Dear Little One,
I hope you remember about the old black and white negative that I brought from your Nani’s place some days back. It was a big surprise as well as a great find for me when shuffling through old papers that your Nana kept in his trunk, I had come across this old negative; weathered, crumpled and ravaged by time. A look at the old and white negative and I could see myself standing close to my papa along with my elder sister. The picture must have been taken in 1961 or 1962 as I seem to be 5 or 6 years old. I could see myself holding on to my father’s knee when the picture was taken as he always provided me anchor when I would be a little conscious. I brought back the negative and gave it to the local photographer’s shop for developing it. And today it is in my hands. I feel like crying to see this photograph. I am suddenly flooded with so many happy days that I spent in the comfort that your Nana’s mere presence provided me with.
Now he is no more. I, too, have grown old. But the only thing that remains fresh in my mind is the memories of the past. I was just wondering that had my parents not been given me a very happy childhood, would I still be delving deep in my past. No. Never. I would have very conveniently buried all the unhappy memories of my childhood deep under the layers of consciousness or sub consciousness. There could be certain parts of my memory that I never bring up as they are better buried deep But still looking back I find that the human mind actively keeps on sieving information and keeps intact the relevant one a and discards away the irrelevant one. I silently thank my parents for all the good memories that they had provided us with. One day when I was reading somewhere about Lee Falk, the creator of Phantom, I was suddenly transported to the time when your Nana brought for us the Inderjal comic’s first edition of “Betaal”. Phantom was named as Betaal in Hindi version of the Phantom comics! It must have been the year 1963 or 1964. I still remember that in that introductory comic whole of the “Betaal’s” family complete to his dog was described! And it became a regular feature in our family. We were fed on staple diet of “Kalyan” to make up our morals, First day covers to provide us a tryst with historical and cultural roots of our being and the comics to make us develop wings of imagination. It really was a deadly combo.
I wondered what you would remember about us some year hence, when we would be no more. It surely would not be the electronic gadgets that we provided you with or the good clothes or the like. I was suddenly worried thinking, “Have we invested enough of good memories that would sustain you one day?” Looking in the closets I find many relics of the time gone by—the paraphernalia that at one point of time must have been very prestigious for you to posses, but lies discarded today! The toy cars that were your brother’s jealously guarded treasure, Pinky–the doll–that I got for you from Jullunder, and the VCD player that you insisted on though CD player was in the offing, even Sony’s Hi-Fi music system whose colourful blinking lights made me go blank and I still am afraid to touch its knobs and push buttons, all have lost all the charm that they held some long time ago! It seems like a near past when I could see you dream for something new that today lies neglected. Yes, I agree the first thrill that you might have experienced by possessing these things would always be there as a reference point but its intensity would decrease with the passage of time.
But the long walk of about 25 Kms to your Nani’s place, once upon a time, would remain for all the times. Even walks to the town. As also some other very small joys of the life. I would really like to know what good memories we have provided you with.
Some years back I got to meet some fellow participant at a conference and we all got to talk about the prospective daughters-in-law and sons-in-law and the inference drawn of the discussion was that the boys and girls coming from families with happy childhood references prove to be better ad more adaptable. As they carry along with them feeling of safety and security that family stands for and in turn try to provide the same to their new homes. How true in deed! I have long forgotten about the English Language Grammar rules that the conference was all about but this piece of wisdom I still carry fresh in my mind.
I wish that my kids have the same family value when they set up a new home. I wish we have provided them with enough of good feeling that togetherness brings forth to any relationship.
It is like the feedback that I am seeking and I am really afraid of the results that your feedback would give me. As life doesn’t give you another chance to improve the way we get to improve after every semester’s feedback. Life has to be treaded cautiously as there is no turning back, howsoever, hard you may wish to catch up with the things gone by!