I was about to title it: My Birthday, My Reasons to Live — the Final Word, to rhyme with the two articles I wrote on this subject: (1) the Foreword and (2) the Frontal Word.
Then I said to myself: why do I have to make it sound so sentimental, so full of melancholy? The Final Word? Really!! Why? Am I going to die or something? No siree, no way!
I wouldn’t want to write the final word — yet. Like, borrowing the cliché, I have miles to go before I sleep.
Meanwhile, quite a few readers — some of them close friends and longtime well-wishers — sent their own words of encouragement after they read the foreword and the frontal word (if you haven’t read them, please click on the two links above — thank you). They said I should write more about the many pleasant experiences I often talked about — memories both from India and the U.S. A few of them said, they didn’t know unlocking pleasant memories could be so fascinating. They said, fishing memories out of the abyss of oblivion could actually work like psychotherapy…or at least…a yoga exercise.
They said something I’ve said all along: pour your heart, be honest to yourself, write about the most sincere, true feelings, and never fear if they sound too personal. I’ve always said that if you can touch the bottom of that deep, dark ocean of your heart where the best memories are carelessly saved, scattered like the most precious pearls, with them you can buy anybody anywhere in this world — regardless of their language, lifestyle or matters of love.
In fact, some of these pearls are actually touchstones. You touch your chosen reader with that stone, and even the most indifferent, most stoic, most prosaic person would turn gold.
Try it. Close your eyes, go back down memory lane, and unlock the most precious moments of life.
Let’s walk this beautiful, happy journey together.
(1) A new cricket ball — the Deuce ball we knew back in our school days — with the shiny, blood red color and yellow midrib stitches was something we didn’t get to touch too much. Only during precious interclass matches, interschool league games or our annual staff vs. students matches we got to use them. Rather, we were allowed to use them.
I had a very precious experience to play interschool summer cricket on Calcutta’s legendary Eden Gardens. I rolled the ball fast on the lush, green ground. It rolled on the silky-soft carpet as if someone poured liquid-crystal mustard oil on a just-baked corn cob and smeared it around the cob with his palm. Smooth, silent, intimate, sensual.
(2) Here’s one of my favorite. In your childhood, have your ever slept in the middle of a roomful of grownups who loved you like the pearl of their eyes? You must have. Think about it. I have. You sleep, as they say, like a child. You know you have no fear because these adults would be there for you, with you and around you as long as you sleep. You do not need to know what they’re talking about. You do not need to know what they’re laughing about. You have no reason to understand their language. The only language you know is the language of their love. You know you can sleep in complete peace in the midst of that loud, raucous crowd. You are safe.
(3) Try these now. How was your first experience to ride a bicycle? How was your first experience to catch a fish on your cheap fishing rod? (In my case, it was not even a regular fishing rod: someone put a white string with a small hook at the tip of a hard twig. But it was no different from a fancy fishing experience: once you catch a fish, you catch a fish!). Or, how
was your first experience to smoke a cigarette hiding in the earthen alley behind your school building, just before the prayer bell rang? How was your first experience riding a country boat to cross the Ganges under the Swami Vivekananda bridge, and that too, in the middle of a Bengal monsoon with dark clouds hovering? How was your first experience to go deep on a motor boat into the dreaded Sundarban mangrove forest where the dreaded Bengal Tigers were absolutely, positively looking for an easy human prey? How was your first experience to pick up hundreds of multicolored shells off the vast Bay of Bengal beach? How was your first experience to get into the sanctum sanctorum of a thousand year-old Hindu temple where your can feel the presence of God everywhere? How was your first experience to walk into the Grotto in Nazareth, Palestine where Jesus Christ was born? For me, honest to God, it was a hair-raising moment.
So many such memorable moments of life! So many pearls, so many precious gems.
It would talk another lifetime to talk about this lifetime full of such experiences — one at a time.
But I do hope to do it. I hope to tell you more stories soon. Meanwhile, why don’t you unlock your own memories — for us?
Just close your eyes and go back down memory lane. It would actually work like psychotherapy…or at least…a blissful yoga exercise.
Brooklyn, New York