I am baring my soul…..
This page has opened up a floodgate of memories for me as it has for all the members. I never would have imagined to write on topics or about the topics that I have expressed without any inhibition, whatsoever. There is something magical in this group. One of the friends, makes a comment about the practice of breakfast in his home, and I come out with how we, in our home, had morning meals! No breakfast…the word was not in our vocabulary and practice.It is a particularly cathartic experience for me as I can, so easily, write openly about my fears, anxieties and dreams, without being afraid of being judged on the basis of them, as I have lived my life and proved myself…While writing about my childhood, I am careful to center all activities and experiences around my own persona for two reasons…one that I know my feelings about anything that I have experienced and second for the reason that I should not write about anyone else who may not like to be revealed in the open space. But when I read comments and find that many of us have had almost similar experiences, it is such a relief to me to know that I was not alone in my struggle against some futile fears! I feel so secure even today when these nitty gritty concerns cannot upset me anymore!The best that this page has done to me is that I am liberated from all those feelings that made me conscious of so many things, even after such a long time. The consciousness which started when I entered my teens and developed further had stayed with me as an albatross cross though on the surface I never thought about it.I remember that while I was at Advanced Studies and all my fellow-Fellows would go to the Mall or the Lower Bazaar in what made the dress code of the group…big long shapeless kurtas, jeans, a big jhola or a backpack, a long handled big colourful umbrella used as a walking stick and the coin sized red Bindi completing the look. I would have another object with me, my big DSLR camera which I would use to capture the pictures of places I felt close to. But when I would come to Lower Bazaar, my own area, I would be a little hesitant and would put my camera in the bag… embarrassed of showing off my scholarly-looks to people who knew me so well. It had been close to 37 years that we had left Lower Bazaar but psychologically I felt so close to it. I would walk to any shop where I found a familiar face..would self-introduce myself as a girl from the Lower Bazaar or a student from Sanjauli college. Once I went to the shop of Kamal and Kapil opposite the Nathu Halwai shop and when recognised, felt so happy…and what a pleasure it was to have a conversation as if I had never ever left the place.Would enter the Hakam Mull Tani Mal shop and talk to them about my association with the shop…and the most beautiful gesture was to be offered a malai-wali chai in steel glass as a bonus to lively talk. When I talked to him about some of my problems at my workplace, he, so magnanimously, offered some help which I was too proud to accept!! Another shop opposite to this, where a middle aged man, with a bashful smile of a teenager, asked me, “Were you in Sanjauli College?” My colleague from Advanced Studies smilingly joked, “You must have been famous, once upon a time!” Or when I would take another of my friends to Lower Bazaar stationery shop of the Sardar ji where I used to buy pens, pencils and fountain pen inks! If the Lower Bazaar was a familiar ground, the residence of Sood family, our neighbours, was a home to me!I would walk up to S.N Sahah’s home where my dearest Leela Behnji, as she was called by everyone, lived…and with her it was as if I had never left the place. And what a feeling it would be when she would tell people on being asked. “She is our daughter.” All these emotions were well-guarded secrets of my heart that I would immerse myself in when I wanted to, but not to be shared openly except with persons close to my heart!Now this page is giving me the same connection, I am feeling as if so many of my friends on this page are the people who I must have walked along on the Mall for sure! I might be a little in awe of some of you…for your elite style… embarrassed for my plain looks as compared to some of you as style icons…might have hurriedly vanished down a side stairs when encountered by a few of you..definitely felt like making myself invisible when meeting my friends who made it to the Medical college while I would walk to Sanjauli college with my head down while their white aprons carelessly thrown over shoulders reminded me what a big failure I have been. The list is long and endless, as is my story and connection with Simla.In the year 2009, I remember shedding silent tears, in the dark corner of the Mall, when I would return from my lawyer’s office carrying a loadful of legal documents. I was in legal imbroglio at my workplace. I always had believed that Kachehris are there to put in jail the wrong-doers but this new experience teaching me that the Kachehri is where an accused pleads to prove him innocent. Walking alone from the Mall to Boileauganj during this period was extremely tiring both to my body and spirit. But I survived all this. I still feel like Scarellet O’Hara of the “Gone with the Wind” who felt that once she goes back to “Tara” the place of her birth, she would regain all the energy she needed to face the world. I needed to visit Simla of my childhood to invigorate me.This page has given me back that Simla which I was searching for…the Simla with the people of my era are back in my life! I know, all my friends out there would understand and empathize with what I am writing about as this is the first time that I am writing about many things on an open page! But you have given me love, courage and faith in myself! It was Prof. Harish Trivedi, an authority on Post-colonialism, who said to me, when I was so animatedly talking about life in the Lower Bazaar and the Mall, “Why don’t you write about your life at both the places.” Or a friend, who would ask me to write but I would be sheer blank and bereft of ideas and now every single word on the page fills me with a long-lost memory and I want to write! It makes me light-headed, light-hearted and free!!