Sunday, July 8, 2012

Those 'really were' the days..!!

Pac-Man and Chacha Chaudhary.  One is an age-old classical video-game which has enthralled kids since decades and the other is an Indian comic character whose adventures have been gleefully lapped up by millions across our country. Now what can be common between these two diversely opposite figures, that I take their names in one sentence? The thing is, these two represent an integral part of my nostalgia, which helped in building my childhood and making it that much more memorable. Call it chance, coincidence or whatever but somehow over the last few days these two have managed to spring up right in front of me and suddenly made me take a dip into nostalgia lane. Yeah, we all do that every now and then don’t we? But this time it’s been quite intense, as I explored all the varied facets of my childhood, things which made those growing up years that much more fascinating. Where life was..Just so simple and uncomplicated.. Where you reveled in the small little gifts of life. Where I knew before going to sleep, that no matter what problems I have, Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu would save the day. Yeah, it was actually fun being stupid.

Though I can go on and write a thesis on this subject, but for mine and yours sanity, I have tried to list out some of the most important of them in order. Here you go.

Comics:  Comics was something which ensured that I never ever got bored in my childhood days. I in fact had my very own ‘library’, housing some of the best collection of comic books; something which I was immensely proud of. These were mainly Hindi comics and Chacha Chaudhary without doubt won hands down by its sheer numbers. There was something about the life and times of Chachaji and Sabu; that matchless combo of brain and brawn, that made you crave for more and more. Strangely though, more than the story line (which I agree was quite dumb sometimes) I was especially enchanted by the drawings in these books. Their house, those trees and gardens, the clear skies, the loony characters, they looked so simple and soothing that I wanted to jump in and be a part of it; always wishing how I could be there. I would always eagerly await going to the railway station, just to get a chance to grab some of the new collection they had in offering. There were more of course. Billo, Pinki, Nagraj , Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha and what not. All of them my friends. I didn’t need anyone else then. Sadly, I sold all of them off. I grew up. And now I realize how cruel I had been. They were my greatest support system, taking care of me without me even realizing it. I badly crave for them now.

Books: My Mom, wherever she is, would know now that how wrong she was in chiding me for being forever glued to books. I didn’t realize it then, but gobbling up all those Enid Blyton and Hardy Boys novels has helped me be in the current profession I am in.

I doubt if anyone of you have heard of a book called ‘Champak’. I was crazy about them. They had these fascinating stories about animals and birds, and other simple stuff which I simply loved. On Sunday mornings, I would always tag along with my father to the ‘sabzi’ market to get hold of a copy. Holding his hands, I would peep around from that maddening crowd, at the newspaper stand; trying to see if a new edition had arrived. The simple stories having morals in the end was what made it special for me.

There is a particular incident that I want to share. In school, we had our ‘Library periods’ on Saturdays. And I would wait the whole week for that very period. In the 3rd standard, I remember a new book had arrived; ‘The Panchatantra’. Hard bound, yellow heart was immediately set on it.I discussed it with my best friend and waited patiently for Saturday to arrive. We were given the books by being called out on virtue of the first letter of our first names. And as it turned out, the one before me chose that very book. I was aghast and burst out in tears. My best friend consoled me, and the kind teacher took pity on me and asked the boy to give the book to me. I don’t remember who he was, but the feeling of taking that book home and keeping it beside my pillow that night was something I would never forget. I treasured that book like I had got a rare piece of diamond.

Speaking on which I am reminded of this strange habit I had of keeping the current book that I was reading near my pillow as I slept. Almost as if I wanted it to be there with me. I would get up at night and check on them sometimes. It was stupid, it was fun. I miss that feeling.

Cartoons: Ahh..I wish I had ample space here to describe the effect those cartoons had had on me. Not a single day would pass without me missing on these cartoon shows. Sunday mornings would mean Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, Tale Spin, Duck Tales and more. There are many more names which I am missing, but watching these while having my breakfast made my world then. I didn’t care about anything else. Just me and my world of cartoons. There was a time once, when I thought I can never live without them. Things have changed now, but that is more to do with the influx of nonsensical shows in the name of cartoons that have taken forte today. I will ensure that I get the DVDs of all my favourite shows from the past and show it to my children. Cartoons today are hogwash. Where has the simplicity and innocence gone??

Games:  No, in those days I hardly watched cricket, but played it thinking myself to be no less than Sachin himself. Cricket was mainly indoors and ensured lots of broken glasses and pots. However, there were many other games that charmed my existence then. Carom, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders were the obvious ones. Then there were these WWF and Cricket card games that I was obsessed with. Those of you, who are from my era, would know the effect it had on all of us and what saying ‘clash’ at the right time means. It was simply captivating.
There are of course many more but one of them is ‘Business’. Boy was it cool. Summer holidays would be entirely spent in playing it out. Taking claim of ‘Delhi’ , ‘Kolkata’ and other cities and managing your ‘accounts’ is something people who have played it would understand. Then of course there were these video-games. No PS3 or whatever. Just plain and simple Mario, Pac-Man, Contra, Tetris and the list goes on. I never had a set in those days and would envy my neighbour who had it. I would sit for hours at his place watching him and my elder brother play it out on the TV set. When I would get my turn after hours, I would never make it past one level. But I would still be happy. Just seeing those figures in action was something else. It made my day.

Mom: Yep, I know millions have similar thoughts I guess. And I shall not dwell on this subject in details. However it would be injustice to not let the most significant part of my upbringing any mention here. My day started with her and ended with her. Simple. Even while playing cricket if I would get out, she would ensure that I kept playing. Yeah, I would start crying, and she would scold all my cousins. “Shame on you, why did you get him out?? Let him play some more”. She would hand me the bat lovingly, wipe my tears and ensure that I played some more. I knew that no matter what she would be there.

I can’t help but share one incident. I was in the 2nd standard and my summer holidays had just got over. I was very emotional and just couldn’t stop thinking about my mom. This is going to sound filmy but it’s all true. I was in the bus going to school, quietly holding back my tears and sitting beside the window seat. My friends were all chattering about their experiences and asked me about mine. I quietly muttered that I enjoyed a lot but am missing my mom. They laughed and said what a sissy I was. Back in school, I was just waiting for the classes to end so that I could go back to my mom once again. I kept having flashes of her smile, her cuddling me, making Rasna for me, sitting in our small ‘mandir’ and praying together, it was difficult to concentrate. And then in our Hindi period, my teacher picked me out from the whole class to read out a poem. And as fate would have it, the title was ‘Maa’. I still don’t know how I survived it without bursting out in front of everyone.

I went back home and saw her; she greeted me with a kiss on my cheeks. I wasn’t very expressive then, but I just hugged her. I didn’t say anything, but she knew it. It was always like that. I wanted to tell her so many things then. But couldn’t. Wish I had.


I can’t say this is about it as there are several more incidents and things which made my childhood. Like the simple TV shows Nukkad, Small Wonder, Byomkesh Bakshi, Malgudi Days and some more. Then those TV ads of Frooti and ‘Mile Sur mera tumhara’. They all had their effect. I obviously can’t jot them all down. But the fact is, I miss them terribly these days. The reasons for which I can’t really explain. But I miss that part of my life where life was so much simpler. I can’t say that I had the best childhood but whatever moments of fun I had, I treasure them a lot. They are like a framed montage for me, which I look fondly back at. Where life was fun being stupid, where I didn’t care about the clothes I wore. Where I had oiled hair and a ‘nazar ka tikka’ on my forehead but still didn’t care two hoots about it. Where I had a plastic water bottle dangling from my neck and where the only tension I had was missing my cartoon shows. I have money in my wallet now, good clothes to wear and no restrictions on watching anything or going anywhere. But I crave for the simplicity and innocence of my past, wishing that I could bring it all back. Or at least had a TV where I could view all those memories once again, with each channel having a different memory.

I believe our lives are divided into phases. With each passing phase you learn something and cherish something. But time moves on and so do these phases, and no matter how hard you try to cling on to your previous phase, things change. You desperately want to bring back all the good moments and feelings but it doesn’t happen. And then you have to take that ‘moving on’ thing by your side. I already am missing some of the recent phases of my life that I loved, but then like I said, things change.

Life now, no matter how hard you try, gets complicated. The only way to move ahead is to keep trying to be positive about things, no matter what. Like I always say to myself, “Day by day, Brick by Brick.” I am certain many of you somewhere in your heart would relate to this. It’s not that I am not having fun. I have a good job, nice friends and thankfully a positive attitude. But I dearly yearn for my innocence and simplicity.

And that is perhaps the reason I wrote this today.
And that is why I have a Chacha Chaudhary comic book tucked beside my pillow these days.  I just wish that even today when I went to sleep, I knew that no matter what I am going through, Chachaji and Sabu would save the day..!!

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