Friday, October 15, 2004

I wnat a new life

I want a new life. A totally different life, in another country, with another face, another name. I want to run away and start afresh. No, I'm not miserable, I'm not on the cliff; this is just one of those recurring thoughts/dreams I've had for a long, long time. It seems quite incredulous but when I was younger, much younger I was actually fascinated by the life of the poor (yes Naipaul was here). I lived in what can be described as a sprawling tea estate, about 4 acres, on a hillock, which housed a swimming pool, a tennis court, a TT table and of course a vegetable garden that would out DDA flats (and my house now) to shame. My older sister was at boarding and while my parents had their afternoon siesta -- a habit I still can't inculcate -- afternoons were spent cooking mock curry and tea (bhaji-tarkari) and feeding it to the dhobiwala who dutifully sipped the air from the teacup and licked his lips while declaring that it was absolutely yum. And this was my routine, each and every day. Sometimes, I would force my mum to lend me one of her old saris and I would doll up in a sari and pretend to be memsahib.
There's not much you can do as a five-year-old to occupy your freewheeling mind when you're in the heart of Assam, your only friends the pet mynah, rabbits, guinea pigs, cows and of course your dogs. I even had a turtle, but the servants told me it ran away. I was too naive to know that turtle meat was a delicacy.
So anyway, coming back to my days there; if the dhobiwala decided to not show up, the sweeper would have the great honour of taking me to the local pond where I would fancy myself a great fish-baiter; the other game we often played was finding the fruit. I would hide guavas in a haystack and Babul, the sweeper, would spend long minutes finding them. And then, again I'd hide them...
At other times, I would invent a picnic. My maid and I would walk down to the mali-bari (vegetable garden) and I would ask if I could pull the ripe carrots from the earth. Then we'd go down to the swimming pool (it was filled with dirty rain water with lots of frogs) and eat the spoils of the earth: that was my picnic.
I don't know when exactly it happened, but one day I noticed that the chowkidar, whose hut was just below our bungalow, had a daughter who always looked happy. She had siblings, and I never saw her cry. Whenever I would peep down I could see her building sand castles in her front yard and she looked the happiest person in the world. What I would give to change places with her back then. My two biggest bugbears (drinking milk and studying) were obviously tortures she wasn't subjected to. And I wished and wished that God would make me poor so I wouldn't have to drink milk. This was simply because my mom had figured out all my devious ways of disposing off the white evil. I had poured it into the gamlas (flower pots) not realising that unlike water, milk does not immediately dissolve and hence, leaves a white film on the mud making itself all the more visible. I had even tried to pour it into my dog's plate, but hear this: some dogs do not like milk. Mine certainly didn't. Even flushing the milk down the pot worked only sometimes. So, I thought, the only way I'd never have to drink milk was if my family couldn't afford it.
How I'd love to have that life again.
Looking back, it really seems like another life, another country, another name and another face.

5 Comments:

Blogger writer-in-egg-style said...

A wrestler once wanted a new life; and he discovered the only way he could have it was by becoming a fiction writer.

'Divine discontent', as they say, is where creativity begins.

15 October, 2004  
Blogger writer-in-egg-style said...

... the 'creativity' part also means that becoming a fiction writer is really not the ONLY way. Creativity is too vast to be defined in any way. And to define is to confine.

15 October, 2004  
Blogger Jabberwock said...

Yes, well, it appears you’re not the only one to have had a colonial Raj all your own in the distant, dissipated years of your littleness. I never thought of myself as being Little Lord Fauntleroy-ish as a child, but this talk of tea-gardens, sprawling estates, little memsahibs and obsequious dhobis brings back memories of a couple of summers spent at the family farm in Ropar (The Pun-jab). Vaguely recall bestowing railway station names on sundry key spots in the fruit orchard and then commanding the labourers’ children to push my tricycle (with me on it) from one “station” to the next.
Go ahead, laugh, chortle, choke.

18 October, 2004  
Anonymous subgarden said...

Heard Audioslave's "Be yourself is all that you can do..." from the Out Of Exile album?

A long silence can be deafening sometimes.

Is something the matter?

10 June, 2005  
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05 November, 2005  

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