Every time I remember my school days, memories flood my mind, brim full; memories of different days and a different life altogether. Memories of the people from that glorious life and incidents that make me yearn to go back, freeze in time and stay a child forever. My childhood was a place of freedom, a place of comfortable dreams and free all-you-can-eat ice-cream and chocolates with the joy of a lifetime compressed in those tiny years.
My earliest memory is of waking up in the wee hours of the morning, the pre-dawn incandescent tube light of the room opening my sleepy eyes, the bustling activity of getting ready for school and eating a small breakfast with my sister before rushing downstairs and waiting for the school bus, Mother yelling in the background to be careful not to jump in the puddles. There in school, in the company of my little friends we would listen to tapes and make clay bracelets, play in the mud, run around chasing each other, playing hide-and-seek and then hiding in the tree-house that was the centre of our universe, giggling uncontrollably all the while.
Holidays were an integral part of my life, and I looked forward to it minute by minute. I had to compulsorily participate in all the summer activities of swimming, basketball and so on. I would read ‘Secret Seven’ and ‘Tom Sawyer’ and other such classics and get lost in the fantasy world of the fascinating characters. My sister and I would fuss for hours over Barbie’s hair, carelessly using all the shampoo in pampering the 19 of the plastic dolls with the pride of a rich landlord. Those days of utter innocence and childlike questions regarding the most absurd things were just divine.
I recollect how, one day when me and my sister sat at the balcony, sharing a binocular to see a faraway ship on the sea, a pigeon flew over to the parapet and built a nest in front of our eyes, unsuspectingly catching our awe and interest. Regularly we would come to spy on the bird’s haven, and we were ecstatic when the pigeon laid eggs outside the window. But one day, we discovered the nest was no longer there, and we became so sad about it that we did'nt get over it for days.
A memory echoes in my mind, thinking about the past. It is of a time when I was only eight, a playful school-girl, her biggest worry being about petty little tea parties and cooler Tiffin boxes. Mother was my pride and my super hero. I showed her off to all my friends; her amazing food, her beauty and her grace. I was cross-eyed about Mother, and often I would watch her getting dressed, lipstick shimmering, earrings dancing and her bright beautiful eyes brightening my spirits. Father, Mother and my sister Kyra, we would all go for weekly dinners, drive-in movies, the works. We were a happy family, and we did what all happy families do.
But then dramatically, tragedy struck, and the happiness was to end. In the year of 1998, when I was barely a grown-up, Mother was diagnosed with cancer. There were tests, and there were hospital visits and then there were more tests, and more hospital visits, until one day Mother’s health worsened and she was admitted in the hospital.
After that, Father put us in a boarding school, far away from the world of pungent hospital air and tears. I was completely heartbroken and felt utterly helpless all the time. I hated the boarding and despised everything about it. Mother was transported cross country for treatment and I was beginning to believe that I wouldn’t see her again. Crying into the pillow late in the night and praying in the chapel of our convent school, Kyra and I were inconsolably miserable about Mother. The only thing positive about that experience was Father visiting us monthly, giving us treats and making us feel happy again, and giving news about Mother.
Then after two years of gruelling anticipation and long days of deep remorse and anxiety, our prayers were answered. I got to see my mother, though she wasn’t looking perfectly healthy, she was healing, the cancer gone, but leaving its scars in everyone’s life. It was a magical moment. Seeing her in that hospital bed, lying there and looking so fragile and so frail, tears streamed down my face and my heart rejoiced as I went to my mother, embracing that small person, that person for whom I owed my existence to
Often in life there are times when you feel so overwhelmed with happiness, it’s almost unreal, like magic. But when I saw my mother there, after believing I wouldn’t see her anywhere except in my dreams or in heaven, I did feel the magic, and I’m sure it was.