Lost childhood

If we hark back to the past for the most fragrant part of our life, no surprises for guessing what would flash before the mind's eye.

Sauntering with a toddler took me back to the memory lane of my childhood. What a wonderful place my village is! Surrounded by trees, continuous chirping of birds makes it even more beautiful, especially when one is homesick and fatigued by a city job.

I was on holiday and relaxing in the evening with my three-year-old niece Anvi on the terrace. A mellifluous sound made me turn back. It was a 'bhajan' from the loudspeaker of a temple partially hidden by the trees. I felt nostalgic. It was the same temple which I used to visit with my grandmother a long time ago. I was about 4-5 years old at that time. While she prayed, I used to play. Sometimes jumping from the stairs and sometimes running around the walls of the temple and tapping them.

Feeling jaded by the daily routine, I asked, " Grandma! Why do we come to the temple?" Making me sit on the stairs, she placed her hand on my shoulder and replied in a calm and divine manner, "We get whatever we desire here."

And that cajoled me to peek inside. I entered, closed my eyes, stretched my hand and said, "Bhagwan ji ek toffee de do"(God, give me a toffee). After sometime, I opened one eye and saw 'nothing'. Closing my eyes, I prayed again. Then, I opened both eyes, with the same result. I grumbled before grandma, "I didn't get what I desired." She laughed loudly and then cooed, "God has listened to you," giving me a rupee to buy toffees. I crossed the road to fetch toffees from a shop and was the happiest person in the world.

History repeated itself 20 years later. Showing the temple to my niece, I asked her to fold her hands and pray. "Jai," she said while clapping her hands. I asked her to demand anything from God. "Olange (orange)," she replied.

"What else?" I asked. "Dauva (guava)," came the reply. She came across as a health-conscious child who preferred fruits to a toffee or a chocolate.

The incident took me back to my lost childhood. I kissed her chubby cheeks and looked at the sky with a wry smile for the innocence of childhood.


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