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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I think I am an absent minded person.  Forgetful.  I usually do not remember where I have kept the keys, the cheque book, my headphones, telephone diary...  .  In fact every thing which I have stored very carefully , remembering to remember where, are the things which I can never find. 

 I would remember to write down things and forget where I had kept that list.  My father has thoughtfully kept a writing pad near the phone...   He had been horrified to see me scribbling on the  newspapers and then hunting for that newspaper in our "raddi  kapaat" trying hard to remember the headline of that day, piecing together sequences so that I could lay my hands on the correct one.

The scribbling pad is a boon.  I diligently write down the name and the telephone numbers.... yeah,, this is an improvement.  I have been known to write numbers on newspapers, on the back of magazines ... and then trying hard to figure out whom the number belonged to.

The writing pad has made things easy.  Did I say,  'easy' ?  I write down grocery lists before hitting the mall, or the Sahakari Bhandar...and I forget to take it along.   I write down telephone numbers only to  find that the diligent ones at home would have torn and junked that page, leaving a fresh one  for the day's scribbling and that too,  just a  couple of minutes ahead of when I needed it most.  I would have forgotten to update the telephone diary, you see.

I am forgetful.  But I think my long term memory is better than my short term one.   There are some incidents that are so so clearly etched  in my mind, I can picture them in every detail.   Probably, I lived that moment to the fullest and that could be the reason I remember them so vividly. 

When my school mates bonded through Facebook in 2011, after nearly 28 years, I could remember but a few of them.  Yet I realized there were some memories that were crystal clear...My first memory from the school days  was one of the class  picnic .. when we were in Junior KG.

I remember wearing my red checked uniform, waiting for the school bus outside my building in the morning... my father waiting with me to put me on the bus.  The picnic was to be at Juhu Garden.

I remember the concrete aeroplane  - the highlight of the park,  the train -   which was just a  couple of concrete cylinders with largish portholes- we four year olds could negotiate them comfortably. I remember the taste of the sweetish tangy red coloured sherbet that was served to us by Benny and Mehroo , our school helpers, that day.

Several years later, when we were in primary school, my  maternal uncle shifted residence from Naigaon to Juhu.  I used to spend a couple of days at his place during my vacations.  I had my cousins who were all older to me.  The youngest of my six cousins was older to me by 6 years and the eldest .. by 20  years.    They were a fun bunch and vacationing with them meant I could be away from the strict rules and regulations which were enforced at home.

They humored me , took care of me and it was a crazy time at their place when my maternal aunt's children joined us as well.  We would be 9 of us cousins in that 4 bedroom apartment.  At night , the mattresses would be laid on the floor in one of the rooms, with  us  sprawled out.   We laughed ourselves to sleep  playing antakshari , mixing up and making up new lyrics.  The trees outside would cast shadows on the walls through the open windows of their ground floor apartment scaring me.  There used to be a small roundish  flowerpot on the window sill... the shadow which was cast would appear like a face at the window. and I would be scared.  "khidkit chor dislaa tar kaay karshil?, they would tease me.  "ghaabraycha nahii... gaana mhanayacha..-  "disla ga bai disla" .  from the marathi movie Pinzara. and we would burst out in giggles

Hide and seek was best enjoyed in their home, as we hid in any of the 4 rooms, in closets or under the beds.  The cousins would even pull  a table cloth over themselves and crouch underneath pretending to be a small stool.

Evenings would  see us playing lagori along with the other kids in the building.  On some evenings my cousins would take  me to  the Juhu Garden. I loved that  aeroplane out there.  Jumbo Jet, I would call it then... I even remember  referring to the garden as the aeroplane garden.  There would always be at least  7 to 8 children ahead of me in the queue to board the plane.  I would rush in, and make a dash for  a window seat, from where I could wave out to my cousin standing below.  Some days I would pretend to be the pilot.   Later when I had grown up and the  aeroplane was out of bounds, it would still fascinate,  as   we walked  past  the Juhu Garden with the cousins ,  to the  SV Road , for the bus which would take us to my home.   By then we were hearing stories of vagrants making the aircraft , their home for the night. ..

Several years have passed by now, my  Uncle has passed away, so has my aunt.  The cousins are married and so am I.  One year, there was a Kid's exhibition held on an open ground next to the Juhu Garden.  Children's books, story books, craft books. puzzles, toys, drawing and craft activities .   I was there with my four year old

After we had done the rounds of that one, while  we were waiting for the car to arrive, I happened to stroll on the pavement and  found myself outside the gates of the Juhu Garden.  There was a uniformed security guard,  at the gate.  There was also an engraved board on the compound wall.   Raheja garden it announced.    And I also understood that there was charge for entry to the garden.

I was offended.  An entry fee??  Yeah, I realized it was for a better maintenance of the park. The entry fee keeps away offenders who otherwise loitered around and were a nuisance to the children and others who loved the space. Yet, there was the distinct feeling that things had changed .    Anyway , by then the car had come in  and we returned home.

Some years later  I read in the newspapers about the mishap in the garden, with the wings of the aeroplane collapsing and killing a young boy.  The plane too was demolished soon after.   Pained as   I was,  when I heard of the freak accident and the loss of a life, the demolition had hurt too.

I wish I had willed myself to pass through the gates of Raheja Garden that day... I wish I had taken the son along ..... guiding him through the train... taking him into that aeroplane  - the Jumbo Jet - and sat on those red concrete seats.   He would have laughed at his mother , having had flown on a real aircraft .  But  years later, he would have thought of his mother, fondly, for having included  him into a part of her childhood.  Perhaps  when he had children of his own??

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