I believe that our home is like our mind. It turns overwhelming after a while. Maybe because of passage of time or because of the limited capability of our brain to run in a thousand different directions, we end up stacking a lot of memories in boxes and forget them. Ditto for our home.
But then sometimes, while staring at a drifting cloud or a bird going home, there are memories that rush back, memories that we had long forgotten, memories that surprise us because they are still unknowingly breathing inside us. It is a breathtaking moment when you wonder if a particular memory was actually a dream.
And you ask yourself – Did it actually happen?
I shifted home two years back. It was a painful experience. I had spent 25 years of my life in that house. The house has been a silent spectator of the emotions that everyone living in the house went through – bliss, heartache, gloom, love, togetherness, separation, marriage and death. The house was a member of the family; it was where everyone returned, where everyone found each other.
While I packed my life to move to a new (and bigger) shelter, I stumbled upon memories stacked away and forgotten. I opened boxes to have a look into the piece of the past they contained and was transported back. There were tears in my eyes when I fell upon a shoebox full of my collection of post-cards of Bollywood actors and actresses. Like every other teenager, I was madly in love with them. There was a shop that was a ten minutes walk from my home where a kind, obese uncle sat with his kind, obese son as I rummaged through the postcards for my picks.
My family was not rich. My father was barely able to meet ends and so the importance of money was etched in my mind from childhood. But then I had hobbies. So, I collected every single rupee that was given to me. Every coin added to my piggybank was yet another step towards acquiring a postcard, towards buying a second-hand novel from the Sunday Daryaganj market, towards getting that cassette recorded with the latest Bollywood songs from the local music corner, towards buying the latest comic book of my favorite superhero, towards buying Filmfare and reading all that our stars had to say. There were times when I had to wait for days to accumulate sufficient amount to buy a dream but the wait was always worth it.
My sister always wanted a Barbie – the new doll with wavy hair that had recently hit the market. She would look hungrily at the shiny dolls wearing glamorous clothes displayed in the windows of toy shops. Of course it was too expensive (Rs 100 a doll back then) and we could not afford it. The hair on her doll’s head was fewer in comparison and would come away after a few combs. I decided to make her happy. I took a nice, long needle and some spare wool (left from a hideous sweater that mom knitted for me) and started adding hair to her doll. I took off the head of the doll and pierced her head with the needle from inside. I then pulled it till the end of the wool and then snipped off the wool so that she now had a hair till her waist. I repeated it a hundred times and soon the doll had lush green woolen hair till her waist that my sister could comb to glory.
When my sister saw Aishwarya Rai become Miss India, she had a sudden urge to host a Miss World in our house. I again came to her rescue leaving my Hot Wheels cars and my plastic animals behind. I drew a lot of lovely women on paper wearing exquisite gowns and sashes of their countries. I then cut them and made them stand by pasting a thin cardboard strip near their legs. I made around 200 such drawings and gave them to my sister to play. She made all of them stand on a table and gave them a number and chose the next Miss World. Oh! How she loved it!
I found the lovely ladies in a box, lying on top of each other and smiling at me.
I found truckload of capacitors and resistors that my father used while repairing our old television. He had done a course in electronics and I would gawk at his notes with that immaculate writing and the complicated circuit diagrams. I found those notes.
I found Mom’s old black and white fairy photograph. When I came across the bag containing all the pictures, I desperately searched for her photo in which she was wearing a black pahari dress. As a child, I used to think that she was a fairy whenever I looked at that picture. I promised myself that I will get it framed. I found dad’s photograph in which he looked like Rakesh Roshan.
I found my old sketch book about which I blogged here.
I found a card with the picture of a village belle in the front and a sher written inside by my father. I found his wooden miniature airplane.
I found my kindergarten report card.
It was a beautiful day. The boxes that I had stacked away in my mind and completely forgotten were magically opened one by one. As the memories tumbled out, I thought that moving the house wasn’t a bad idea after all. It was refreshing. It took me to another era. It made me realize how much I have changed. It humbled me. But there was a nagging guilt that I was leaving the house behind. And then I felt as if my old house was smiling at me.
“You are not leaving me behind. I am in all of those pictures. I am the wall behind you. I am the floor on which you stand. I am coming with you,” it said.
Sometimes I pass that house and look at it from my car. Someone else is living there now. It is a part of another family.
Does it still remember me?