Like every day, I am drowning in the ocean of my memories. It seems like all this took place in my previous birth. Or all this occurred just yesterday?
Summer break has started, and many parents have begun planning various activities to keep their kids busy. I used to spend my summer holidays at my nani‘s (maternal grandmother) house along with my cousins. My maternal grandparents lived in an old house with numerous roshandaan and a large courtyard.
Roshandaan were high ceiling windows in old houses in Pakistan and northern India which provided both skylight and air. But at my nani’s house, roshandaans were the openings from where jinn (spirits or ghost that possessed humans) used to creep in stealthily to scare children when they created a ruckus.
My maternal grandparents had migrated from Punjab province from present-day Pakistan to Delhi, India during partition. They brought along with them nothing but stories and memories of their beautiful land.
My great grand nani (my mother’s grandmother) used to share incomplete stories and tales from her birthplace in Pakistan. She used to pine for her farms, the rope swing on the peepal tree and her village.
My nani used to keep a good stack of storybooks ready for me to read after I used to get tired of playing with my cousins.
My real life got intertwined with the stories I read and stories I heard. Stories reduced the gap between fantasy, imagination, and reality.
At night, all my cousins were huddled together on wooden charpoys or manjis with pillows, light cotton blankets, and mattresses. A torch and water-filled big earthen Matka or pot were filled with water on a small table.
I didn’t know that sleeping under the open night sky on the terrace and gazing at the sky lit with stars and celestial lights will be a luxury soon.
The air was sweet and filled with the heavy scent of Madhu Malti (Rangoon Creeper) and mogra (Queen of the night) which grew abundantly in the backyard of the neighboring house.
The sound of small nocturnal creatures finding food and our giggles broke the stillness of the night.
Last year, the big bright open house was bulldozed, and its place now stands closed, boxy and modern apartments. The new structures have all the modern amenities but have lost its character, history, and memories.
As per Hindu philosophy, past and future do not exist in reality. Our mind creates an illusion, and we cling to the mirage of emotions and thoughts. Our mind creates an interpretation of the past events and records every bit of it. These are not real events but only memories and impressions of the past actions, thoughts, dreams, desires, and emotions.
Is it better to lock these memories in an old trunk and live our present unaffected by it or should we open the vintage attic trunk some afternoon and soak in all the memories?