Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Skeletons in the Cupboard

I open one of the shelves in my cupboard, one that houses all my clutter. It’s a ritual I perform – cleaning the entire cupboard at the end of every semester as if the dust in there will be de trop for the next semester. It is an idée fixe and logic simply takes a backseat.

So I open the shelf. On the top is the previous semester’s junk….apologies, study material: journals worth countless nights of sleep, photocopies of class notes amounting to Bill Gates’ fortune, more Xerox copies of books that geeks penned(Yuck!) and assignments that we copied from the same books. So much for another engineering semester.

The next thing to tumble out is memories. I see memorabilia that act as passports to my past. And I embark on a trip down memory lane…

I come across stories I spun back in fourth grade. I chuckle as I read on – stories with wild names like Adventure Andromeda; characters with wilder names like Nutty, Catpole, Grondor, Spidella!! Ten is a good age to churn out stories as you have no cognizance of stupid laws of physics that your imagination must obey; you can be as small, travel as fast and still be normal in the end for a ‘happily-ever-after’. As I grew up I continued writing – practicals, journals, assignments and exams…I came to know two guys – Newton and Einstein – who murdered my imagination…..they have not been incriminated however!

I remember handcrafting a slam-book long before buying one. It had so many fields it could easily pass for a resume’! It was fun at that age – people wrote sweet things and loved others anyway. But then I grew up a little and learnt to judge, to be judged. And that really squeezed the fun out of it.

I uncover a small box that holds all the friendship bands I received in tenth grade. It warms my heart to know that such a multitude considered me as a friend. I peruse old letters from my friends nationwide; I read the cards they sent. We had all promised: we’d keep in touch…..but soon the hourglass got the better of us. Now only keepsakes remain. You see, we all grew up some more and learnt to make excuses for not writing. But I miss them bitterly….there is no excuse for that.

Next up, something I can swagger about – a letter from Maneka Gandhi! In seventh grade, I wrote to her about local issues involving animals. In her reply, she told me one thing – every movement starts with a single person; and I believed her…that I could change the world alone. I was young. Then I grew up a little more and it dawned upon me that the world changes us more than we change it. Anyone who doesn’t walk, talk or think like the world, is eyed as an alien. And publishing houses have a ball selling self-help books to these estranged souls. Maybe this is what they call Symbiosis.

Finally, I get to my personal diary. Two recent letters tumble out – one that I wrote to my father a few days anterior to his death and his unfinished reply. I and my taciturn father shared everything but our emotions. So, after not saying I love you for twenty years I wrote it out to him…I wanted to build a bridge of letters to the man responsible for my existence. He responded instantly but he couldn’t finish his first and last letter to me. The day he left, I grew up completely and realized: if we love someone, we better tell them incontinently. It’s agonizing: the only lessons they don’t teach in school are the real lessons of life.

These are the skeletons in my cupboard – not the cause of any grief, just reminders that as we grow up we lose a lot: a boundless imagination, a free spirit, a vision broader than our sight can accommodate forever friends, a point of view and a frame of mind. We leave behind times when we sat in the courtyard with friends eating soil and holding hands – without a care for infection in either our stomach or our faith; no respect for caste, creed or colour but only that human instinct: love.

I turned 21 this year and officially attained the status of a grown-up. So I pick up these disjecta membra from my childhood and adolescence and carefully put them away in a box lest I lose even these reminders of who I really was. I shut the shelf….the ritual is complete….the cupboard is clean.

4 Thinkers Pondered:

Sowmya said...

Beautiful! The fact that you realise (so many things) itself makes your position so much better than so many others' who are blissfully unaware of the tide that is carrying them. Today you merely think about them and smile a sardonic smile. But by simply thinking deeply about what you have lost, you have started the process of reviving the lost...imagination, childhood, free spirit, ....all of it.

Anupama Kondayya said...

Thank you so much Sowmya for those kind words...and also for stopping by...I read your blog regularly and always manage to take away some food for thought from your 'lettered feelings' :) Keep writing such beautiful posts!

Anand said...

Well said....

"the only lessons they don’t teach in school are the real lessons of life."

A great article.

deepocean said...

"the world changes us more than we change it" ~ what a profound thought. Wonderful post. I too feel more or less same whenever I too do a similar exercise at home. Back then, before these digital cameras came into our lives, how we would click pictures on the regular camera, wait till they developed and printed, and slowly slip into the memories of the pictures taken and again going back on the memory lane when cleaning the albums... I feel all this. Memories churned out that gives way to even more fresher and newer person - that's me!