Saturday, October 03, 2009

In the Neighbourhood of Nostalgia

This post is about nostalgia. Guess it’s good to look back when you are past fifty on my life, my times, how things were then and now. How time creeps up on you, unknowingly. For those of you who think you are going to be young for ever, fact is, you aren't. You lose hair, your body grows sluggish, you spend more and more time in your past rather than in the future. I know the time when I was a teenager and wanted so very much to be twenty, I couldn’t wait. Sometimes I think I made a lot of headway, or, call it progress, sometimes I think the exact opposite. Contrary to anything anyone anywhere might imagine – least of all my son Ronnie – I was born in a village in Kerala in an age where electric lights were rare there – we had storm lanterns for light, and the nights were pitch dark and ghostly - there was no gas to cook, my mother (bless her soul) cooked on the open fire, and there weren’t ruled notebooks to write and coloured nursery rhyme books to recite from. That's why I am dense about most familiar characters that my friends refer to in their conversations. (So, you know why I have that blank look, duh!) I learnt to write Malayalam on sand spread on the ground, sitting not on a desk but on a plank of wood spread on the very sand on which I wrote. Nursery rhymes weren’t “Jack and Jill” but the following Malayalam children’s rhyme:

“Koo, koo, koo, koo, theevandi,
kookipayum theevandi,
kalkari thinnum theevandi,
vellam mondum theevandi...”

“The fire-spitting-engine goes “koo, koo, koo, koo”
It races ahead, the fire-spitting-engine,
It swallows coal, the fire-spitting-engine,
It gulps water, the fire-spitting-engine...”

You, of course, know what “fire-spitting-engine” means. I write about it a lot on this blog everyday. After all, I spend four hours of my day in it, don’t I?

It wasn’t until the third standard when I was seven that I learnt my first English alphabet, of which I consider myself, well, a – kind of, sort of – expert now. My father was away in Bombay and only at the age of eight did I join him in this city that had electric lights, cooking gas, proper classrooms, and notebooks to write my unending oeuvres. I have been in Bombay – a city I hate and love – ever since.

All the above drivel, and stuff, is the sneakiest of sneak previews, of my autobiography, still in the churn....


Javadhimzk said...

Remembering me when i'm child..
thanx about your title post
"In the Neighbourhood of Nostalgia"

ms said...

it brought back memories. my first classroom was under a tree and everytime it rained, we were sent home. a wooden slate on which we wrote with a wooden quill dipped in chalk paste. this was somewhere near nainital. looking forward to reading your autobiography!!

John said...

Java, ms,

Thanks, nostalgia touches all of us at the tender weak spots, and we do succumb to the sweetness of it, now and then :)


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