Thursday, August 12, 2010

Return to Innocence

“Sach hi kehti thi, jo bhi Ammi kehti thi
Jab mere bachpan ke din the, chaand pe pariyaan rehti thi”

When was the last time you laughed? Really opened up and let out a guffaw? Chortled till your insides hurt? And not at another joke, but at the sheer joy of being alive, of returning to the lost innocence of finding ecstasy in the simple things strewn all around you.

I returned to Chandigarh yesterday for another of my overnight stays. And as has become wont with me since she shifted to Mohali, took a surreptitious drive just outside Jasmine’s house. Now, Jasmine is the 5 year old who was 2 when I first met her. We were both once tenants at the same house and for the first few months after I shifted there, shared little more beyond quizzical looks whenever we passed each other around the premises.

And then came the day when she deigned it fit to come visiting. It was almost noon and I was just sitting down for a late breakfast. Although not yet able to walk without faltering, she nonetheless matched me toast-for-toast, orange-for-orange, before announcing that she was going home for lunch! And as she left, she elicited from me the promise of getting her a toy when I returned from office that evening. But as is usually the case, I forgot all about it till I got into my car at the end of a long day. The thought of going back to the comfort of my bed also brought with it the memory of my promise to her. But since it was too late for the toy shops to be open, I had to settle for a couple of balloons from a roadside vendor.

I got home, summoned my helper and before he started warming the food, asked him to go and give the balloons to Jasmine. He did one better-he went and called her over. And this is when I experienced a moment of the kind that we see all around us but are too busy to cherish.

Jasmine came, frowned at me and then noticed the balloons. Her smile said it all-she was thrilled! But what was even more amazing was the involuntary chuckle that escaped her. She was actually laughing with glee, at a present as meagre as a pair of balloons! She pranced about for a bit, helped herself to some dinner (her second for the night!) and though I did not get a goodnight kiss, I did sleep with a huge smile that night.

Over the next couple of years that I knew her, I shared many such moments with her. And she was always the perfect panacea to wish away the blues. She found merriment in candyfloss melting over her fingers, pride in showing me her latest outfit and an exuberant hope in demanding a puppy for her next birthday. With each action, confirming irrefutably that the real wonders exist only where there are those with the sight to see them.

The real wonders. The little, simple things that we start taking for granted as we “grow up”. If caught in a particularly bad mood, these very things can even trigger a rush of annoyance. Yeats wrote someplace that the innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time. Perhaps he isn’t all that mistaken. For there comes a time in each of our lives when we cease to enjoy anything, intent merely on amassing immaterial treasures. We stop believing in love, believing in loveliness, believing in belief itself. We possess a spirit that knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing. We hoard our smiles and measure our words. We never forget an insult, never forgive an injury.

I wonder what it would take to revisit our misplaced innocence. To find joy in a bar of chocolate divided into seven shares, to yearn to get drenched in the next rain, to think nothing of conceding defeat before our friends just to see the delight on their faces. To return to the time when fairies left us presents under the pillow and God took note of our every prayer.

Maybe all it takes is a chubby hand in yours, hauling you to the next mirthful escapade. And if you don’t have that, then the next best thing would be the memory of a chubby hand.

I have been planning to meet Jasmine for ages now, ever since she shifted out of what was once “our” house. My drives towards Chandigarh are always crammed with plans of meeting her-where we would go, what we would do. But the moment I pull into the city, all plans go flying out of the window. A strange dread grips me-what if she has forgotten me? It is not easy to live with the memories of a beautiful time gone by, never to come again. But it would be impossible to live without the hope of that time ever returning. Without the consolation, however feeble, that it will all go back to being the way it was.

So I continue to make plans that may never bear fruition. And giving me company is the warmth of a chuckle.


  1. Even thought My eyes are watery, because of your wight background and frail color. hence my nitpick,complain, I very much like your little story here. To share a personal story.. When I was much younger, I LOVed Candy so much. I Use to request otherS to bring me Some. Humans are to error, some use to forget and others didn't.. As A child I took it for granted. The once that remember us are those we adore the most.:)

    Ps.. LOVE IT..

  2. I am so damn sorry for the blog template-tried to experiment with it but it just keeps going from bad to worse. And i just cant figure out a way to get the original,plain template back.
    And you are right about never forgetting the ones who never forgot us.
    But i heard someplace that children forget after a while-just hope it isnt true !

  3. Hate to say this, but yeah they do forget after while.. They usually remember the best once the worrest, Well atleast I do..lool..

    hope you get your template back.. all the best..

  4. As I once wrote,

    "I wanna be a child again, I wanna run wild again, I wanna dance in the rain, Play with a toy train, What loss what gain, Life stayed the same"

    btw...nice background...

  5. @Adarsh-Its a crappy background and i know it ! But i just dnt know how to change these things,so am not even going to bother any more!
    And yes,your thoughts are a pretty accurate assessment of what these small joys once meant to us.
    Wonder when i will get over my fixation with her though !!

  6. lol....i wasnt being sarcastic...its a decent background...just that it doesnt go with the kind of blogs you write...

    n y do u need to get over d fixation, shes d inspiration for a lot of gud writings o urs :)

  7. Wow! Nice template! ;)

    This post rang so true. I feel the same way whenever I am with the kids.The kids love u selflessly and no amount of happiness can match upto the few moments of bliss spent with them.The kind of innocent questions they ask, surely makes u smile before u start answering them. N i so agree with the fact that children forget so easily n we fear being forgotten by them.
    I esp liked this 'We possess a spirit that knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.' Sadly,as we grow,we begin to use the terms 'value' and 'price' interchangeably!

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  9. I like the way your writing captures the innocent joy of children. We adore it, but yet with age, we lose the ability to fully express the same open-hearted cheer.

    I am not quite sure I like it when people complain about not being able to "be like a child" anymore. What stops us and why? Balloons are always pretty and candy-floss is always sticky & yummy! We just need to be able to let ourselves enjoy the feeling of the sheer enjoyment of life's little pleasures!

  10. @Jaspreet-thanks ! Glad u liked it.

    @Dee-nobody forgives with as much grace as a child. Maybe thats because they have the little joys of life to find solace in, to renew their hope from.

    @Sidra-thanks ! Glad u liked it.

  11. I love this post. Joy is in the simple things, truly

  12. @Ritu-real happiness is nothing more than good health and a poor memory. Is that why children are so happy??

  13. @ Brijender: My grandpa had the same philosophy! Only, he called it good health, bad hearing and poor memory! Guess it works :)

  14. @Dee-great minds think alike !!
    Btw,read ur post on SF-but i disagree on Mumbai-Delhi is the city !!

  15. @ Brijender: No one can ever convince me to be on Delhi's side in the "which city is better" debate. Even though I grew up in Rajasthan, Bombay/Mumbai is the city of my heart. If you we are ever there together, I will show you countless reasons why! :)

  16. @Dee-even though we are not at Delhi together(and even though i myself am not in delhi), i can give u many reasons as to why i win the debate;
    the roads, the architecture, the trees, the legacy, the aura, the polity, the intellect, Ghalib, the autos, Rajpath, ambassadors with red light, CP/GK/VV. the seven cities..... and i could go on forever !
    Pity that Mumbai has none of these !!
    I rest my case ! :)

  17. @ Brijender... What What WHAT!
    I had thought that I would be gracious and not debate on this in a public form, but you have stirred my emotions too much to resist!

    I weigh all these points, and then I weigh the pleasures of being able to walk alone at random times without getting harassed, the peace of seeing the endless cycles of waves, and seeing the grace of the Queen's necklace in Mumbai. Guess who wins?