remember. I still remember the crowd being silent during the tightrope walking performance, the way in which the artist confidently that without any support was walking on a single stretch of rope way above the ground had in reality made the hearts of the entire crowd skip a beat. But when the performance was over the entire crowd stood up in unison applauding the artist. The clowns and the dwarfs with their brightly coloured faces, and the final act of trapeze artists with their stunts kept me spellbound! When it was over , I don’t know how long I stood there applauding them in appreciation. When I look back , the child in me is awakened and I want to travel back to those carefree days.
Another incident that is still fresh in my memory is watching the movie ‘Ice Age 4 – Continental Drift’ with my 5th standard classmates. That was an alluring fare! The movie was excellent in 2D and was a fitting sequel to the earlier three versions of Ice Age series. The characters – Peaches, Ethan, Louis, Sid, Shira, Captain Gutt and of course our Scrat – managed to create utter mayhem on the screen and on my mind! The movie had focused on how Scrat breaking up Pangea thereby sending Manny, Sid and Diego adrift on an iceberg causing them to face Captain Gutt and his pirates. There was an extra dose of laughter with some witty one-liners and a couple of memorable moments with the tidal waves, deadly sea creatures, avalanches, crabs, water infested by pirates, a war battalion, leaves turned into fighter planes, sharks…and water, water everywhere! There wasn’t a single second when the screen was not ablaze with fights, battles and survival-of-the-fittest drama. It was a brilliant artwork, with warm and vibrant characters, and there were lessons for life that we get to relearn like ‘Never leave a friend behind’! Something to store in the frame of memory, interwoven delicately like an unearthly beauty!
Even though many of these descriptions may seem silly but for a young boy this is what his world was like and these memories of childhood with their internalities and externalities are still alive because they are very strong. They have withstood the years and their magic still holds. Each retelling is exquisite! They are going to remain fresh for a long time, till the end of my life, in the inner shelves of my mind!