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
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)