Thursday, July 12, 2012

Frozen in Time

Am embarrassing moment!

Bidding farewell to a few friends and colleagues from work, I was caught up in a private conversation with one of my favourite people - someone I had loved to work with and grown to love as a person outside of work as well. An elderly lady, probably in her mid-to-late 60s, we had taken to each other like family. We would trade pictures of our countries, family, events regaling each other with stories of childhood. In my case - mine, in her case - her childrens’. She would always fondly tell me that she would love to be a grandmother to my children someday. For that reason, the word ‘grandmother’ got imprinted in my mind and hence led to one of the most embarrassing moments for me ever (probably the second most, the most embarrassing one - I wont even tell you about!) when at the end of conversation, hugging her, I said “You make the best, most perfect grand-mom!” to which she responded “ Grand-mom? I thought I am like your Mom, but grand-mom works too!”

Caught like a deer in the headlights, I didn't know how to respond and we somehow laughed it off when I told her about her wish to be my children’s grand-mom. But days later, I sat thinking about the episode and what had prompted me to blabber out something like this.

Nothing clicked until I landed in Chennai for a cousin’s wedding. Staring at the framed picture of my paternal grandmother who had passed away a few years ago, it struck me. It was a picture of her, taken when she was in her 60s. To me, my grandmother was only as old as in the picture. She was frozen in time. And she would continue to be so. In many ways, this colleague of mine reminded me of my grandmother. Sure, age for one. But apart from that, the way she spoke, the way she cared for me, her mannerisms, everything resembled my grandmother’s way of life.

And suddenly, the image of my now-retired then-super busy mother in her 40s flashes before my eyes. The way she was, when I was in college, bringing friends over for dosas and idlis, to watch the Indo-Pak cricket match on TV and she would be hustling and bustling around. I am glad and proud to say, nothing much has changed. She still feels young for her years, brisk and enthusiastic. Now retired, she’s having the time of her life. Relaxing, reading, watching TV, meeting up with friends, shopping, touring the country, catching up with family and so on. My ‘little’ sister is all grown up now, mature, independent, professional. Everyone around me has put on a few years and so have I. The apartment building where I stay used to be packed with children running around in the evenings, watchful mothers mingling with each other nearby, exchanging gossip, keeping an eye on the kids. Now the same venue seems somewhat deserted - elderly folks sit and trade stories. No kids run about. Possibly an effect of TV, video games or the internet even.

With every growing year, I feel like I am gaining so much more in terms of life’s lessons, identifying the harmless mistakes that are OK to accidentally repeat and steering clear of those that I cannot afford to repeat. Feeling the pangs of family more, wanting to spend every waking moment I could around them. Trying to understand why someone behaves the way they do. Learning to be happy for someone in their good times and the knowledge to empathize when the need be. Becoming increasingly confused about where I want to stay for the next few months, years, forever. Weighing my career options. Becoming more aware that decisions and choices now are so much more complicated than they used to be years ago when I was in school. When the only thing we were worried about then, was whether to pay Rs. 2 for a bunch of berries or tamarind (imli) instead from the local hawker peddling his wares down the street, choosing the flavor of the 50-paisa pepsi from the store on the way home. I am sure even these and the stress of examinations would have scared us enough back then!

So even as I frame my next email to my dear colleague sending her an update of how I am doing - looking back at those days, how I wish, we could pick a time frame of our lives and then, for better or for worse, just stay frozen in time! I don’t know if that would be a good thing or a bad thing tho’!


I would love to hear your views!

13 comments:

  1. Hi

    Nice write up. These things that are frozen in time are the ones that tread along with us as 'memories' the rest of the occurances get lost deep in our sunconscious minds...Boy! U reminded me of 50p Pepsi cola :)

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    1. I just read somewhere about how we live in a time warp. It applied mostly to NRIs returning to India for a visit or for good and wanting to see their country the way they left it. It is so true isn't it? Sometimes we just want to live with the good memories. But you're right. The good ones do stay with us, and that, I am glad for!

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  2. Freeze any time frame, Deepa and you will be sitting around and wondering whether you should have made a different choice:):) Life is all about movement and most moments are enjoyed only in retrospect:)

    Great write-up. Enjoyed reading it.

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    1. LOL! So true. I know that deep in my heart too, but sometimes there's so much fun in fantasizing that you could just go back to those days. And yes, you're absolutely right when you say - most moments are enjoyed in retrospect! :) Where do we even realize the importance of these happenings when they really do happen!

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  3. Every decade of our life comes with its own set of problems and we think the previous decade was better. Freezing time is a good option but I am sure we will get bored after sometime. :)

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    1. Well, the grass is always greener on the other side isn't it? I do love my life as it is right now, but it's so fun sometimes to recollect and live those days again, don't you think?

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  4. I am all with you Deepa regarding this urge to freeze certain time frames,if only we could.....i would never have left my idyllic childhood,my parents who are no more,my sisters ,friends-oh everything of those days.Here are a few lines of a poem from those days-

    Oft in the stilly night,
    Ere slumber's chain has bound me,
    Sad memory brings the light,
    Of other days around me.

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    1. But life goes on doesn't it? :) We do always reminisce of the good times after they're gone. Where do we realize the importance of those when they happen! :) Nice wordings!

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  5. That was an interesting write up. Given a chance, we would all want to be frozen in the happiest of our times, although longevity may pose another set of challenges. Do read the Robot series by Asimov, especially, (i)The caves of Steel (ii) The Naked Sun

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    1. Growing up I was never as Asimov fan, didn't relate to sci-fi much, but I must admit my reading variety has opened up a bit! :) Let me go find a copy!

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  6. Sounds good, but I wouldn't want to be deprived of the happiness that I might await in the future. I think adversity makes us stronger and richer in experience. And,though I cherish the days of my childhood, college days and carefree working days before marriage, how would I have experienced courtship, love, marriage and kids if I were stuck in those happy times?

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    1. :) This was just a fantasy. I wouldn't want to be stuck in those happy times myself, but sometimes we do end up reminiscing them and say 'Wow, what days those were, if only I could live my college life again!'. Well we only get one chance :) And yes, I wouldn't miss what I have now for the world!

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  7. It would be the best thing to do Deepa.. picking up a time frame and have it frozen in time to be with us.. :) nostalgic post :)

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