Many Moons Ago


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Back then, they would air Titanic every New Year’s Eve. Rose would kiss Jack in the jeep, the window fogging up to the world outside. The three of us would watch entranced as dolphins swam alongside the great ship, the sunrays lighting up the morning. It was only when Rose would decide to pose for a certain pencil-sketch that we would bury our heads in a pillow. Jack would have to finish alone.

My Mama and Mami were much sought after every holiday season. They brought along dozens of stories, fruits specially picked up from Dehradun and of course, my two cousins. Gautam Bhaiya and Raja. As soon as they would arrive, our dynamic trio would scamper away to the little room downstairs and jump like monkeys from one subject to the other.

“I told her she was an elephant. She immediately tore open a new packet of Uncle Chips.” “Raja lost the wrestling match the other day. I pushed him from atop the cupboard!” “Seen the Christmas tree yet? Mom and I made the decorations with cardboard.”

Mami would barge into the room at lunch time. “Poor deaf children. We will take you to the doctor this evening.”


“We have been calling you up for the last one hour!”

Without further ado, we would fly up the stairs and set the nostrils to work. Tomato soup, chicken, pulao, aloo dum.Β Holiday food always tasted delicious. They didn’t make it like that for school tiffins.

On the last day of the year, when Titanic had sunk and our eyes drooped, the grownups would put us to bed. We would be snuggled under quilts and the lights would be dimmed. Then they would all settle down for music, hot coffee and snacks till midnight.

We were indignant. It was sheer injustice.

“Just because they are grown-ups, doesn’t mean we will be mum. I want coffee too!” “And I want some of those veg-chops they are having.” “Let’s go tell them what we think of their behaviour. Putting us to sleep!”

All energized, we marched into the TV room. Everyone stared. “Did you kids need something?”

“Yes. I want coffee!” “And I want veg-chops.” I looked around to find something that interested me. “I want aloo bhujiya.”

So determined did we sound, that even to our surprise, the grownups complied. We sat around on mattresses, munching and chomping and guzzling.

“Don’t you think it’s time to sleep now?” Mom said after a while. “You don’t want to be late getting up the first day of the year.”

Gautam Bhaiya was looking earnestly at something outside the window. Fireworks, in all colours of the palette! He winked at us. “Can the three of us sleep up in the terrace room tonight?”

From the corner of my eyes, I saw Raja smuggle some of the aloo bhujiya in his pyjama pocket. “Please Mamma. We promise to fall asleep fast.”

Permission was granted and at midnight, the beds were rearranged. The terrace room had a sliding window overlooking the road outside. Up above was Delhi’s dusty sky, speckled here and there by a rare star. The best part was: while in the room, you had a terrific view of doggies being taken for a late walk, the kids of the laundry wallah engaged in a scuffle and that night, the fireworks set off by the young Punjabi couple who had newly moved into the flat across the street.

“The kids are sure to oversleep tomorrow. Will probably be up at noon.”Β We heard Mama say. “Oh I assure you they’ll rise at the crack of dawn.” Dad remarked.

We gazed at the fireworks in awe. They lit up the December sky gloriously. Munching the smuggled loot, we didn’t realize when Lady Sleep arrived on tiptoe and carried us away to her land of slumber.

I remember I was dreaming about waterfalls. They were in all colours, much like the New Year fireworks. The water gurgled and gushed melodiously, before it started buzzing. What water buzzed? The noise went up, up, up till I could stand it no more.

I jerked out of sleep. A giant housefly jerked with me, almost pouting at being disturbed. Gautam Bhaiya and Raja were already up, scratching their ears. A whole procession of giant houseflies seemed to have taken over the terrace room. In the blink of an eyelid, we escaped and landed in the living room downstairs. Not everyone seemed to be up. Dada and Dadi were sipping tea.

A sleepy Dad grinned at Mama, sitting up in the makeshift bed on the floor. “What did I tell you?”

The clock on the mantlepiece struck six.


* This entry is a part of the contest at in association with


52 thoughts on “Many Moons Ago

  1. wondering how being unknown to each other and have lived in different cities and states and sometime countries too, we all have similar childhood ? And then they say ‘the world is a small place’..sure it is..cause that’s how we come to know each other be it via blogs : )

    lovely account!

    • That is a very interesting observation, Scribby. Yes indeed. We all have childhood ‘moments’, high school ones, summer vacation ones. No matter how varied our lives have been otherwise. The world is a small place indeed and I am very thankful to the blogosphere for showing us how! πŸ™‚

      Glad you liked it! πŸ˜€

  2. I invented a time machine now..
    who all wanna join?

    This is brilliant stuff Debo..summer holidays were awesome.. creams..chilled squash drinks..on the terrace during power cuts watching the sky..sleeping the balcony..

    Grr..I hate the nostalgia virus at times 😦

    • I am in! I get a free ticket, don’t I Bhavia? For friendship sake? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
      Raw mangoes… yum! Orange and pineapple squash. Jellies. Custards. And unlimited nimboo pani. Ah! I miss those good times so much it hurts. Agree with you. Sometimes the bug can get really tiresome.

        • Open source is cool. Make sure you arrange for licencing when the no. of passengers goes up. πŸ˜›
          Yeah, both salted and sweet would taste like heaven. Esp. after we were all grimy and dirty. And sweaty!

  3. All the food me droooling…and reminds me of my own holiday times wid my grandparents during summer …can we get those dayyyys back… pls 😐

  4. What lovely memories and how beautifully presented, Debo πŸ™‚ Reminds me of my own summer trips to my granny’s place. It used to be so much fun with all cousins jamming together, silly games, pillow fights… ah, there was everything that I today miss so so much!! Thank you very much for this wonderful piece πŸ™‚

    • Oh yes, the pillow fights! How can I forget those! Vacation time used to be such fun. I miss those afternoons with the sun trickling in through the window and the evenings spent playing badminton.
      Delighted you liked it Arti… thanks a ton! πŸ˜€

  5. Lovely, heartwarming post, Debo πŸ™‚ You’re so right about that part to do with food πŸ™‚ They never used to make that for tiffin πŸ˜€ and they dont (make that I dont :D) make it like that anymore, because the kids are no longer there 😦 One for a short time, a lovely lovely short time, where we pack in a whole years’ longing for living it up πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
    Loved it really, so very much!

    • They sure do not, Usha Di. 😦 Holiday food would be so yum. It would a much thought about delight the first day the school broke up for holidays. I loved the way you put that – so much longing goes into it all and how we do live it up!
      Thanks a lot… really happy you liked the piece. πŸ™‚

  6. We used to visit our maasi’s and bua’s once in 2 years…since we lived very far from our native and vacations had to be taken judiciously

    But once there, the ‘toli’ would create a riot. The most noticeable thing would be the elders tucking us away to sleep and the little ones going right back to the living room stating we too want to hear you chat and talk. No amount of shooing and threatening would be of use. Apparently the elders used to talk till 2 or 3, and the kiddos would have fallen asleep by 11 πŸ˜›

    Loved the narrative Debo πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • Toli is right. Hahaha! πŸ˜€ I know, back then, what the elders were talking about and the fact that they could stay up for as long as they wanted, was very vexing. On top of that, the three of us were big-time foodies. πŸ˜€

      Thanks for dropping by, Visha. Glad you liked the narrative! πŸ˜€

  7. Lovely! πŸ™‚
    So many memories!!
    I don’t have any contact with my cousins now, but the childhood memories, spending time with them are some of the most precious ones! πŸ™‚

    • Summer vacations were awesome, no? When do we get such breaks again? You know, when you can actually do nothing and watch the afternoon slip away?
      Thanks a lot Tanishka! πŸ˜€

    • “A world where only kids lived.” I like that! πŸ™‚ That world was so beautiful and little joys spread all over. πŸ™‚
      Glad this one brought some pleasant memories back. Thanks BA!

    • What wonderful two months they used to be! Mom and I would sit and work on charts and projects. I would set Nani to colour a flowering tree. She is very good at it. πŸ™‚

  8. Ah, took me to time back too when we used to visit our grandparents and Delhi and every night slept on the roof. The mosquitoes gave us company at night, and the houseflies came early to take shift from them. But at that time, it never appeared to us how much fun we were having. Seems like the enjoyment doubles up in retrospect.
    Lovely post, as always

    • The mosquito and housefly shifts go on in every household it seems. I loved the way you put it. πŸ˜€
      Indeed, Jyoti. Now when I think about those days, it is amazing just what kind of pure happiness resided in the heart. Unparalleled, I tell you.
      Thanks a lot! πŸ˜€

  9. BEautiful Deb’s .. brought back so many memories .. seemed nostalgic to me .. You see My mum are 6 sisters and only we lived in the city the rest all lived in villages .. so when they had kids grow up for schooling they came over to our home in chandigarh, as one stage there were about 6-8 kids at various levels of school .. in ONE HOUSE..

    This reminded me of those vacation times when we would all be together what fun it use to be .. getting the namkeen , the sakar etc etc .. OH boy what all Wont I do to get back to those days ..

    9am here in UK , and I am already so nostalgic reading this .. now I am sure I will be on the fone calling everyone and making them nostalgic toooo

    Beautiful start to the day

    and hey I am firsttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt yayyyyyyyy

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