We live in phases, i believe, and we firmly like to clinge on to the best phase of our lives and like to live it over and over again knowing well that may be that phase of life will never come back again. Most of our worries, our anxieties and our present sorrows, as they say rest in either the sorrows of yesterdays or the worries of tomorrow. We, all most all of us, spoil our today either feeling sad for what happened yesterday or worrying for what will happen tomorrow. Is’nt it. In my case, though i try my level best to be in the present, sometimes, being an imperfect mortal i too get lost in the yesterdays.
My best phase of life were those four five carefree years of my boyhood from 1982-83 to 1986-87. If someone asks me in the deepest of my lumber the best period of my life i would unequivocally relate this period. This was the phase of my life which preceded the much cruel and dreaded phase of my life from 1987 till perhaps today. The lean phase which affected my whole persona, my being.. The phase prior to 1982-83 was the phase in which i was too young to really attribute any shade to it.
This year 1982-83, we shifted to Naval Civil Housing Colony (NCHC), Bhandup. It was a big housing colony meant from civilians employed in Indian Navy. It took me just few days to gobble a circle of friends of my age and many elder friends around me. I became part of the team, they readily accepted me in their flock and we, gelled, we flocked together like we were always destined to be like that. Most of us were in same school and some of us in same classes as well. Nilesh was my best friend, he remains in touch with me even today.
That was the pre-liberalized era, when lives were very simple. We did not have any computers to hang our heads, we did not have mobile phones or other virtual reality games or electronic gizmos. The television industry was also in its primitive stage. Color TVs were just introduced in 1982, so having one was way beyond comprehension for many people. All we had therefore, was ample of time to play, to mingle and linger around.
My day used to began at 05.45 when i had to wake up to attend the morning school which commenced its sessions from 06.45 am. My friend Nilesh would come to my place and we both would go to our schools. Bunking schools was out of fashion then, the respect or fear for teachers was utmost, unlike today. After the school sessions at 01.00 in the afternoon we would hit our playgrounds at 02.15 pm and would play till 06.00, which was followed by our tuition classes, where we would grudgingly go, as a last option. The day used to end at 10.30 pm.
Weekends and Vacations were the most beautiful periods of our lives then. We would go for so called jogging, which was no jogging int he first place, we used to get our cricket set together and run towards our play ground, perhaps the distance from our home to our playground can be vaguely termed as jogging. While returning we would savour on the jamun (black plum) and return home for breakfast only to return to play. We played all kinds of games, cricket, football, even hockey with hockey sticks crafted out of some wooden sticks, atya patya, lagori, chor police, viti dandu. The current lot with their pokemans may not have even heard of these games. The weekends TV shows on Doordarshan included Spiderman, Giant Robot, Dada Dadi ki kahaniya and many such legendary epics. The epic Ramayana telecasted on Doordarshan prompted us to sharpen our archery skills and soon we all had our bows and arrows with us. Sadly some poor hens were killed in those battle our ours.
After 30 long years, today, i visited the colony. Not that i never wished to visit the places. But, there was no reason for visit, as all the friends who were then with me had left the colony as their parents had retired. Secondly, somehow, on many a occasions i avoided visiting the colony, for i was sure that i would become sentimental and sad. But, today, i could not avoid, as one of my colleague was marrying today int he Community Hall of the colony. That community hall then had a color tv and we would go there on sundays to watch movies. The open space in front of the community hall was the place where movies were shown in open air theatre during night times. You may have watched many a movies in the multiplexes in ac halls with surround sound effect. But imagine, carrying a soft towel with you, spreading it on the grass and watching the movie on the giant screen sleeping with cool breeze blowing. The Amitabhs and the Shashi Kapoors of those years would come to life then. Soon however, after watching the movie for about one and a half hour i would go to sleep and my mother or my sister would have a hard time to wake me up to take me back to our home. When i reached the hall, all the memories livened up once again.
Thirty years is a very big period. Almost 11000 days, you may say, the world around has changed drastically in the thirty years. But thankfully, the NCH colony has not changed, not an inch has changed. All the things are in same place, no superficial changes made in the name of development. May be because the entire estate is under the custody of Indian Navy, the old values are preserved. Even the small shops that we used to visit 30 years ago have not changed. They have just changed their nameboards may have changed. But there is nothing to show that there has been neglect, the colony is still as beautiful as it was, the roads are still clean and wide, with huge trees on both the sides, no unauthorized constructions around. I must thank my colleague Sawant, whom i had called a day before and requested to accompany me with him on his bike to troll around the colony. He knew that i was born up in this colony and respected my sentiments. So we went together to the colony on his bike. I roamed in the colony, visited my building. Building No.S, flat no.8. Ruefully enough, the building now has been marked for demolition as it was too old and unsafe to live. Like a child lost, i rounded the building on his bike two three times, tried to capture all the glimpses of my house which i could see from roadside. The small garden which was abundant with mango trees and other fruit bearing trees, which was the place where we lived and played all stood still even today. The trees around are still there, almost like they were really waiting for me. Just all the memories gushed through and i found it difficult to express it to my friend. He noted change in my voice and tried to console me. Though i was not crying my voice had turned heavy and the change was noticeable. Perhaps, exactly for this moment, i avoided visiting the colony for thirty long years. But, for the thirty long years, i must admit that each night a child in me wakes up just before going to bed, we play in that colony, play all stupid games and i retire for the day.
Memories are really bad sometimes.. If you are a sentimental guy like me. Even good memories sometimes come to haunt you. One of my friends Meena with whom i chat on whatsapp, was the first girl to know what i was going through today, she tried to console me, telling that all those were physical things. You have your mother with you and you are settled now in Dombivli. May be inertly even she was aware that the defence was not going to be justified and i would require some time to come back to adjust and console myself that that phase of life was gone, gone good thirty years ago, and there was no point in clinging back to the memories that will never translate into reality.