Saturday, November 10, 2007

I have stayed in quite a few places till now but the one place I treasure the most above all is Bhopal. There is nothing special about the city as such that stays in my mind, like Goa, but it is the good times that I had there that remain with me forever.
My dad started his career in Bhopal as an engineer in BHEL, soon after college. Quite a few more college freshers had joined with him, so naturally they kinda came together and formed a group. Most of them were out of towners, young, bachelors, need I say anything more. Dad was the first one to get married in the group so obviously my mom was the favourite bhabhi. Even today when she remembers those times, her eyes get a faraway wistful look. They had such a great time together. Once she told me that there were so many times that all the others from the gang would just turn up at the house at midnight after a late night movie and ask her to cook them dinner as they were starving. In those days she would get annoyed at them but now she would give anything to get all of it back.
Eventually all of them got married and then of course we kids came along and became close friends. We were all like a big family, living in different houses. Weekends were never dull and were never spent at home. We celebrated all the festivals and other national holidays together. Usually we would all gather at one person’s place for a pool dinner, light a campfire, if it was winters and spend the night singing and dancing and laughing and eating. There was some special bond that held us all together. A group outing on the 15th of August and 26th of January was a must.
And Holi, oh man, everyone was crazy. A couple of weeks before holi, on a Sunday, we would all go out on a picnic and gather those special flowers which bloom only during this time ( I don’t remember its name). I used to call them holi flowers and we were supposed to make colours from them. We tried it every year, it never turned out the way we wanted it to be but still it was an adventure. On the day of holi we would all be wearing our whites and gather at someone’s house. We would play till late afternoon screaming and shouting and running and come home black ( the men’s kurtas were usually torn to rags by this time) have a leisurely lunch and fall into our beds and sleep like logs.
I remember once we had all gone for a tour of the state in our cars. I was a kid at that time so don’t remember the places we visited but I do remember visiting some forts and monuments and remember that we drove around the entire night. No-one was tired and nobody wanted to stop. We were all together and that was all that mattered.
There are so many incidents, some insignificantly small others not so. I don’t think this space is enough for all those memories. The details of each moment are etched so clearly in my mind. I still remember the moment when my dad told me that we were moving. I refused to believe him initially, I thought he was kidding. I remember crying myself to sleep in the nights. I never told my parents how much it hurt me to leave all of it behind; I knew it pained them too. We had a grand farewell party, a trip to Manali. I don’t think I can ever forget that. It was our last outing together.
Even today when we talk to them, it does not feel like we have not met each other for ages. We just pick up from where we left off. The entire group is scattered all over the world now, but we are still there for each other, still keep in touch. Last winter we were in Bhopal again, unfortunately I reached a day after my parents. They had a big get together on the previous night and were up all night talking. No body felt like going home. Even now as I write about it, my heart feels heavy and all those times come rushing back to me. We all have different lives now but still there is something that holds us all together. I have my own day to day routine to keep me busy but during these festive times which one should spend with the family, those memories come back to haunt me and I wish I could turn back the sands of time. I don’t think I have the strength to continue anymore. All I can say at this point is:

Gates of memories will never close,
How much we miss our friends no-body knows,
Days will pass like years,
We will remember the memories in silent tears.

Friday, November 2, 2007

She was around 2 feet tall, had bright intelligent eyes, light brown hair and she walked with a grace that would put a cat to shame. She had a pride of a Queen but yet she was very approachable and made friends with everyone ranging from small kids to old uncles and aunties. But she could be very ferocious if you made her cross. The bravest souls would crumble before her if she was mad. She was the darling of our entire colony; we called her ‘Cookie’. She was the grandest street dog I have had the chance to come across.

She did not belong to one family in particular; she belonged to our entire lane. She would walk with us to our school (which happened to be very close) and hang around there the whole day playing with the kids during break time, then walk back with us once the school was over. My friend and I used to go for long walks in the mornings and evenings, she would accompany us then too. We would feel safe with her around us. Boy was she possessive. If we showered our attentions on any other street dog, she would not do anything while we were around but once our backs were turned that dog would get it. The most ferocious of dogs were scared of her and treated her with reverence. It embarrasses me to say it but my dog is a big time coward. Sometimes even a cat would scare him. He showed that he was jealous of cookie whenever we paid her any attention but definitely felt stronger with her around when we used to take him for walks. He would turn from a rat to a tiger in her presence.

We used to keep our gate bolted to prevent all the other street dogs from entering, but she would elegantly open it and stroll in and perch herself on the seat in the yard. If she saw something outside that she had to be a part of she would deftly jump over the wall and be outside in a jiffy. My dog would be left behind wondering stupidly ‘how in the world did she manage such a Herculean task’.

Gosh I miss her! Last year my brother visited our old home and he saw her. He said that she had grown old and weak now and did not recognize him. She was never the over affectionate type of dog who would start licking every part of your body their tongue gets access to, but she did not show a single sign of recognition when he approached her. Not even a wag of her tail. Then one day my brother called and said that one of his friends informed him that she passed away. I didn’t know what to say. I cannot imagine her as a weak dying dog. She would always be the extraordinary super dog to me and that is how I remember her and always will. Maybe she is out there somewhere in the doggy heaven amazing the others up there. I love you cookie.

Sometimes I wonder if people thrive on sadness. There is this friend of mine, she is a very nice person and everything, but sometimes I get the feeling that she enjoys being in the state of depression. She is an amazing writer and writes lovely poems. She loves to read others blogs too and keeps sending me the links of what she likes the best and I have found that most of the times the blogs she likes are way too depressing even to read. I understand people who have written them have done it as a way to deal with the pain in their lives and I have no issues with that. In fact there is no better way to let go of all the emotions whirling inside you but I don’t see why she has to pick out these specific blogs to read and worse share them with me. I have tried to tell her so many times, directly and indirectly that I don’t like reading such sob stories but that does not stop her from sending me.

I am not being insensitive towards other people’s misery and I do sympathize with them, and once in a while it is nice to read such blogs because I think it is when people are in pain they pour their heart out in their writing and their inner emotions come out. But it gets kinda annoying when she keeps sending me these links consistently. But then I guess she goes through such stuff because she is going through a rough phase in her life and I dunno maybe by reading these articles she can related to those people and be assured that there is someone else out there who has been through the same things as her. On the other hand though, wouldn’t it be better to read something funny, something lively and positive to take your mind off it? By reading such unpleasant stuff isn’t she distressing herself more?

When I am feeling blue, and I have said it before, I like to think about all my favorite things to get my mind off the thing that is hurting me not dwell over it. I try to send her cheerful articles but she just doesn’t seem to take to them. It’s like she has given up on life and the chance of happiness. She has started believing that she does not deserve to be happy and if by mistake something comes along that will make her life beautiful, it will be snatched away from her soon. I have tried to talk to her so many times, even scolded her at times. I wish there was some other way I could help her out. Put her out of her misery.