Something about summer time and ‘when the living was easy’. Memories of cousins, uncles, aunts, dad, ma, brothers, both were alive, sister, an awkward girl. My dad ensured that every summer we holidayed. No exotic destinations but visit to ancestral homes. Alternating between dad’s and mom’s. It was clockwork. It was magic.
Long train rides ending at Raghopur in Bihar and, next year, at Jaipur in Rajasthan. At the end of those steam stained hot journeys would be excitement, welcome, comfort, security. A houseful of people. Bustling kitchen. No telly. No air conditioners. Power supply so suspect even fans and lights were random. No internet. No mobile telephony. No computers. But we had cricket, books, picnics, movies, story telling, imagination, marbles, egos, kites, sticks, bugs, stones, and inclination. BBC news on the transistor radio. Freshly plucked mangoes.
My cousins, uncles and aunts, each of them a character from a story book. And so, my childhood was punctuated by these beautiful annual excursions into an alternative reality that lasted two months. At the start of each new holiday, we picked up where we had said our byes an year back. It was easy. We were children.
Without any formal warning childhood finished. Slowly, these annual holidays morphed into short breaks – to places exotic but away from those cousins, uncles, aunts and stories incomplete of summers gone by.
Looking back, I feel, something broken. I lost contact. I lost an alternative reality. I don’t know how those stories unfolded – whether cousin Sharad finally stood up to his Dad and whether cousin Tannu managed to pursue her Bollywood dreams.
We do meet – once every few years. But we don’t talk about those stories incomplete, those dreams shared. We talk about our children.
And every summer, I trip nostalgic of those holidays.