Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Morning Blues

I am convinced that I am going to die in the near future! People say that when you are dying, scenes from your life pass before your eyes like a flashback in slow-motion. I don't know if there is any validity to this or not, but if it is true, then I am dying a very slow and protracted death right now. For several months now, I feel almost constantly nostalgic and everything I encounter seems to remind me of something else that happened to me at some point in my life.

I was walking down the street yesterday - the rains have really made the grass spring up and I flashed back to when I was younger and lived in Hyderabad - our house was the only one in several streets which had grass between our front compound wall and the street - my father tended to this grass lovingly (in the arid climes of Hyderabad), but every couple of weeks we'd have a street-person ring our bell to ask if they could dig up the grass for some food or money. Again, a few days ago I was eating some papads. And suddenly I remembered a time when I was in the 9th class. I was sick and home alone one afternoon when an old Muslim gentleman came by selling papads door-to-door. He beseeched me to buy some papads which he told me his young motherless daughter made all day and which he sold. He looked like he was on the verge of tears, and I was moved into buying two large packets of them. It was not until he left that I looked at the label which said "Mahalakshmi Pappadums, Made in Coimbatore".

Another time I was in church and I remembered how all my childhood and adolescence my parents, sister and I would set out early Sunday morning and walk in the chilly, dewy morning to our church about half a kilometer away and back. I hated Sundays because although we got to eat a more elaborate breakfast and didn't have to go to school, I didn't get to spend enough time with my parents. It was the only day I was home all day with my parents but they were always busy on Sundays - my father shopped for vegetables and meat, my mother did a massive batch of cooking and cleaning, both my parents did the week's laundry... and it seemed that my sister and I could never do anything without getting in somebody's way. By the afternoon, my parents were exhausted and would take long naps and my sister and I had to amuse ourselves very quietly. But for children (which my sister and I were) with a whole day's energy pent up, it was quite impossible to do that - I don't think I even enjoyed reading on Sundays - and that is very unusual for me. Strangely, it seemed that it was always hot on Sundays - even in the winter. Anyway I hated Sundays - and the dislike still persists. And now that I am grown up, I hate Monday mornings too...

Yet another time I was walking down a sidewalk in Ames which had a very unusual pattern of paving - little squares. And I remembered the evenings when I was a child when my mother would decide that she, my sister and I were going to walk back home from school. There were two ways of getting home - the most direct one was a busy main road - it was dusty and full of traffic. There was a Muslim cemetery on this road which always fascinated my sister and me because the gravestones looked beautifully carved and had Urdu writing on them - we did not read Urdu, so the writing could mean anything we wanted it to - we went for extremely romantic stories with touches of the Arabian nights - we were convinced that most of the people buried there had died of heartbreak or some other equally romantic reason. There also were heaps of jasmine flowers growing wild there. My sister and I were fascinated by the graves and she asserted that when our mother died, we would bury her there. Other points of interest along the way were: a mechanic's shop which had the most gorgeous assistants who never seemed to do anything but oaf around and look handsome; a castle which I believed was haunted which eventually was sold, demolished and a state-of-the-art hospital was built on the spot; a seedy restaurant which sold delicious candy for 5 paise which my mom would never let us go into; a large white wall with a seat built right into the middle of the wall - it had an ornate concrete back which I thought looked like a throne and I always pretended to be an extremely regal and imperial queen when I sat on it - no one other than me ever seemed to sit on it and I never quite understood who had built it and what purpose it served other than to function as my very own dusty and hard throne. This was an interesting road, but we always walked back home this way and it was not the one we liked best. The one we loved was the longer, windy one through the defence campus. It was a shady avenue - broad, well-kept and the only traffic on this road consisted of a few vehicles entering or exiting the defence labs. The road home was almost twice as long - maybe two kilometers and it seemed like an eternity to us children before we got home. But we loved it - the trees were beautiful and there were little benches for us to sit on. And the sidewalk was paved with beautiful tiles with tiny squares. They reminded my sister and me of the Cadbury chocolate bars and we christened the avenue - "Cadbury's Road". I always had been a child with a wild imagination and the long walk back home on a chocolate road made my already overactive imagination run riot - I'd make up stories to tell my sister on the way and imagine myself in adventures that made Indiana Jones seem like a silly little amateur. My sister and I always gave a whoop of delight when my mother announced that we were going home by Cadbury's Road. That sidewalk in Ames with the tiny white squares reminded me of those halcyon days.

I am constantly remembering. Maybe I am dying! Or maybe I am just homesick and nostalgic and miss my family. Or maybe I'm just growing old, broody and sentimental.


Aarti said...

That was beautiful - but depressing :( And NO, you're not dying! You still need to complete ur PHD, take up ur internship, get some experience, and open ur own clinic, get rich, move to Florida - and THEN, we'll come visit u! ;)

Nisha Stephen said...

Ashu, it would not be long before we can see all those places again !!!!

But ya, sounds rather nostalgic... at one point in your blog, I just felt that the city you are speaking about is no more familiar to me.... It has indeed been a very very long time. I can now relate to a person when they say "That has been a very veyr long time back......"

I had never imagined that I would slowly forget Hyderabad, a place I stayed for what?? 22 years!!! Gosh.... I should really go back home :)

Love this blog of yours..

Beautiful Mind said...

thats a great piece of narration .
As children lots of us have the same experience.During the time I was reading this, I was walking with my brother through the lonely roads and story telling!

If you are talking about a Deja vu ,it does not connect to death it means your mind is having those impressions the most.

And you are sure not going to die till another 50 years!

Azalea said...

Aarti, Nishu and Anoop, Thank you very much for the lovely comments. I don't think I am dying either - just feeling sentimental and homesick. Thanks a bunch anyway!

Aarti - am not moving to FL. Will move to some other scenic place not infested by hurricanes.

Nishu - you're making me cry. :-)

Anoop - thanks for the wish for a long life. It's nice to know that you reminisce too... you must write about it.