Jun 6, 2007

Woh Kagaaz Ki Kashti [Childhood, Paperboats, Rain & Hope]

One day I was going to college as usual at around 8:45 in the morning। Descending from the flight of stairs and into the pavement I found that it was that kind of a day in which you don’t want to do anything but to sleep for an eternity taking advantage of the gloomy conditions and overcast skies. The monsoon has finally arrived in Shillong… a small picturesque hill station in the eastern part of India. The raindrops just holding back a little… waiting to spit their venom afterwards, perhaps! I braved myself without an umbrella and ventured into the cold, dark, mean streets. As a high bred Capricornian I like being aloof, all alone… “Me, myself, in the middle of my world” type. But that day there were ominous dark clouds gathering overhead and within thus making my heart skip a beat or two. The numbing silence seemed like the harbinger of something unexpected, unreal or maybe something really out of the blue.

After covering around three quarters of the way to my college, one fairly large drop of rain kissed my forehead। I transfixed my for a second or two on the menacing low altitude clouds ripe with ready to pour rain manufactured by the perennial Raingods! Within no time I found myself searching for cover. I finally took refuge under a ramshackle thatched shop just near the big church from where Mother Mary was gazing intently towards all. The rainy season has finally unleashed its fury and I was left wondering whether it was the beginning of something… as if my mind was playing a “Cat and mouse game” with my senses!! Raindrops seeped through the veins and arteries of that worn-out thatch and soaked my clothes making extremely uncomfortable and my heart sank along with the gloominess pervading otherwise. The rain, deserted town, ghostly winds presented an abstract piece of art… a kind of blank canvas on which my reddened soul have painted… very incomprehensible, partly insane piece of my idiosyncrasy. In a nearby tree high up amongst its branches my eyes caught the glimpse of a predominantly yellow striped bird the name of which didn’t occurred to me at the spur of the moment. The birdie was drenched with the onslaught of the torrential downpour but surprisingly, it seemed to be fairly enjoying the magnificence of the Rain. It reminded me how a change of paradigm can change your whole outlook of life. Just then two small kids in their squalid existence and wearing little more than their b’day suits, but only just, came within the vicinity of my line of sight. They were running along with an old cycle tyre and occasionally giving it a gentle push to sustain its momentum. They reminded me of the things we used to do during our “Salad days”. Kids, of all the things, will always remain kids whether it’s raining or not!

I was immediately drowned… no! no!! no!!!... hey!... not by the rain water or anything as such, but into a superfluous sea of nostalgic emotionality। The blurred, dusty vision of my younger self playing in the rain with my armada of paperboats occurred before me. A lean, happy-go-lucky kid of around four or five years trying to see himself as the “monarch of his little, beautiful kingdom” replete with “knights in shining armor, angels, ghosts and butterflies”… a perfectly virgin imagination akin to those stupendous stories my granny used to tell me near the fireplace during those sweet winter days of yore. I still have vivid recollection of those halcyon days when I tried to guide my paperboats through the water and when they get damaged or otherwise my heart would sink alongwith them. Childhood knows no fear of the silly rain, no sign of any nauseating duplicity. I ran after my brother’s kite trying to contain its ascent towards heaven or to fly alongwith al fresco. But my age at that time deceived my aspirations… I couldn’t touch the sky!

Years rolled down the drain and Paperboats made way for cycles and the kites for tomes। I was the happiest person in the whole, wide world… a sense of joie de vivre… the day I pedalled my cycle for over a few yards… without falling sideways. In retrospect I can say that such small moments gave us such BIG joys in our childhood but its essence is somewhere lost when we engross ourselves in speciousness associated with adulthood! As I was trying to reconcile and regroup my emotions and composure my taste buds detected something salty in and around my lips… maybe… err… I have momentarily lost my stoicness and shed some silent tears taking liberal advantage of the downpour. I took out my handkerchief and thoroughly wiped my visage erasing every sign of my vulnerability. Those silent tears acted as a panacea for my tormented soul and even though I knew that Boy’s Don’t Cry I couldn’t help myself. The pusillanimity of the post childhood era makes us a sort of mono-maniac mixed with what Vanity Fair has to offer.

The rain recede after an eternity but I still stood there intensely watching that tiny bird until it flapped its wings and flew away only to disappear in the farthest heavens. My eyes then suddenly rested on the statue of the Virgin Mary in the upper echelon of the majestic church just at a distance form where I was surveying. The Mother’s face was so full of warmth; it seemed to me that it was the metaphor for all the mother’s in the world. She was at peace with herself and I was just withstanding a storm of different order and hue! Although it know it well that if Wordsworth and his likes goes through my brand of poetry (?) they would simply do a double somersault in their graves and laugh till their bellies ached, I couldn’t but add a few disoriented lines from the pages of my diary and I’m no one but a dilettante or maybe a somniloquent!!

O’ my childhood It was so nice and fair
Full of sweet nothings and care
I carve for that tree-house
On which I dwelt
And the swing on which I played Round and square
On nature’s bosom I slept Like a monarch’s son
I dreamt about the Fairy queens and angels
And longed to touch the distant moon
It was a life so carefree and simple
Anger and hatred I knew none
A child’s life is indeed like an incarnation
On whose heart the Almighty dwells!
Oh! My childhood
It was so nice and fair
Full of sweet nothings and care
Can anyone hand me back my infancy?
Those days of a bygone era
Which were full of mirth and honey
Or was it a trance… a mirage
In the sea of deceit and duplicity?
Childhood is forever lost In the dust called life
Never to be found again
The dove still flies in my vale
And the cuckoo does sing
But I’m not to be found there …
my goodness what a miss!
Oh! My childhood
It was so nice and fair
Full of sweet nothings and care.

After my monologues with the mother I came back to reality… a grown up, intelligent (?), level headed guy who must look ahead to his future and not wander in those nostalgic memory lanes replete with laid back values, ideals, memoirs and innocence. Childhood memories can act as a philter to move ahead in the journey called life. But there’s no way I can ever forget those salad days… which were once my ultimate reality. I cannot dream of forgetting my childhood, my roots… the whole bunch of my idiosyncrasy have been sourced from it which has molded my life in an intangible way. Thinking about all these I went ahead on my way dreaming about a naive child playing with a paper boat on a really wet rainy day. My mind became the brewing ground of a new tempestuous rain and I was really not aware where to find refuge from this kind of rain… where raindrops of raw emotions and nostalgia fell in the desert like life of an unhappy child trapped in a young man’s body who doesn’t want to grow up!! “Goddammit! I’m already an hour late for college”, I said to myself and went hurriedly towards to college. I reached my destination or have I gone past it?

Written during the month of April, 2003 in Shillong, Meghalaya, India

1 comment:

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