Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Nostalgia is not what it used to be...

I've this wonderful image of one specific period in my life. This was between years six and ten. We, my parents and older sister, lived in a small town called Katpadi that is about 100km from Chennai. We had a fairly a "BIG" house (rather a LOOOONG) house, which had a passage going through set of successive rooms with another room to its right. Each rooms on the passage was designated to have separate functions by my mother. It had huge space at the back (never have gone to the rear compound for the fear of scary and creepy living things near the thicket of shrubs) and relatively bigger space on the front and sides. Whats so special the house ?
- This is where I first learned to play cricket. I used to bounce the ball against the wall, and angle the bat in a way, i had assumed Vishy plays his 'cut' (later realized its Azhars-edge-to-slip-thing)
- This house is where I found how I can change my hair style to look like 1971-6for38-at-the-oval- B.S.Chandrasekar
- Its this time, I consistently beat my sister in Chess after having learned it
- Its the time when mother grew a garden; we used to get vegetables from the garden to be cooked the same day
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Its this time, when my Sis and I used to race to the corner of the streets to touch my father returning from work; and my father as his choice would be on that day, dodge one of us to get the other to touch him first
- Its the time, when we used to have "Nila sappadu" - taking the food upto the terrace and have dinner in moonlight
- From our terrace, I used to look at the hill and small fires burning there; and get scared looking at it, since someone said thats where the 'robbers' live and they are cooking their dinner; My fear disappeared as my fascination for constellations grew and was able to recognize the the Polestar and the Great Bear...

and I can go on and on with those wonderful memories and with many more such recalls. It seemed that those images were frozen, sculpted and stored away in my psyche...

Then reality happend...I visited the place after decades recently. With some difficulty I found the house; I was first struck by the open drain and light stench from it. The house was converted into an office and it was shockingly decrepit. It definitely could do with one coat of paint or three. There were no signs of Jasmine or December flowers in the "Garden", that my mother had nurtured so carefully; The garden had remnants of thorny bushes, if that piece of barren land can be called so
. And the Katpadi summer with adjoining hills was inimical and scalding hot. The house itself seemed to have shrunk in size; The whole experience was anti-climatic - a jolting disappointing let-down...

...May be I should have never tried to connect my images burned in my head with the reality now. The past is not the same once you revisit it; On the other extreme, its also possible the past was not really that pristine as we sometimes remember it to be. Its just a memory that we choose to remember...

In the end, perhaps Nostalgia is overrated; its really not what it is made out to be.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

i can relate to that....
all the memories i have as a kid (in bbay) - the big house, the long walks and the likes were all so "small" when i re-visited :)
i think we carry a different perception as kids and they are beautiful by itself...
-aw

arthic said...

I too had a similar exp.. very sad and disappointing.. But thinking retrospectively I feel the place etc. remains the same.. It is we who have changed.. grown big for the childhood shoes we still wear in our mind. but one can't/ shouldn't ignore the lovely memory of the past.. thats what keeps us going in the times of misery..