Easter weekend was busy. It was also a lot of fun as all three grandkids came visiting. The granddaughters were a tad disappointed because an Easter-egg hunt in Toronto that they had planned to attend earlier in the day was canceled because of unrelenting rain. As grandparents, it was incumbent on us to step up and make up for this loss. We also had to keep the young minds busy and boundless energy suitably channeled. So, I delved into fading memory from my own childhood days and decided to organize a “treasure” hunt at home.
The clues had to be interestingly challenging, yet simple. Soon to be eight, S was the only one capable of reading out the clues and explaining to her “crew” what needed to be done. J, just turned five would be the “helper” and assist not just her older sibling S but also be responsible for her cousin R, not yet three. R was happy to tag along, constantly trying to balance the small cane basket slung across his left shoulder while clutching J’s fingers with his right hand as if his very life depended on this contact. It was a truly delightful and heartwarming sight to watch the action unfold amidst shrieks of excitement as clues were discovered and the hunt proceeded to unravel.
The hunt started with the first clue stating “There is a place, but no fire.” The girls were quick to decipher this and found the second clue strategically hidden around the fireplace in the living room. The next half an hour or so led the kids upstairs, downstairs and into the basement. S exhorted J to “look over here; you are not helping me” while R piped up, “No, no J! Look there” pointing in the opposite direction. J pouted, “Not fair, S you are making me do everything.” Nevertheless, the three came together as a team to find all the clues that led to the grand prize of twenty dollars for books for each. The girls were thrilled. R was happy to demonstrate that he could count the colored plastic Easter eggs collected in his basket and displaying total apathy for the money, promptly handed over the currency note to his mama!
Each of us builds and retains our own treasure of special stories. Anecdotes and special moments that have withstood the passage of time, enduring all those lives that once lived. Details do not matter, for just like wisps of fragrant smoke from an incense stick it is not the form but the essence that lingers on, ultimately getting interwoven into our very being. Every now and then, we are able to delve into this treasure and pull out a gem that helps enrich our living moments. For some strange reason, grandparents are usually the purveyors of such legacies. Some day little R, J and S (“will be eight, going on eighteen” she concedes!) will hunt out the treasure of an Easter weekend and (re)create their own magic moments for posterity.
Renowned Urdu poet, lyricist and script-writer Javed Akhtar penned a wistful ghazal on a childhood long gone. Jagjit Singh composed the music and sang it with sensitivity, as only he could. It is produced below for your listening pleasure, but does not include the ghazal’s especially poignant last sher (couplet), which is as follows:
|Ek ye ghar jis ghar mein meraa saaz-o-sāmaañ rehtaa hai||This (now) is the abode that holds my wherewithal (luggage/resources)|
|ek vo ghar jis ghar mein merī būuḌhī naanī rehtī thi||Then, there was the home where my old (maternal) grandmother lived|
|Mujh ko yaqeen hai sachh kehtī thiiñ
jo bhī ammī kehtī thiiñ
|I am convinced all that my mother said was absolutely true|
|jab mere bachpan ke din thai
chaañd meñ pariyaañ rehtī thiiñ
|During those days of my childhood, fairies did live on the moon|
|Ek ye din jab apnoñ ne bhī hum se naata toḌ liyaa||Today, even loved ones have broken their ties with me/us|
|ek vo din jab peḌ kī shaaḳheñ bojh hamaraa sehtī thiiñ||Those were the days when branches of trees (that we climbed) tolerated our load|
|Ek ye din jab saarī saḌkeñ rūThī rūThī lagtī haiñ||Today, all roads appear desolate and uninviting|
|ek vo din jab aao kheleñ saarī galiyāñ kehtī thiiñ||Those were the days when every lane (temptingly) called out ‘come, let’s play’|
|Ek ye din jab jaagī rateiñ deevaaroñ ko taktī haiñ||Today, nights that are roused stare at walls|
|ek vo din jab shaamoñ kī bhī palkeñ bojhal rehtī thiiñ||Those were the days when the eyelids of (the child with the onset of) evenings drooped with sleep|
|Ek ye din jab laakhoñ ġham aur kaal paḌaa hai aañsū kaa||Today, with a million sorrows the tears have dried up|
|ek vo din jab ek zaraa sī baat pe nadiyaañ behtī thiiñ||Those were the days when, at the slightest pretext rivers of tears flowed|