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Yaadon ki baraat: Walk down memory lane

On rough days, I look through the kaleidoscope of memories. The slides of childhood play along. Bachpan, the richest repository of priceless moments, Yaadon ki baraat, instantly brings some fresh whiffs of bliss. However, amid all these lovely sentiments associated with bygone days, something irks. The sudden discomfort is similar to that of a pea lying at the bottom of twenty mattresses from the famous fable of Princess and the Pea. I question myself, will all the kids of current times have any moments to pick from the memory lane?

When do kids actually form memories? No one actually knows the age at which children begin forming truly long-lasting memories. Some researchers believe the earliest start around age 3 1/2 and everything before that is lost to a kind of childhood amnesia. Others believe children start forming memories before that time, but those memories don’t necessarily last beyond adolescence. The bottom line? Older kids are more likely to remember what is happening right now, while younger kiddos will probably forget most of it.

The question is what will happen to those who are likely to remember and never saw any routine of school life in the last three years? Forget academics, what about the simple pleasures of wearing neat uniforms in the morning, and happily smashing pen ink and chalk dust by “Chutti time”? What about eating lunch at the back-bench before the mandated lunch break? How about those eager looking moments at the merciless wall clock, and waiting for the oppressing class to finish? What about the crumpled ten rupee note in your hand, and TEN different wishes from the school canteen? What about the last page secrets on the dog-eared notebook? Who will ensure the kids of these simple joys again? The pandemic will leave eventually, and yet it will LEAVE behind a lot of blank pages in the lives of kids.

To fill some colour in this blankness of grim times, I recall one such anecdote from my school days. And so it happened….There was much ado in the class when our form teacher made an announcement of a book fair. I was in sixth standard that time. We all got excited. I imagined exploring Aladdin’s castles, long haired fairies, and all the hidden “Talism” in the books.

The much awaited day came and the book stalls were laid in the spacious singing hall of our school. My tender childlike heart raced fast as I walked past new-crispy paged books on the display. The beautifully illustrated book of fairies and magic lamps finally caught my attention. I stopped and pored over it. However, the happiness was short-lived. My heart sank when I read the price of the book. It was around 1500 rupees, and all I had was an allowance of 300 bucks. I had a good look at it and put it safely where it was. With a broken spirit, I finally stopped near the inspirational books shelf. On an impulse, I chose a book of quotations from the leaders, authors and poets of the past. I hurriedly read the first quote, and immediately shut the book— “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”

To this day, I cherish this quote by Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, an American political figure, diplomat and activist, who also served as the First Lady of the United States. I might not have been able to buy the book I wanted, but the book I got turned out to be more precious. It gave me a mantra that I live by, that sees me through the darkest days, and that I dear reader share with you – believe in the beauty of your dreams, they will insulate you against the GLOOM and DOOM of these days. 

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