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Monday, May 11, 2020

Of Human Bonds


In these hard times of social distancing and isolation to prevent falling prey to the pandemic one remembers the times of having unabashed fun with a lot of company. During our childhood most of the times we went unannounced to meet our relatives as there were no landline telephones in most of the homes and the concept of calling never really existed. Only on some important occasions like the wedding and some rituals, one would get an invitation well in advance for which the preparations would be made to undertake the journey.

Whilst, I was still in school we would invariably go for our summer vacations to spend the time with paternal or maternal relatives for fairly long durations in Mathura. We would be welcomed with open arms and treats after treats would follow. There were no expectations and we would shuttle between meals to uncle's and aunt's who lived in a big house. At least, five-set of families stayed in the house but the living spaces were unlike in today's modern dwellings. We would lie down on huge beds with our cousins and share endless stories after lunch till we dozed off in the afternoons. One huge fan in the room was the only comfort and sometimes a bamboo khus screen stuck on the windows to provide the cool air when the blistering hot breeze would make the outside an inferno.

After the snooze,  in the afternoon it was time to share huge watermelons, melons and mangoes without counting the calories. No one kept the count as the pile of mangoes disappeared. A game of cards, snakes and ladders and ludo would keep us busy till there was a respite from the heat. Later in the evening, we would go for strolls in the bazaar and eat chaat without fail. The chaat seller would only appear around 5 PM and finish of all the savouries by 8 PM. Many times we would visit the famous Dwarkadeesh temple and wait for the prasad of pedas that were divine. At night everyone would gather in the big kitchen where our grandmother and aunts prepared a simple meal. We would share the meal and no one complained. The aroma of that still lingers in mind. The food was cooked on a chulaha or 'angithi'( small earthen cooking fireplace) and everyone had to finish the meal before 9 PM as there was no way one could get a warm meal later.

Come night, and we would gather our bedrolls and spread them out on the huge terrace and sleep under the starlit skies. There was hardly any sound at night except an occasional passing train on the Yamuna bridge at a little distance. Our grandfather, who was the first one to wake up would prepare tea for the entire household and bring the steaming cups of tea all by himself on the terrace and lovingly wake up everyone with tea. He would later perform 'pooja' and we would greedily look forward to the prasad of jalebi and kachori to be distributed.

Those were very uncomplicated lives and even with meagre incomes the joys were shared and the entire house would reverberate with peels of laughter, We could not differentiate between our cousins and own blood. Much later, I was fortunate to make annual trips to Mathura where only some cousins now lived but we were greeted with same love and affection. They would go out of the way to look after our comfort and my daughter felt as much at home with them. She would sit and chat with my parents' cousins with as much ease as with their children. It was a blessed life.

When I see the world around now, even with so many possessions one seldom likes to share anything. There is so much focus on privacy that one talks with great caution least someone are annoyed. The recent pandemic has made most of us realize that even with a very little one can still manage to live, but without human interactions, lives are far from complete. The world is all set to change and the experts are having a field day in predicting the future. Without a doubt, we would still need human love to keep the world going as even in these tough times it is one human rising to elevate another's misery.

PS Image kind courtesy Google and Dennis the Menace

3 comments:

  1. Uncomplicated and fun times!

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  2. Beautiful post... Yes the world seems to have got entangled in complications of maintaining privacy now... So much so that we are forgetting to share a greeting let anything else.... Although the hope is that this pandemic helps in people coming closer but the reality might be to just slip back to the old normal as soon as the gates open!! Anyways,we can only hope for the best though :)

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