on childhood..


I sit on the roof overlooking a vast stretch of land underneath. Rows of streets with moving red yellow lights, dots entering exiting little grey brown matchboxes, yellow-green lawns speckled here and there like pattern of clouds in the sky, at some places dense at others almost fading to pale green and white, tapering at a corner bordering the narrow exit. There is nothing in the view which the eye can hold on to. No river with a sailboat rowing across, no flock of birds migrating at this time of the year. Weary, my gaze falls inward. Slowly a mist forms and a form appears out of it, lean and tall, but the face is unclear almost hidden in the smoke of dust. He comes and sits next to me. And I start talking. Talking about the time I enacted a poem on stage in a yellow satin dress with big silver polka dots, and then later the little red plastic scooter I got as a prize I never can recall what for. Or the time when I was on the terrace of a house I no longer remember ,attending my best friend’s birthday party. I also see myself apprehensive unsure, standing in front of my father to whom I’ve just handed my first poem, and he looks at it and the sketches I’ve done for illustration and marvels at the fact that I’ve already mastered the use of comma and full stop. There are so many anecdotes I recall from my childhood, which is now almost obscure to me, like it wasn’t me who lived it. These instances might as well belong to someone else, yet I strain my memory to find more recollections of me, to link that person or person to me. And he listens to me patiently, with a smile on his face which is still covered in the mist and is now glowing. It’s as if he already knows what I’m about to say next. I want to talk to him about right now, yet I find myself drifting more and more into the past.

There are times when the space immediately around you becomes so thin, transparent that you don’t even know it exists apart from you. When you look up at the sky and stare instead at your own past, like looking into the magic ball. This quality of space around me right now fills me with a strange kind of sorrow, my head becomes numb from all the memories yearning to come out, yet I’m unaware of their individual presence. The smoky misty form never appears, day and night I go to sleep like a phantom living out of time, in an sequence which no longer makes any impression on my mind. Pages after pages are read yet what strikes me are the images not the story, as if our true memories of people and places are just stamp marks – blue green red, unchanging and sporadic, while the day to day details are the black backgrounds, now lost forever. I can string together little stories and bigger stories out of little ones, weaving a narrative of my childhood, yet there would be no voice guiding it, no one whispering in my ear, telling me about the course my life would take.


(after reading Rings of Saturn.)
(don’t tell me you never had imaginary friends. Mine were not exactly imaginary.. its interesting that I usually had/have imaginary conversations with real people. Had the contrary been true, I would have been a conjurer of fantastic worlds!)

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