Multi-hued sippies weaving dreams of sea in Simla of the Sixties

Multi-hued sippies weaving dreams of sea in Simla of the Sixties

It must have been early Sixties when I noticed the enigma of a life beyond our beautiful Simla.
I would dream of life away from Simla…. wide plains and beyond….a world much beyond my imagination and reach.

When someone would say that there are no mountains in plains….my imagination would fail visualising a world bereft of mountsins. It was like life without breathing the mountain air. I had never travelled beyond Solan so jow could I think of vast plains of India….full of heat and dust!

As Amma and Bauji didn’t have much of a social life, rather had none to speak of, so their small little world revolved around us…their two daughters…. Bauji would read to us stories st jome and when we would be taken for a long evening walk…he would tell simple stories that he knew of!

They wanted to give us the best they could in their own little way. Raat ka khaana would be an early affair and after that we would be taken for a long evening walk. I would wait eagerly for this walk as it would open up vistas of new worlds to me.

Sometimes Amma and Bauji would sit on the green wooden benches on the Ridge and we would be free to explore on our own the wonders that the Ridge offered. The oldtimers would remember that there used to be stairs leading to the foot of the statute of Mahatma Gandhi and we could easily walk up and down. Behind the statute was small space to play by jumping up and down to reach the water cascading from above…. this was the spot thst I loved to be at. There were sea-shells or what we called “sippy” on the wall through which water would flow down. These sea-shells, pearly in colour, would reflect so many shades of different colours….just like a rainbow! I would try to scratch a sippy from the wall to hold in my hand and then to hide in my school bag. There were few spaces in the wall from where some sippies were missing, perhaps taken away by some more enterprising kids. I could not detach a sippy from the wall but it’s memory is still fresh in my mind.

I wanted this sippy so badly….it was so creamy white to look at, smooth in touch and reflecting do many colours in the light of the bulbs and tube lights. Bauji had read to us a story from Jawahar Lal Nehru’s book “Letters to my daughter” where he had talked about the making of earth…and the sand which we found in abundance at some construction site.

While looking at those sippies I would think of parts of our big mountains flowing down with water….and turning into sand at the shores of ocean where these sippies would wash away to sandy shores. How I wished to see a sea shore….to walk in the sand and collect a lot many sippies from the sand.

We, the Pahadis, could only dream of going beyond Solan or Kalka…when journey by train was well neigh impossible gor us. But call it destiny, Providence or the quirk of nature that in mid Seventies I travelled with Bauji in sleeper coach…..my first ever journey by train, if I don’t count ride to Taradevi by train. And going to the Marina beach, walking barefoot on the sand….when ocean water washed my clumsy feet….and searching for Sippies in the sand!!!
How could my dreams turn into reality…. And nothing…no journey to any part of the world later on could snatch the enigma of watching the multi-hued colours of Sippy on the Ridge….searching for Sippies in the sands of Marina beach….holding hands of Bauji when waves tried to sweep off my hold on sand!!

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