I’ve lost many things in the course of my life. But there is one thing I’ve lost, which has been haunting me over the past few months. It’s strange you see, because I never ever thought of it as being ‘lost’.
What am I talking about? My childhood.
During the last few months, faced with grief, pain, fear, and uncertainty, I’ve been wishing more and more that I could go back in time to my childhood.
I remember specific instances of very mundane everyday life back in the 90s when I lived in the city of Nawabs—Lucknow—and am overwhelmed with nostalgia and wistfulness to be a child again. To run in the gardens of Lalbagh Methodist Church, to find little nooks in those old British buildings where we children would play hide and seek, and tell each other stories. To eat hot cross buns after Easter sunrise service each year. To warm myself under the warm winter sun on the terrace, reading my latest Enid Blyton. To wake up listening to the same Graham Kendrick CD every morning. To walk in the gardens around the Residency where the first war of Independence in 1857 was fought and lost and marvel at the weight of history in those old ruins. To discover the joy of old British era buildings and even older nawabi architecture – I’m pretty sure my love for history and old buildings was born from all those innumerable visits to those historical sites. The beauty was that these visits were usually just family picnics with my father, mother, and sister. Nothing fancy; just us with homemade lunch, a couple of blankets, and a frisbee. To sit in the cycle rickshaw on cold winter mornings and be covered in blankets, scarves, and sweaters, and while away the ride to school by laughing and blowing to see who’s breath was foggier. To ride my cycle to school, meeting up with friends on the road and riding together, spending my lunch hour in the library arranging books, figuring out how to escape the Math teacher’s razor sharp eye in class, daydreaming in class (a perennial note in every report card of mine!) – life was simple.
And I’ve lost that.
Life, now, is complicated.
As a child, I always thought my parents were so awesome because they had everything figured out. My sister and I never had to fear for anything because they were always there, protecting us, guiding us, giving us a lovely childhood. Looking back now, they probably had their share of challenges with job losses, months with no income, and living far away from family. We moved a lot of houses, and schools, but my sister and I never felt out of place; my parents always made every house we moved to – home.
Being a parent now, I sometimes wonder if I’m providing the same sense of security—that sense of home—to my children. Honestly, there are days I want to be back in that safe cocoon my parents built around me.
I wish I didn’t have to make decisions.
I wish I wasn’t the one whom my children were depending on.
I wish I could stop being afraid.
Still, whoever said that being an adult meant being without fear? Perhaps my parents had their fears too. Being a child, I probably never saw or understood. All I saw was the safe home my parents created (which I pretty much took for granted) where there was always a listening ear, a helping hand, and an encouraging word. Where I always knew I belonged.
Maybe I’ve lost that uncomplicatedness, but such is life given the passage of time. I can, however, give that gift to my children.
Photo by Rachael Crowe on Unsplash