Spice of Life: Childhood, treasure box of priceless pearls from past
Today, I could give anything to feel that wonder which seems to escape me in this day and age. The remainder of our days were filled with hikes, strawberry picking, gully cricket with neighbourhood kids, home-baked chocolate cakes with milk and hours of playing carrom.
Childhood memories are like a pirate’s treasure box stashed away carefully to be used in times of need. It is a reminder of a period of time when laughter and games were bountiful, and happiness was not a luxury. As I sat down one day with my friend reminiscing about the days gone by, one memory jumped out at me.
Decades ago, when I was a girl of 10, we were on a family holiday to the hill station of Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh. A day before leaving, my eight-year-old brother and I packed a box full of goodies to munch on the way and a bagful of books to read on our getaway. Unable to contain our excitement we hardly slept the night before whiling away the hours by dreaming about the adventures ahead. Finally, we departed and as the car climbed higher, the air grew mistier and soon we were among clouds and lush landscapes.
On reaching our destination, a cute cottage owned by one of the town residents, we were welcomed by the owner’s daughter who gave us a tour of the property. Our faces lit up on seeing the red hues emanating from a gorgeous strawberry garden in the backyard. The tiredness of the seven-hour journey seemed to vanish away as we greedily plucked and stuffed ourselves with the luscious fruit, scarcely available at that time in cities. The rest of the evening went by quickly as we explored the nearby forest for pathways, squirrels and wild mushrooms. Soon the dinner bell rang, and hearing it reverberating in the hills, we rushed to the house eager to satiate our hunger pangs. We dug into local delicacies prepared by our hosts as they regaled us with folklore dating generations back. Come bedtime and we could hardly get through a page of Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood, our eyes heavy and hearts full.
The next day, shoes strapped on, sticks in hand, stuffed backpacks with jam sandwiches, hot tea and water, we marched onto a hiking trail a little distance away from our lodgings. We decided to spot and name as many insects and birds as we could during the arduous trek, our parents and the local guide helping us along the way. Sipping on our refreshments and listening to the sounds of the forest was all the entertainment we needed in those times.
As we reached our final stop, a temple at the top of the hill, the sight that awaited us took our breath away. The clouds, which as kids seemed so far away, swayed beneath us along with uncountable mountains dotted with pine trees. Today, I could give anything to feel that wonder and awe which seems to escape me in this day and age. The remainder of our days were filled with many such hikes, strawberry picking, gully cricket with the neighbourhood kids, home-baked chocolate cakes with milk and hours of playing carrom.
Today whenever I think of this holiday, the sweet memories pour in like raindrops on barren land, filling me with warmth and gratefulness for the priceless pearls of the past. firstname.lastname@example.org
The writer is a Ludhiana-based freelance contributor