Ramblings on the Past, by Naina Sarda

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This article has been submitted by Naina Sarda for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.

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We don’t remember most of the first three or four years of our lives. I suppose we must have all done similar things during those first three years. Then, for the next ten to twelve years we become slaves to the alarm clock, our lives busy with all the homework and mischief we can manage in the little time we have in our school days. The rest of our lives, at least to the extent that I’ve heard from other people, is going to be full of troubles. Most of them would choose to relive their childhood over having to live through their present life. I don’t understand. Why are we so crazy about that age in our lives, when we barely knew what we were doing? Why do we wish to go back to the time when we used to mindlessly do things, without really giving it any thought?

I guess it’s because that was the phase where every random person smiled at us across the street and we wouldn’t get offended but would instead give a smile in return. The phase when the truth was always at the tip of our tongues, without a thought for the consequences.

The phase of life that makes one into the person one becomes is childhood. The first seven to nine years are filled with memories that are dear to each one of us. There are many ‘first- times’ and literally everyday was an adventure, though we didn’t really know it then. Tears came of their own accord; they weren’t planned or thought over. And what would accompany the tears would be the wailing sound that would echo around the entire house and, well, make you very proud of yourself. And the reasons for crying were just as silly, not reasons to worry or fret over, probably just to get a pack of colors or have a round on the bike. This was probably the phase where we thought television showed real things happening somewhere else. I used to wonder why there aren’t songs and dances in actual life during any happy moments and from where the background dancers appeared suddenly.

I remember when summer vacation was called the ‘hundred days’ holidays.’ When, along with my sisters, I used to buy stick ice cream for one rupee once a week, and hide the fact from the rest of my family. When we used to hire bicycles for two and a half rupees an hour and then move about on the streets howling and hooting like rowdies. When I rolled a chapatti for the first time, and it was a disaster, and yet I was applauded. When the only thing that disturbed me were writing the multiplication tables and repeating them to dad every evening. When ‘four pillars’ and ‘wall touch’ were played by all, irrespective of age. Carrom boards would hold our attention for hours together in afternoon. When darkness didn’t scare me while hiding inside the cupboard shelf and peeping through the key holes while playing hide and seek, when seven people ate Maggie in one plate under the blue sky and fought to have their share. When fighting meant slapping, kicking and pulling hair – forgotten overnight. When nothing was worse than taking an injection syringe. When hostel meant being beaten with sticks forever. When watching television meant watching Tom and Jerry.

No power cuts would annoy me in summer, for televisions would hardly have us for viewers. We would be happy waking up early and playing badminton, bearing the weight of the heavy shuttle with our little hands.

We used to play ‘ghar-ghar’, rolling a sheet of cloth and assuming it to be sari and go on to behave like aunties. We didn’t mind being holed up in a small room, for hours together playing inside. In fact I enjoyed being a spectator to the games more than actually being a part of it. Those days when the doors would be my chalk board and the tiles on the floor were my students. When talking on phone was a moment of pride and finding my grand pa’s name in telephone directory made me feel he was a celebrity. When I would think the moon was attached to our white Ambassador through an invisible thread because it followed us around wherever we went in that car! When I would yearn to become tall, so that I could look outside from the veranda without having to use the stool that kept shaking. When growing up meant becoming tall, fat and authoritative, and nothing more.

That was the time when you acted without thinking and you were praised. Today you act after thinking and go wrong most of the time. Where is the mistake then? I guess this is the very essence of life, to be given the best things and later have it stolen, simply to truly know its value. It is life’s cruel irony how we yearn to become older when we’re young and then yearn to become a child again once we’re all grown up. Sometimes it makes sense to me because we’re nothing more than greedy creatures, always looking for what we can’t have. I don’t understand why these inexplicable problems exist, why we humans are the way we are, why there are these memories, these rules, this system of life defined by school-college-job-marriage-death. I guess Mr. Jim Butcher was quite right when he said, “Life would be unbearably dull if we had answers to all our questions.”

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Naina Sarda resides in the cosmopolitan city known for its language, nawab-i culture, biryani and, of course, Charminar. She is a lass that tried various things coming her way, finally ending up in a course chosen by 6 out of 10 people in India – engineering. The three hours writing the CLAT last year were her three best hours spent writing an exam, but she perhaps wasn’t made for it. She aims to become a “somebody” some day from the nobody that she is today. She spends her time doing various things that make her life interesting – writing, nature photography (preserved as blogs), gardening, cooking, trying her hands at art are a few. As of today, she is waiting to see where her interests take her.

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