Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Songs of childhood

A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost!

The afternoon spread out lazily before us, as we settled on the couch, munching some chudva and giggling like little girls at the funny and witty retorts of Koki ji of Shrimanji Shrimatiji. Wondering how we ended up watching this serial, that used to air on DD2 more than a decade ago? I would blame the rain.

 "Hey Tai, you would love this! I stumbled upon this song a while ago! " With a smile on her face and frenzy in her actions, she casted a video on T.V.

"Jhuk Jhuk Jhuk Jhuk agina gaadi, dhoorancha rekha haveth kaadi..palti jhaadi paahuya, mama cha gavaala zaauya..!"

"Oh my God! I had totally forgotten about it. How long ago was it, 20 years?" I was bewildered and very happy, as if I found my long lost sister. I was excited like a puppy because it was our childhood song, the only Marathi one that we knew. We used to sing it a lot, the most favorite line being 'Roz roz poli shikran'. It brought back old memories of us in ugly oiled-ribboned-plaits, drowning in oversized uniforms, devouring shikran poli(squashed banana, milk and sugar eaten with rotis) while racing against time. That was our staple breakfast when we were in school.

 The pitter patter of raindrops outside prodded us to go further.

"You know what I like best of those days? Singing. Remember how we kept our doors open when there was a power cut, and played Antakshari so the whole building knew!?"

As much backward as it may sound, impromptu power cuts were the much needed respite. It brought the day to a grinding halt leaving us no option but to stop whatever we were doing and sit in anticipation(Power cuts usually occurred during late evenings and nights. That's when the 'saving' would occur). The family sat down together, keeping the doors and windows open to let some breeze in. Sometimes, there was a gush of wind and blow off the only candle. Ajji would sit in a corner, fanning herself with a newspaper. Dad would hum a little song and we picked up his cue. He sang his favourite songs, songs of his times, melodious, lyrical and meaningful and before we knew it, they became our favourites too.

There were songs for different occasions. If Independence day or republic day was around the corner,
we tended to sing patriotic songs. 'Meri desh ki dharti..' of Manoj Kumar or 'Ai mere watan ke logon' rendered by Lata Mangeshkar. I remember how we would sing the whole song, lump forming in our throats, tears trickling down our faces sometimes, as we lived the lives of soldiers through a song. And sometimes, if we were feeling thankful or grateful, we would end it with Ram Raksha, the whole family reciting in unison. Dad would sometimes forget the lines and repeat a previous phrase and mom and Grandma would snuff him out by raising their voices, continuing the right way, not letting him distract their focus.

Back in those days, life was full of life. And it showed in how we sang, with all our hearts. With so much dramatic-emotional-facial-synchronization that it would make AR Rahman cringe.

We recalled random episodes, like how Amma had come running from kitchen when she heard "Chaiya Chaiya" being played on Rangoli, how it left my grandfather perplexed at her sudden sprint and when asked, she had sheepishly replied, 'It is Nanu's favorite song and I wanted to see how it looked like'. It was a daring act on her part, because daughter-in-laws were not expected to scamper like a little girl, more so if the father-in-law shared the same roof. Our eyes fluttered mistily as we recalled her mischievous side that hid behind her dutiful-daughter-in-law-demeanor. The face that lights up when we say something nice to her. The memory of the child-like joy in her smile played before us.

The rain mellowed into a drizzle, but we were on a rampage. Memory after dormant memory tumbled from our little minds, as if the jar of flashback was rattled and opened loose. While some brought smiles, a few jerked tears. Like the turbulent relationship between my dad and sister during her growing years. Like how at one point in time, bogged down by expectations and tired of comparisons, she chose to move out and study away from home. How the feelings between two sisters oscillated between love and plain disdain as we battled our differences and learnt to accept the way we were.

"I still don't know what to talk to him", she said, with downcast eyes. "There is always this distance."

It pains me, to think that we might have failed, as parents and older sister, to stand by her for who she was. We could have done better, I guess.

That day, as we chatted away, it was just two sisters, leading their own independent lives, devoid of all influence and comparison, taking a trip down the memory lane, dusting cobwebs off forgotten memories, realizing together that they had been blessed with a great childhood despite all the odds.

It felt good. Very good.


The day we first went to school together |  The day she got married.

PS : Pardon me for using unfamiliar words. That's the only way I could keep it close to what it actually was. I am giving a brief explanation for some terms used.

Chudva - A snack made of rice flakes
Antakshari - A group game where songs are sung starting with the letter the previous participant ended his song with.
Poli - Bread (Roti/Chapati)



  1. Beyond doubt nostalgia is something that takes us to a new high...opening the floodgate of memories brings us back to life...those good old years...

    1. Oh yeah... It felt so good to reminisce about our past. Things we never do today. That makes those moments all the more special. Thank you for reading :)

  2. I love the way you told this story, starting with a specific memory and then broadening into your childhood as a whole. Nostalgia is indeed a wonderful thing. What a beautiful picture you painted of your family!

    1. Thank you much Cheney! Your feedback is a great boost.

  3. Beautiful post Sampada.....indeed some things like power cuts were a blessing in disguise, bringing everyone together.....!

    1. Thank you Sunaina! Indeed.. on the outset, power cuts, like many other things, may seem so inconvenient. Its just how you make use of the situation that makes it special. Thank you for reading!

  4. Oh wow, this post took me back! Mamachya gavala jaau yaa..such fond memories of that song :) Well written, Sampada!

    1. Thank you Hema ! You know that song? Are you a maharashtrian too ???

  5. A lovely meditation on childhood. This sentence in particular says so much about your family: "Dad would sometimes forget the lines and repeat a previous phrase and mom and Grandma would snuff him out by raising their voices, continuing the right way, not letting him distract their focus." Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thank you so much Meg! Your lovely comment made my day.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...