What do you call that feeling which makes you want to go back to that roseate, colourful time in your past when all things seemed big, bright and beautiful? It’s the same feeling which lends to old Eastman coloured photographs the kind of inimitable charm that nothing can come close to equaling – just the right miscellany in the big magic saucer that makes those skies in the snapshots seem the loveliest shade of blue and the laughter on the faces the cheeriest in an eon. ‘
Missing’ XYZ would be putting it too blandly for missing denotes something you did in the past and doing it again will nullify the void. But what I am feeling at the moment is a strange dizzy making yet pleasant plethora of emotions – a longing to watch the sun set on my terrace back home with exactly the same shades of yellow and orange as it did back when I was in standard Fifth and went up to the terrace in the evening to play Badminton with Mom. The shades would often acquire a deeper tint of carmine when I would stride up and down and fret about this mean old girl in school who thought she was the deer’s horn and the cat’s whiskers as well. But I digress.
To put some order to the pell mell my mind today is, let me enumerate the top ten reasons I, err, miss home this morning.
1. Durga Puja – shopping, festivities, the works
There’s a sale everywhere in Pune and considering just how much money vamoosed from my sight in June, I have to lull my spendthrift self to sleep. As a prophylactic measure, I don’t keep much cash/card in my purse and avert my eyes from seductive Sale signboards.
If it was Durga Puja season, I could easily tuck at least seven different outfits into a chubby shopping bag. I could browse through accessories and fit my feet into strappy sandals without the fear of my conscience keeping me up all night. But apart from asinine shopping whims and sartorial desires, I also have a sudden longing for the delicious and thick bhog we get on Puja afternoons, after much toil in mile long queues. I want to hop from one pandal to the next, meeting friends and distant family and exclaiming at how tall someone has become and how marriage has lent a glow to someone’s cheeks. I want to sit in the front row and watch Dhunachi Dance on Ashtami and join in the music and dance fiesta till the wee hours of the night. Even the poignant Bijoya Doshomi morning allures me now – watching a red Holi as wedded women sprinkle sindoor on each other and noticing the tears in Durga Ma’s eyes and refusing to ward it off as imagination.
2. Ma’s alu ka parantha… with ketchup and pickle!
I don’t care how popular Chaitanya’s may be in Pune; my Granny has no comparison when it comes to paranthas. She makes them yummy and round, smooth and impossible to resist. With a topping of tomato ketchup and pickle to fidget with, she makes the best breakfast in the world. No amount of cornflakes and milk, pohas and maggi, bread and butter can dream of overpowering the parantha effect.
Come to think of it, I miss her aloo-mutter ki sabji, pyaz ke pakore and even kishmish-wali fried rice for that matter. Perhaps, what I really miss is the way her face would shine as I ate and her demeanor all animate with the big question of what to cook me for dinner.
3. Dilli ki sardi and my favourite red quilt
Few things in Pune have made me laugh as much as watching my ex-room mate shiver in the oh-so-bitter Pune winter and wince as I kept the fan on in December nights. Pune has no winter – not even the pretence of one. Apart from the occasional cool breeze that blows in late evenings and the even rarer dawn chill that can make you consider heating up your bath water, Pune is temperate all year through. There is no scope for waking up to shivering, foggy mornings with the sun packed up in some remote sector of his vast sky-bed. Breaths don’t come out in misty puffs the colour of rime. It’s never cold enough for sitting around a bonfire, hand in hand with the one you love, watching wood splinters turn from orange to red. Snuggling into a soft and snug quilt is out of the question as is a chilly Christmas with nightlights of several colours shining intermittently with Grandfathers narrating the story of The Matchstick Girl to a rapt audience.
4. The Terrace and its inhabitants
Our terrace back home boasts of some pretty flowers, oodles of sunshine and scuttling kitties. It isn’t just a terrace, he is a person. He stands there tall and erect, reminiscing kite flying contests we had there as children. He sings sometimes songs of the rain – choti si kahaani se, baarishon ke paani se – being one of his favourites. He goes gloomy as the sun sets for the day and Mom strips the clothesline and shuts the door. But he dreams of the next morning when the first rays of the sun would bring Grandpa up to inspect the big black water tanks and a humming bird or two would come rest on the dahlia plant.
I hear we have some new kitties for him to serve playground. Makes me sad, it does, to live in a flat almost clinically deprived of cats and birds. That reminds me of this dog my roommate had once brought. A complete eye opener of sorts. I fancied myself to be a dog lover till he trod all over my wishful thinking in metaphor and my bed in person.
5. The four people who know me best
No I don’t believe this bullet should have been placed right there at the top. It’s but implicit that neither Puja nor winter nor anything ‘home’ brags of can be homely without the homemakers – ah the home syndrome!
There’s my hyperactive Mom whose life revolves around her darling daughter. Then there’s my doting Dad who leads a travelling life these days, hopping from one city to the other. Our conversations are timed – a minute on the phone, a half hour online over the weekend. Considering Dad is the one I am a carbon copy of and thus the one who understands every eccentricity I possess, I miss him in the truest sense of the word. Then of course, home has Ma and Dada – my grandparents – my guardian angels. Mom dearest in one of her worked up moods often enquires if I have changed staying away from home. The you-need-me-less, love-me-less emotional sweetmeat. And though all I revert with is a giggle and lots of sarcasm, I wish she would understand how it feels.
The one who said absence makes the heart grow fonder or something to that effect, hats off. I couldn’t agree more.
Mushy me. Me mushy?
Looks like I am getting woolly headed.
— Um, guess you can say that again. —