What I miss are the simple joys. My fridge is stocked with some of the nicest ice-creams, but what’s missing is the good old “chuski”, made from crushed ice, and cheap, syrupy, flavoured liquids in different colours. I miss waiting for dad to come home, knowing fully well, he’d bring home some snacks to munch on. I miss Phantom Cigarettes, a politically incorrect but juicy candy stick shaped like a cigarette. I miss the Pan Pasand candy, and the samosa guy, who’d bring hot samosas on his pushcart, while we all sat in our small gardens, mothers knitting, children playing. I miss the first rains when my friend Payal and I would rush out, getting drenched, till someone’s mother lost patience and dragged us inside to hot milk and some half hearted scolding. I miss driving around on her scooter, discussing our secret crushes, and eating cheap street-side Chinese food. I miss feeling all dolled up and glamorous when Dad got me these uber-chic Jumpsuits, made of the finest Mulmul cotton. I miss scrubbing the tiles and the floor of my pristine white bathroom, and hearing my Mother boast about how beautifully I kept my room. I miss opening the East facing windows in my first floor bedroom, overlooking the massive garden, or stepping out into the balcony on winter mornings, breathing in the crisp air, hearing the loud chatter of the parrots that invaded a large tree nearby. I miss jumping behind little frogs as they sought to escape a bunch of noisy kids out on summer nights, with two months of post school vacations.
None of these things cost much. Most of them cost nothing. But, such joy! I read a quote today that said that maybe the emptiness we all feel inside comes from leaving a bit of ourself inside everything we ever loved. Perhaps which is why, my mother claimed, that people who love often and love a lot, exhaust themselves faster. She must have known. She was, in my opinion, comprised solely of love. Now that I have seen the worlds beyond my own little life, been to other countries, savoured so many experiences, that a generation ago were nothing more than wild fantasies, I feel so empty. Add to that, this constant pressure from the world to feel “happiness”. We all know what that means. You open your Facebook every morning, and you will know what I am talking about. Everyone seems to be on a vacation. They all have better jobs, better homes, better spouses, better kids, better clothes and better skin than yours. Or do they?
The world is full of Joneses, trying to keep up with each other, and forgetting that there is a life going past them, un-lived, unacknowledged. And when you are done with it all, you are left with this all occupying emptiness that no amount of material goods in the world will fill. Because that’s not what created the void in the first place. Bring back the candy, the singing frogs, those mud filled puddles, horse rides, childhood pets, secret hideouts, girly gossip, street food, worn out slippers and old dolls. And maybe a piece of you, long lost, will be finally found.