You do odd things to get even. I don’t know about you. But, that is me. Especially when turbulence hits the soul. This time it’s not been very different.
Most parts of the last few weeks have been whisked away by the desire to latch on to every memory. Perhaps a quest to seek new meaning, draw lines in the mind to what seemed to be faint dots faded by time and the vagaries that ‘gainful employment’ has brought over years.
So, I went looking for places that my feet aimlessly shuffled around while locks of hair bounded the forehead of my wonder years! Hopeful of catching the smell, feel and sights of a time that seemed distant yet close. A time that often looks like its within arm’s reach of clear recollection and then slips away almost like a mirage that chooses to go into hiding upon seeing me.
My journeys took me to the small village where we spent many summers challenging the Sun to beat us down with his rays, while we soaked much of the open air, green fields, braying donkeys, cows, goats and of course the languorous rhythms of easy village life.
It then took me to the club that I hung out with classmates. The courts where I played tennis in. The roads that I took my walks on. The small shops that sold silly candies. The bungalows that held allure. The College that was privy to adolescent dreams, hopes and expansive aspiration.
It wasn’t a well orchestrated journey of sorts. Three quarters lead by happenstance and the meager rest by careful plotting. Most of the times carelessly retracing steps, upon a whim, on a road that brought alive last remnants of a clinging memory. Of a glance exchanged. A smile passed around. A word uttered. Sentences not spoken and conversations that spanned the world.
In sheer gluttony of consuming far more than what the present had to offer and in the ever expanding search to relive a memory, occasionally I reached out To DO the things that I did when it was “in those days”.
No memory of growing up in those times in the intense climes of Madurai, can be complete without memories of what continues to be called ‘Paal ice’ ( Milk Ice).
Proffered usually by a man with a hoarse rhythmic voice that arrested your attention no matter what you were doing. It caused you to run to your dad, mom, grandma, uncles or whoever that would be around and usually willing to spend a grand sum of one full rupee on you.
I saw the “Ice man” again. A couple of weeks ago.
Imagine the delight of seeing a memory come alive and stroll ahead of you. The narrow lanes of a Sun beaten village served as a poignant backdrop as a man sold ‘Paal Ice’! Before I could say yes, my brother bought it, for a grand sum of Rs.5/-. In a short time, the collective memories stretched to ask “Do you have Semiya Ice?”
Another grand sum of Rs.5/- left the wallet, even as the ice creams disappeared from the flimsy sticks that’s held them. Not a word spoken about hygiene or if it was made from ‘mineral water’ or some such urbane stuff. For it wasn’t quenching taste buds. It was satiating a part of me that was parched beyond parched. As the ice cream went down the throat, a million memories were resurrected, rejoicing a thirsty mind and a thrifty soul.
The “ice man” moved on. After being bemused by us, for a bit. Tapping the box to announce his arrival in the neighbourhood and supplementing it with his arresting coarse voice.
I clicked a few more snaps vigorously. In the future, if I needed a pass to the past, this was it.