Monday, March 16, 2015

Memories of the old mango tree….

Grandparents are like the huge green tree standing tall in the courtyard of a house. Even if they are not a part of the household, they hold the roots of the house. After a busy exhausting day, the family spends its evenings around the tree. I was never close to my grandparents but I know they love me the most in the world. They have always been a part of the holiday package to my native village. Even though we have a huge house in village, I have always seen them sleeping outside because they believe after a certain age, they should abstain from family life. However, their love for me never deterred.  They would make swings for me by tying ropes to the old mango tree with ropes and sacks. They would ensure I always get the best mangoes and guavas. Although they never talked to me but their eyes would always follow me everywhere I go. Summer vacations were the best time of the year for me because I would visit my village and spend most of the days under the old mango tree in our courtyard, playing with my cousins.

Every year when my parents packed our luggage after the vacations to come back home, I cried my heart out. It would kill me going away from my family. Twenty years ahead when I am living hardly 100 km from my village, I am not even able to make a phone call. Such is the irony of life. I dare not say I am not having fun. In B schools, we study hard and party hardest. We have late night classes, mid night dinners, DJ nights, night out with friends, bunking lectures etc. but sometimes it hurts thinking of how my grandparents insist me every week to visit them. So when the college called for entries for a video making competition on values and ethics, our group decided unanimously that we should go back to our roots and capture the innocence that still resides in the hinterlands of our India. Without giving it a second thought, the gang called sick and within an hour, we set off for an amazing road trip.

Scorching sun, speeding trucks, dust storm, wild bushes- everything was a turn off until we passed a small hill and entered into lush green forests. All along the way, I made sure no one was sleeping and everyone gets bored listening to the stories of my village. I was thrilled that I was going to introduce my metal rock loving friends to a simple hard working peasant family. To be very frank, I had no idea how it was going to turn to be but it was kind of amusing. My grandparents were totally taken by surprise – not because I was there unannounced but because I was the only girl in the group of six. After an hour of awkward small talks and forced smiles, everyone seemed to be at ease. My uncle was busy narrating stories of our family’s history and my poor friends totally believed them. Meanwhile my aunties and grandmother called me aside to ask whether I am dating any one of them. It was a crazy experience bringing all my loved ones together but something crazier was still pending.

We climbed the wall in the backyard of the house to enter the village primary school. The staff thought we are some kind of education inspector. Considering that we did not communicate anyone about our arrival and we needed prior permission from the school authority for shooting a video, we did not try to clarify our true identity. Thus, for the next two hours, we were the government servants. Principal came forward to give explanation for thin attendance, poor mid day meal etc. and teachers started pouring in with their complaints and recommendations. It was the same school where my parents studied and I owed a lot to that place. What amused me the most was that despite of the massive success and omnipresence of television, Tata Sky and Internet, village residents especially children were really smitten by presence of city dwellers much in the same way we stare at foreign tourists in the city. Their innocence and love was unparalleled and within minutes we became friends. It was one of the most wonderful days of my life for I saw the earth and sky meeting at the horizon.



Finally, it was a day when I really made my grandparents happy. They were happy not only because I was there but also because they realized that the aliens the world knows as Generation X and Y are not aloof. They are just the newest, greenest and farthest leaves of the old mango tree standing tall in the courtyard. They stay far but are still connected to their roots. They draw their strength from the tree and that is the power of togetherness. 

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