There are many things I want to write about today, it’s all jumbled up in my mind. Among those are current life and current circumstance, wrt business, finance, and marriage. I have chosen to write on something that’s certainly not the most important one, but it’s very close (not closest) emotionally. That topic is how my relationship with my hometown is changing.
I am talking about my connection with my past, hometown, childhood memories, and the people who were once the most important in my life are slowly going away, never to be seen, never heard from. Those who can be only actively felt in dreams. Everything is so real in dreams, with the loved ones around, the feelings, fun, fears are so real. The dreams’ issues are so real, the actions so real, the faces of those loved ones so clear and without an iota of doubt that soon this will be considered a dream, an illusion, a mental movie of sorts.
I am talking about my dad’s death, bachhi chai (my guardian grandmother), papaji and most recently, my chaiji (maternal grandmother) who passed away in Jan 2021. How, because of the people who went away, those few who remain, those who moved out to other cities in India and abroad, and how my hometown’s landscape and culture is changing, I feel I am losing that identity.
As if I have nothing to show for if someone wants to believe my life stories. What if someone asks me to show it, prove it, I fear I won’t be able to. It seems as if whatever I will tell them about my childhood, I won’t show any part of it. My childhood memories would be a world of fiction or a dream soon.
It’s not that I want to prove it to anyone, I myself feel like a complete misfit and a stranger whenever, and for a very short duration, I go there. I roam around those places more like a tourist than an inhabitant, known to no one, talking to no one, waving to no one. I see the questions in other people’s eyes, who is this strange face in town, did he live here, is he visiting someone?
There is no one around who shared common memories, no one (apart from few relatives) to meet and share some laughs. The purpose of these visits is usually uninspiring too; it’s death, marriage, bank or property related.
But not only that, the landscape, the familiar sights, the openness and greenery, the places where you made your memories are vanishing at such a rate and in such an ugly manner that you miss those places and resent the new look at the same time. How the open playing fields are now a new colony where the people who own it, know nothing about its past, what happened here, what used to be where, which house lies on our cricket pitch and where we used to sit when others batted? Who scored a big six and up to where? Where might be that beautiful girl that lived in that house?
The roads were so empty where one could cycle carelessly, and older men sat in groups just observing passersby, the ladies fought or sat in groups during the winters. Children played in the open grounds nearby or went about plucking fruits from places known only to them, usually jamun (Indian blackberry), ber (jujube), shehtoot (mulberry), mangoes and litchis. The young adults too had secret places of their own, in some fields usually. Cricket matches in the evenings were watched by all men and kids with so much interest.
The Burger wala who sold tastiest burgers with the desi Indian version and the samosa wala which would be the victory point if you won a bet or it was someone’s birthday treat. The sugarcane juice vendor where we would pool money to get juice on our way back from school on hot summer afternoons because pooling got a bigger jug and hence more juice.
But frankly speaking, some of these places still exist, but everything seems so crowded nowadays with fast bikes and Vikram auto-rickshaws and loud honks all around that everything is just a memory, the people, family and friends, aren’t there, the carefree air, the much lesser crowd and the overall openness are gone and what is left is just a memory and fading one too.