August 28, 2008

There’ll Always be A Place

When I was young, or let’s say when I was a lot more innocent than what I am today, I lived an enchanted life. And I mean it. I had a vivid imagination. I guess every child has, but what I remember tonight is that I could visualize almost everything. I used to mix Goblins from my Blyton books with the Khokkoshes from Thakurmar Jhuli. I used to stand on the terrace of our house, break a twig from the Neem tree and use it as my sword against all kinds of monsters to save the kingdom. I was the undisputed king, the knight in shining armour. When my grand mom gifted me my first illustrated Russian Fairy Tales, I would often encounter Baba-Yaga and the corner of the terrace would become her hut, spinning endlessly on its chicken legs. No one knew that this fantasy land existed. Not my family, nor my best friends in school.

When I was much much younger and went to Durgapur, I would roam around the gardens of everyone in the neighbourhood and pretend that I was lost in the dense dark forest. In my mind sunlight would turn into a misty darkness where I could not see beyond the next tree trunk. I had a dog that used to live nearby and whenever I was out he would come from nowhere and accompany me. Often in the afternoons when the koel was tired of its incessant singing and there was no one who would bother if a little kid had tiptoed away from his bed, I would turn into the mighty He-Man and Bhola would be my Battle Cat. I have missed Bhola, every day since I have left Durgapur. He or She was my first pet, my first friend and I have never let anyone take Bhola’s place.

I still remember my disappointment when no one ever gifted me the He-Man sword and I was too egoistic to ever ask for it, even at that age. Times came when I could afford it myself, but those were times when I would settle for an audio cassette that I had been tracking for ages. I was growing up.

The Sagars and the Chopras of this country rendered a great service to the Indian kids of my age. Suddenly mythology was no longer stories you had heard. You saw them everyday and you enacted them. I was always terrible at Arts and Crafts. Really terrible. And yet I made bows and arrows by myself. It’s another matter that the arrows would never fly to slay the might demons but that did not stop me from being Karna. At that point of time, I remember I used to run out of books to read very often. So I would pick up old textbooks of my dad or mom or sis and read them. Somewhere I had come across the interpretation of Ramayana by a hugely talented and forgotten poet called Michael Madhusudan Dutta. And there I met my first Anti-hero. In place of Lord Rama, my heart was with the human Indrajeet. It’s perhaps then that I first realized the power of the pen. A story which millions considered holy was turned upside down by a poet who impressed upon the child who was reading it, the importance of upholding national pride and honour even when faced with the question of right or wrong. And therefore as much I have read and re-read the Ramayana, and celebrated the triumph of good over evil and appreciated that sacrifices need to be made for the greater good, I have never been able to accept Bibhisana.

When I grew up a little bit, I remember that I sometimes fought the British. Sometimes I was an Indian Revolutionary, sometimes the German Paratrooper of World War II. I was yet to devour World War II history (that would come ages later) but when you are a kid who’s right and who’s wrong doesn’t matter. You decide which side you want to be on and you just belong there. I had a pretty neat collection of guns. Leo used to have a variety of them and almost every other Chandmama issue would have a double page spread of the latest toys and guns from Leo. I loved guns as a child. I still do. There’s seldom a balloon shooter shop which I pass by without aiming for the most difficult target.

Slowly and slowly Blyton’s goblins were replaced by Famous Five, the Epics were read to find deeper meanings and Russian folk tales were replaced by her modern authors. And then one day, I realized I could no longer imagine. I did not know anymore how a fairy looked. I did not have the courage anymore to pick up a twig and fight a troll. I had grown up.

whatever may come, whenever you're lost remember there always be a place for us

castles we build crumbles to dust - don't worry there

always be a place for us

(A post dedicated to a Star Movies Screening of Bridge to Terabithia which suddenly opened floodgates of memories locked up somewhere deep down)

7 comments:

little boxes said...

the Sagars...yes i remember Shri Krishna!
there is something else which visits my childhood memories often-Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle...
i guess there are things which you keep going back to no matter how many Archies or Calvin and Hobbes crowd the world

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ little boxes - See that's how generations change :) for anyone in my age group Sagar would mean only Ramayana :)

And add Chandmama and Indrajal Comics to Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle

Vinay said...

Phantom and Mandrake used to be something truly awesome.. But i thought u were much older :)

thejasvee said...

Banjo! Am soooo J now!!! miss all the plays, ncpa, the causeway restaurants, being stone's throw away frm marine drive and all the gud things abt mbai...spent jus 3 months thr...but lived it up...a life time of memories! now i c u havin the luxury of doin all that every day!!
and congratulations on ur publication...luv ur style of writing :)
feels lovely wen some1 else writes abt ur childhood experiences, ur opinions abt movies/ppl/places :D

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@Vinay - Ahem

@ Miss T - :) You should do something more after the efforts at cooking :)

wnwek said...

My memories of Terabithia are quite terrible actually. We went to Wales and it was raining very heavily and we had no other choice but to watch this movie.

And it was unanimously decided it was a big disappointment. There was hardly a plot in the movie...

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Vivek - That's the best part. there weren't any plot :) You can interpret it as you like.