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What on earth do I classify as ‘most beautiful’ in my life? A person? A possession? A relationship? The sky, the earth, the mountain, the rivers? The answer came as I sat gossiping with my sister last evening. The most beautiful ‘thing’ in my life is memory; rather memories. Beautiful, happy, bitter, tender, tragic, romantic memories. Memories of experiences that shape one’s character, one’s attitude, one’s approach to life. Memories from which one draws strength, resolve, contentment, happiness. What would I be without these memories? Where would I be without these memories? Indeed if there is a choice to live devoid of memories, I would choose to end the existence. Without my memories, I am just a discarded shell.
Memories of Amma waiting near the school gate to pick up The Sister and self. Seeing her near the gate was always a comfort – everything was okay with the world. Sometimes, we would stop by at Malleswaram market and Amma would buy flavoured Nandini milk in those small bottles; it was The Sister’s favourite. I loved elneeru.
Memories of that tattered, dog-eared single-ruled notebook where the monthly budget was laid out – I am sure every family had this! Rs. 60 would be marked against ‘Auto’ – on most days (before I got my cycle), we took an auto to school in the morning. The Sister and I always thought if we could save the sixty rupees... then imagine the new clothes and books we could buy EVERY MONTH. And all those five rupee and ten rupee notes rolled carefully, secretly and kept in the rice dabba or daal dabba – Amma’s own emergency ATM. Apparently this was standard operating procedure adopted by all sensible Mums.
Memories of that childhood facial disfigurement that so shamed me.
Memories of a battered doll that was MOST ADORED by The Sister. It was not some special doll – certainly not the one which could blink eyes and do other clever things. It was an ordinary one with the usual blond hair and rosy cheeks. The Sister designed clothes for the doll and it was The Most Important Thing in her life. Years went by and the doll showed wear and tear – mostly tear! Half its hair had fallen off and one of the eyes was almost erased. Yet, The Sister spoke to the doll, chided the doll, dressed the doll, and tucked it in every night.
Memories of Amma despairing that we did not have many toys...and so she set about stitching the most cuddly, chubby teddy bear. The cotton-filled teddy was born out of an old pillow. He was maroon in colour with black paws and black plastic buttons for eyes...and The Sister and I loved him so very much.
Memories of Appa taking all of us out for a movie in Blue Moon or Blue Diamond on M.G.Road. Memories of hushed discussions with a friend about how the girls looked ‘different’ on M.G. Road – they looked so beautiful and all seemed to wear 'faarin' clothes and what a riot of perfumes!
Memories of Appa bringing in our first television set – and The Sister’s and my hysterically happy reaction – it was a colour T.V.
Memories of Appa buying beautiful clothes and a titan wristwatch when I joined college – even though things were so, so tight.
Memories of that first job – so scary, so excited, so over the top drama queen.
Memories of that unrequited crush.
Memories of that moment of realization, moment of unsurpassed surprise - that I’ve caught someone’s fancy.
Memory of seeing Amma away.
What an eternal spring Memory is! In all the moments of solitude, Memory is my lover, my seducer, my guardian angel. Memory is my beacon in life, my compass, my anchor, my instant connection with Amma.
And I wish all of you a life full of enriching memories.
© Sumana Khan - 2012