Just the other day, I was looking for the notations of a particular Rabindra sangeet when I came across the diaries, which I used to note down notations in my music classes, some 15-18 years back from now. Suddenly, I just got reminded of how I waited for those two days of the week when the evening would be spent in the music classes after coming back from school. The wait was not just for the sake of my love for music, nor for the fact that I had good friends to gossip with there. There was a lot more to it. On our way back, me and Ma customarily treated ourselves with fuchka, egg roll or chop. Ma also got to chat with her friends, who were the mothers of my classmates there. Overall, the whole episode was fun though, from a present perspective, there was nothing so great and exciting about it.
Now, it so happened that I could hardly ask my brain to stop picking up memories from the past, I went on reminiscing about the childhood days and with each story that came to my mind, I realized how small, insignificant matters back then made us happy and with this came the sad realization that such uninhibited joys are perhaps way too hard to experience any more.
I remembered the time when I was in class VII when our very first car was bought. It was a second hand 8 seater Maruti Omni E and my father was supposed to bring it home during the evening from the garage. I skipped my school on the day lest the car arrived when I was not in home. I could hardly have my lunch because I was too excited and in the not-so-cool weather of probably July or so, I waited on the terrace from 4 PM to catch the first glimpse of our very first car entering through the gate. The shockingly sad news came from my father at around 6 PM when he called to let us know that due to some document-related problems, the car was not handed over that day and instead, it would be delivered the day after. I cried my heart out and I still don’t figure out the exact reason behind my uncontrollable sobs that continued way too long. It was perhaps the child in me that could not bear the disappointment. Hardly did we know that this disappointment was not even an inch of what life prepares for us later. And needless to mention, when the second and the third car arrived after 4 or 7 years respectively, there was nothing really special because of course, adulthood had, by then, spread its claws of maturity.
Little things mattered so much back then that when I look back, I laugh at our own silliness. My uncle’s wedding reception was held in our very own house and dinner was arranged for the guests on our huge terrace, which was decorated and covered for the four-day long marriage function. Me and my cousins, all four of us, were so excited to collect the menu cards from the guests after the dinner was over. And the deal was that whoever collected the maximum number of cards would be the winner (though there was no prize for it). At night, we counted the cards collected by each of us and I went to bed, little sad that I did not have the maximum number of cards. The next morning, one of the caterer guys handed me a bunch of menu cards saying that those were extra and could not be used anymore. My joy knew no limits and I rushed to my cousins to declare that I was the ultimate winner. And not quite surprisingly, they were distraught too!
Not just menu cards, we loved collecting train and bus tickets too and I am sure many of you from the generation, had this habit as well. In our childhood, happiness came our way very easily and it came in the form of very, very small and otherwise insignificant things. Dinner in a restaurant, visiting sweet shops with Baba on Bengali New Year’s Day, occasional gatherings at home especially, on bhaiphota were the things we eagerly looked forward to. I remember once we had lunch in a restaurant, which was very close to the Kolkata airport and offered a nice view of the landing planes while we ate. The whole thing stayed in my mind for God knows how long!!
Back to the present, with my office in Salt Lake Sector V, I often get to see landing aeroplanes though of course, from quite a distance, when I am taking a stroll in the parking lot. Alas! I don’t even look up and it is only the sound that disturbs me especially, if I am speaking over the phone.
The loss of innocence and those boundless joys is perhaps not something regrettable because all children become adults and live a life that confronts us with so many things, both good and bad. What is sad is that the excess of all things, especially the material stuffs, has made us kind of immune to happiness and excitement. It is like everything is so common and nothing is a great deal anymore. Of course, we get excited but it has to be a big achievement at work or perhaps, an amazingly planned holiday trip that meets our happiness criteria. Quite unfortunately, the situation is quite similar for the present-day kids too.
At the risk of sounding too philosophical and idealistic, I would end my ramblings right here. Let’s just take this as an Ode to our lost childhood and its lost bliss which I am sure, many of you will identify with.