A journalist who has lived all over India and is now based in BangaloreWhen I was in high school, the good old days were in kindergarten when life was just play. I still remember a birthday party in the Danapur railway club in Bihar (my dad was a gazetted officer in the Indian Railways) when marbles seem to miraculously fall from the roof above–or so it seemed to my childish imagination–and I collected as many as I could with my grubby fingers which had just been holding a piece of chocolate cake which I quickly transferred to my mouth so that both hands were free to pick up all the marbles.When I was in college, the good old days were the six months’ break between the Indian School Certificate exams (then held in December) and the next academic stage. Mornings were spent playing table tennis and afternoons reading the latest James Bond on a sunlit garden in the railway divisional headquarters of Adra in West Bengal’s Purulia district which was famous for its clay Bankura horses. Evenings were dedicated to badminton (doubles) in the company of a friend called John who liked to affectionately call out the score, and I still remember him saying “7-all, partner”.
When I was unemployed, the good old days were the long summer college-vacations when one could enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like visiting Kolkata restaurants with friends and tucking into potato cutlets, washed down with mango milk shakes, while a Mary Hopkins record sang, “Those were the days my friend/We thought they’d never end/We’d sing and dance forever and a day/We’d live the life we choose/We’d fight and never lose/For we were young and sure to have our way.”When I was immersed in the Delhi life of a 24-by-7 journalist (media persons do have weekly offs but what are known as exclusives, where the scribe puts out a `significant’ news-story which no one else has, tend to get done when one is not caught up in a schedule), the good old days were the months of unemployment in Mumbai where my father had been transferred. I would buy the lowest-priced ticket for a Ranji Trophy match at the stadium and relax in the Mumbai December sun with the latest bestseller which I read in between overs or when the cricket got a bit dull like when the game was meandering to a draw.When I got married and moved to Bangalore, the good old days were when I was a footloose and fancy-free Delhi journalist and there was no one around to tell me what to do and I could live for the moment without worrying about EMIs for vehicles/homes or rushing from one family function to the other.When my wife was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow), the good old days were when she was well and we travelled together on annual leave to distant places like Gwalior to take in the floodlit statue of a 22-year-old called Lakshmibai who died fighting the British during the 1857 War of Independence and whose memorial (photographed by my wife) stands there for all time to come, seated on horseback, sword in hand and child strapped to her back.When my wife succumbed to the myeloma, the good old days were when she and I waited together in the oncology department of a Bangalore hospital, sipping coffee from a vending machine or eating biscuits purchased from a ground-floor store, and when both of us lived for the moment without asking the doctors how much time there was left.Today’s good days are in remembering the good old days and writing about the pre-pandemic past while my wife’s framed photograph smiles down at me from the wall of a Bangalore apartment appropriately called Deja View (a pun derived from the French expression deja vu, which means a feeling of having already experienced the present situation). And as the flowers from the garlanded photograph fall, I am reminded of a Japanese poem which goes, “Though on the sign it is written/`Don’t pluck these blossoms’–/it is useless against the wind,/which cannot read.”
Views expressed above are the author’s own.