Of Chickenpox and childhood

The thermometer showed temperature as 103 degrees. Eyes were burning and skin felt heated like never before. I closed my eyes, the external sounds started becoming more prominent. I could hear the stereo from slum next to our building playing some bollywood number, which I couldn’t comprehend. Some background chatter between men and women, gave tune a more grounded feel.

Five minutes passed, I was transported straight to Kanpur, circa 90s. The defense quaters and the cacophony during ramleela days. Same stereo sounds, coming from farway local communities, group chatter added in equal interval. The churning of merry-go-round, the shout of ice cream hawkers and the careless footsteps of kids. All together, came to me straight from the dusshehra ground, we had just in front of our defense quaters.

It wasn’t first. Surely not the last. These quick trip to childhoods, are what my moment of despair are made of. This need has a universal feel to it.

We often need excuses to take a quick trip to our exclusive childhood. Any of the senses, trigger the nostalgia. The smell of raw mango, the sound of rickshaw puller, the first fan of summers, the ghee-ka-tarka, bloom of flowers in balcony, a cut mark on arms, an aunty laughing awkwardly… the trigger is merely an excuse, to travel the place, we always want to belong.
Childhood is the secure place, which we left with zest in soul. Adulthood, forced us to compromise with certain predefined protocols by society. So, with every trigger of sense, we strive to go, where we were our hero. An escape from unsaid pity of being victim of adulthood.

Nostalgia has always been warm. Like that mohalle ki aunti who always used to send a bowl of first pickle of the season. Or, the uncle who first scold you looking at your marksheet, then ask which quater, I live in. Or, maid-cum-malishwali-cum-doodhwali-cum-storyteller amma, who grew old in our house. Nostalgia is sorted. For it is always in retrospect. It tells, the childhood has lesser at stake with every bargain. There were chances to correct mistakes. It never had pre-requisites of being guarded.

Our childhood, is our own version of nani-ka-ghar. We need to make quicker trips.


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