I am reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. It is the kind of read which has a slow but moving impact on the conscious. There is a certain weird sense of excitement mixed with fear, and even a hint of sadness. The constantly changing dials of time leaves you with a certain sense of melancholy, stillness, of being stationery while everything else is moving in time and space.
If I could travel in time, I would perhaps go back to a sleepy summer morning of an early 2000, the time when responsibilities only meant finishing the homework and fears only meant being grounded in the evening for the previous evening’s wrongdoings. I would probably hide myself in one of the numerous attics of that old, small ancestral home and watch myself enter the place, all excited and happy about being in the ‘’big’’ city, Varanasi. The big city of Banaras offered so many luxuries which my sleepy little town of Sultanpur didn’t. There were fewer hours of powercut. There were better places to eat, and there was actually a building with a lift in it. There was the second channel on t.v. – DD Metro, which broadcasted soaps like Kundli, Kalash and the ‘mother’ of them all – Kabhi Sautan Kabhi Saheli. But first I would update myself on all the happenings from my cousins, while in the attic I would laugh at the absurdity of it, and think of Youtube.
I would probably come out of the attic on her sight- Dadi (my grandmother). But then would stop myself remembering that she was a heart patient, and then I would perhaps suffice myself only with the sight of a 12 year old me eating from her hands, and hiding my face in her lap if she tried to make me eat the lauki ki sabzi. Then I would watch her walk to the washbasin, with the little me holding her hand. As she would pass through the perennially accumulated pool of water , I would definitely jump down from the attic to stop her, only to remember that it would be two years later when that water would make her rest on the bed forever. And the helplessness, sheer futility of my being there would make me cry, perhaps.
I would like to sit in the small window, (which opened to a vast playground, full of people, and trees, and cows, and dogs) hidden behind the curtain, in the breaking hours of dawn, and watch Baba (my grandfather) wake me up forcibly as I pull my sheets higher and higher, and he never giving up in his efforts despite the disapproving looks from Dadi lying in her bed. And 5mins later, would follow Baba and myself in the narrow lanes of Banaras, as we set off for our morning dose of fresh, healthy air. A group of cows would approach, lost in their own paradise, and seeing the scared look on my face, I would try to tow them away, but Baba would already be there. I would feel sad then knowing that 10 years later a similar cow would cause much pain to him. Now both of me (s) would be equally excited on seeing that beautiful little temple outside the Sanskrit University Gate. The 12 year old me, because the road was so wide there, and the median was decorated with plants and designs, and it felt an achievement to stand there; and the 22 year old me because of seeing that temple after years, and with the knowledge that it was the temple where ‘Ganga’ in Ram teri Ganga Maili stays in the movie, and that would most probably bring to my mind the picture of a white saree clad Mandakini under the waterfall, and I would shake away the feeling disapprovingly with guilt.
Now there would be no point of hiding, with the hoards of people jogging away their morning blues in the lush green campus of the university. I would try to decipher the hymns which Baba always chants, but his voice would get lost in the temple bells, chirping of birds, and bhajans playing in the Shiv temple in vicinity.
Perhaps sensing my fatigue, Baba would ask me to go rest in the temple while he completed his rounds of ‘vyayam’. Then I would be confused where to go- with him or with me. I’d probably stop with myself, on the opposite side of the pillar, with shoulders back to back. I would try to listen to my thoughts, to know what was I thinking at that moment. Perhaps about the jalebi-samosa that Baba would get my on the way back, or the breakfast that Mummy would be cooking at home, or the Chutti-Chutti episode of last day, and praying to Shiv ji that there is no power cut at that time.
And then our stomachs would grumble. Some things stay the same over years, and the bowel motion is one nasty little such thing. While I would prefer travelling back to my time, the little me would cling to Baba as he appears and in a very nonchalant manner, and brings a waterfull of bottle and directs me to an empty space guarded by shrubs. I would run, holding my belly tight.
And I too, would move back to my time, to avoid the sight, and the overwhelming power of memories. Will it make me happy that it was, or will it make me sad that it is not, I know not. Such is the nature of memories, intriguing.