Distance doesn’t matter when memory is strong. Flashes; I call them the alternate reality, rather the true reality. They don’t faint away, change and cannot be lost easily. Perception of the reality is based on this truer reality, the reality of mind and the universe within.I tend to see things, as they are shattered passing through the prism of alternate. Physical reality, the cold, the heat, the winds are all measured, against the scale of comparison with units of inner universe. My universe contains Snow and ice, Chirs and Deodars, Apples and Apricots, Valleys and Streams, Walnuts and whatnots. It snows here when it’s winter and the cold breeze blows in summers carrying with it the unruffledness of peaks. And sometimes, it turns green, fresh green when it rains in plenty and then muddy waters gush underneath the green hanging bridges, waters that hides all the haze and clouds and in such days the drops falling off the distant grasshopper’s tail reflect the shining sun straight into my eyes, blinding them at times, such is the thinness of air. I would count the number of tin houses on the other side of the valley, across the border and then recount the mud ones all over again and at other times would search for eyes gazing at the marvel of white capped mountains
But somedays it would not rain at all and the tall bridges would stand still, even the water underneath them,
clear pristine water, the kind that contained the sun within itself. The streams would still be cold, all their waters splashed out by kids jumping all at once. The churning wheels driving stones, grinding corn and wheat would stand halted; the naïve kids splashed all their waters even. The chirs wouldn’t let the heat to close in on them and in the process turn redbrown and lifeless. During such days, sweaters would be stocked in a tin that smelled of repellants, secretly positioned in some dingy room as if the summer would never end. Sometimes I would switch on the fan and sit patiently for minutes before realizing the wickedness of power outages. All this would pass into the season of fruits, wild apricots, plums to inaugurate the fiesta and then it would rain all over again.
Somedays it snowed. No, not like in Russia. A few feet, may be a few more and in between the rounds of how much it snowed in different parts, we would count the layer of shirts and sweater and jackets. It mostly snowed in the night; I would wake up to the brightest day, white, rin-white surroundings. And then someone would walk over the lawn, stomping the snow with massive boots and creating holes in the ground, oh I still hate that. Wires and branches all thickened and illuminated and bent by snow. When it snowed during the day, I would stare at the sky, dodging the oncoming flakes and flying higher and higher. I rocketed out as the flakes stood still in sky. When not flying, I would gaze out of the window and see the first flakes martyred by concrete and grass, as they fell and melted all too soon, waiting for the first flake to sound victory. And sometimes, I would roll on a small ball of snow till it grew too large to be manned, clearing the snow from over the rooftop at other times. And before the day of snow, would be gathered in front of fireplace for days; I lost the count of day and night staring into the colors of fire. Thick black smoke settled on my face, and with every wash I would be tones fairer. I am still trying to master the art of carefully hiding the Kagri within sheets of blanket shooing away the freezing cold of unused beds. This was the time, when there were no birds, no crows, no eagles and the vultures are extinct by now. The cuckoos would all hide in faraway places and the Mainas too, all gone. Cold would peep in from corners like light enters when doors and windows where shuts, from tiny peeping holes.
Somedays, I would walk on roads, climbing little hills seeking the end of series of mountains, but they never ended, I never walked long enough. And sometimes I would break into laughter over the weird mustaches of people from plains, curved ones like the horns of a ram. Then, I would tune into FM 100.7 and be surprised, applauding the magnificent couplet that completes my universe.
Apna Dil ga Asmaana var, Kwaab sajaya Kade Kade
Kismat Apni suti rahi, Arman jagaaya Kade Kade
Somedays Dreams decorated the skies of my heart
Fate doused, only desires aroused; Somedays.
Did I forget about the variety of corns, the sweet milky one, the dry one and the maize mustaches that were in fashion. Didn’t I write about the walnut trees, its long branches that ran parallel to the ground and raw walnuts that tasted sweetest. Oh, and the tales of leopard whom everyone still confuses as a lion. I remember a million other things, like I wrote it’s a universe, harder explore all in lifetime.
Such is my universe.
But now, it has stopped its evolution, its stuck in Y2K or the year after. No new roads have been built yet, roads that break the serenity. No new houses, houses that I haven’t visited. Cuckoos still sing in the evening, like they always did. Now I wake up to the flights of aircrafts in rooms that breathe sweat, in cities of millions and walk into crowded parks, not acknowledging the presence of thousands others. Scales of my universe are too small to measure this new cosmopolitan. Like a fellow traveler I too break out at times exclaiming “Traffic here is like the great flood of 92 and it’s hot like the Moulvi’s description of the end days, doomsdays and it’s crowded like the cow shed of Chowdhry saab, filled with buffaloes and dung. ” Sadly, he didn’t last a week even. But it’s the new universe, slowly building into the mind map, at times trying to erase the older one.
For me it’s never about nostalgia, it’s about memory. The code of tribals is to move on, year after year maybe in process coming back to old spaces sometimes physically and sometimes in a day’s dream. Nothing is same as it used to be. I have learnt that I can’t step into the same river twice.
(Photo Courtesy: Amelia)