As I saw him pull up his socks under his pants, gently push his feet into the brown shoes and tie the laces with his shaky hands, I felt as though I was time travelling. Physically I was in 2019, staring at him but mentally I was somewhere in 2008. Suddenly, my mind was relaxed, a hundred things did not run through my mind, I had no deadlines to keep and I was not consciously blocking out my stress. I half expected my aunt to come down, wearing a colorful saree, smelling like the yellow- staining majanta perfume and say where all the food and snacks were kept and insist that we eat all the chocolates in the fridge- then wave us goodbye as then she would proceed to get on the scooter behind him with her bag around her shoulder and the pallu of her saree tucked on her lap. We would keep waving and standing by the gate until they turned around the corner, common courtesy I suppose. The radio in the room is still playing old Malayalam songs. The radio itself was very old and I cannot remember a time without it playing these old songs, waking me up in the morning while my aunt is in the kitchen whipping up some breakfast.
Thus began a long 8 hours in my summer vacation. Some days we would go shopping during the day. Mostly for books, otherwise we would not be willing to leave the house. Travel in the rain to buy chips and pickles? No thanks. Travel in the rain to buy chips, pickles AND look at books? Yeah, alright. (Now I understand that kids are easy to manipulate.)
And some days we would laze around watching TV, eating all the aforementioned snacks, reading books (a simpler time, before the era of smartphones) and wait for them to come back. By evening, my mom would wake me up from my nap, scolding me to not sleep at dusk, and then she would proceed to light the lamp and start the evening prayers. By the time she’s done the sound of the gate opening would be music to our ears and both my aunt and uncle would be back with a whole lot of treats. We would make Tea and coffee and sit around the table talking about our day. And without fail, every year, whenever I go there, they would never forget to buy me the traditional snack Bholee. I don’t think I’ve eaten it from anywhere except their house.
These memories felt untainted and happy. I could stay in that moment forever.
However, I was snapped back to 2019 by the sound of the door closing behind my uncle. For a brief moment, I was back to being a 11 year old with no care in the world. So much has changed-
The radio starts to play old Malayalam songs and my aunt hums along in the kitchen whipping up some breakfast for me.
But somethings, remain the same – comforting and familiar.