Thursday, 2 April, 2009

Just like that....

They say with each passing days incidents which are part of our lives become memories, then time dims them, ultimately they get pushed to the furthest corners of our brain to stay there till something triggers them back to the forefront of our consciousness.

This makes me compare memories with a trunk full of old clothes. I am sure you all have had experiences of sitting with your mothers, while they pulled out old trunks and then shook out old clothes smelling strongly of moth balls and faintly of some old forgotten perfume. I remember as a child I used to be facinated by old trunks-- they were synonymous to mystery, great excitement and unrevelaed treasure. If in the process I got sprayed with the accumulated dust from the piece of cloth which wrapped the trunk so be it. Not being afraid of lizards and cockroaches, a couple of their carcases or eggs never bothered me much. I loved it more when either of my parents explained in details each item that came out of the trunk--like this trunk was part of your grandmother's wedding trousseau, the fancy dark blue velvet blouse with beadwork was your grandmother's favourite one, it was done by Meher Ali who had a tailoring shop in New Market, she had a matching sari to wear this with, (it as a very memshahebi thing to possess and wear and was consiedered to be very fasionable at that time), an old dairy whose pages have become brittle and the ink has become faded, an old dry leaf used as a page mark, a fountain pen which someone had got my grandfather from Britain, an old cookie tin filled with stamps...a beautiful lady's evening purse and some beautifully embrodiered handkerchifs....a jwellery box stuffed with trinkets and stones which must have come undone from some necklace or some other piece of jwellery....I remember being awestruck with each item that came out....touch them lightly so that they do not dissolve into a thousand pieces...my imagination would take a flying leap....I would be transported to a time when my long dead grandmother was just a young girl. I have heard that she was married at the age of 16 which was quiet an age considering the time. I would start pestering my father with loads of questions like "did women during that time go out to shop like we do?"...."No"....my father would patiently explain, " all the trades people used to come to their home...they would be downstairs while the women would assmble in the first floor veranda and throw a rope down. The traders would tie their merchandise to these and then a servant would pull the rope up."... This seemed very limited way of shopping to me, but how can you be satisfied with seeing just a few of whatever you want to buy....my young brain rebelled at the thought to not being able to walk into a shop and choose. To explain the restriction my father would launch into a socio cultural sketch of the time. Then my mother would come and chip in with stories of her family's shopping. It seemed like most of the shopping was done by men at that time, or traders came home. This seemed very very unsatisfactory to me. Looking back at those time I smile at my naivitee and am so thankful for having been born in the present.