It was late afternoon here in Canada when I received a call from a very dear friend “A”, who is currently visiting family in India. “What are you doing up at this hour? Its well past midnight, is it not?” I inquired. “Yes, it is late. I just got back to the flat after dinner with the extended family and thought of calling you” he said, adding “You know, all of us – my brothers and sister – were together for a week at our ancestral house up in the hills. It was just great to reunite and spend time together, after a long time”.
He spoke at length about the reunion, and having seen pictures of their home when it was renovated several years ago, I could visualize some of the things he described. “A” poignantly described how he sat on his mother’s bed and looked around the small, sparse and neat room she had lived in for decades before old age forced her to give up her sanctum in the hills and move in with one of her sons in the metropolis. The times spent with his mother came flooding back, egged on by the sight of objects that had once “belonged” to her but now served as memory joggers, mere mementos of the lives lived through time in that domain. He spoke of the small electric coil heater that his eldest brother had acquired for their mother to ward off the mountain chill; it now stood desolately in a corner of the cold room. I was reminded of my own childhood and the heater in my grandmother’s room; she always cautioned us to stay away from it to avoid getting singed or electrocuted, or both. She also refused to touch the control panel herself, always calling on the servant to come and adjust the power level or reposition the heater because she was either too hot or too cold!
In particular, “A” spoke about the emotionally charged visit to the small school for underprivileged children that his father had started over half a century ago. The school is still operational but barely so, as it now exists in a state of disrepair. My friend told me that he felt guilty for not having thought about this institution over all these years and lamented the time wasted in not thinking about those in need – the children who needed that school for education – while he and other family members focused on pursuing their own careers and interests. Better late than never, I said and complimented him for meeting with the Principal and taking steps to establish a fund for extending financial support to the school. I was reminded of my mentor late Professor Singh’s observation that we live our life on autopilot, but when blessed with Divine Grace we become aware of our true nature and purpose in life. He would recite the Japji prayer in the Guru Granth Sahib, which includes the verse “Eh bhi Daat teri dataar” (This too is Thine Divine plan).
My conversation with “A” ended, but for a long time I continued to think about how memories can sneak up and overwhelm us, if we are not mindful. And right then, this stirring Bashar Nawaz’ ghazal, beautifully sung by Bhupinder for the movie Bazaar came to mind:
|Karoge yaad to har baat yaad aayegi||Should you (choose to) reminisce, you will (be able to) recall every detail|
|Guzarate waqt ki har mauj thehr jaayegi||The tide of past times will be stilled|
|Ye chaand beete zamaanon kaa aaeenaa hoga||This moon will mirror (reflect) the past times/ages (spent together)|
|Bhatakte abr mein chehraa koi banaa hoga||In the meandering cloud a visage may shape/show up|
|Udaas raah koi daastaan sunaaegi||The wistful path/way (we walked on) will echo a story|
|Barastaa bheegta mausam dhuaan dhuaan hogaa||The wet, rainy season/time will slip away like wisps of smoke|
|Pighalti shammon pe dil ka mere gumaan hogaa||Light from the melting candles will create an illusion of my (wasted) heart|
|Hatheleeyon ki hina yaad kuchh dilaayegi||The color of henna on your palms will (serve to) bring back memories|
|Gali ke mor pe soona saa koi darwaazaa,||At the turn of the alley stands a lonesome door|
|Tarasti Aankhon se rastaa kissi ka dekhegaa||Watching the road with longing eyes, for someone (to return)|
|Nigaah dur talak jaake laut aayegi||The sight will go all the away (only to) return (disappointed)|