Taking a sepia-tinted view of childhood and yearning for the life we once lived are universal phenomena. Our childhood might not have been very comfortable, the past not so perfect yet we love to indulge in sentimental glamourisation of the past, recalling those bygone days with nostalgia. The wistful feeling that everything was better in our world gone by and we were happier is so romantic.
How fondly we recall sleeping under the starry sky on summer nights! Growing up, there were no air conditioners, no coolers either to give respite from the hot weather. Heat inside the rooms used to be so unbearable that sleeping in the open on summer nights was more a matter of compulsion than a choice, yet we are nostalgic about it.
Taking out folding beds and carrying light bedding on the roof every night used to be a tedious routine. All the cots were lined up, one beside the other, with a single pedestal fan to service all the beds. We regale ourselves reminiscing of breezy, pleasant nights but don’t want to remember how we used to get drenched in sweat on sultry nights. We joyously recall counting stars, identifying constellations and our excitement on seeing the shooting stars, but consciously forget droves of mosquitoes at night and flies in the morning hovering over us that won’t let us have a peaceful sleep.
Also, we go into selective memory lapse when we forget the rains disturbing us on several nights, forcing us to rush inside. There were times when we would doggedly keep sleeping in a drizzle but were forced to beat a hasty retreat when it turned into a downpour. As the rain stopped, we would again be back on the terrace. This mid-night to and fro movement was most annoying, but these irritants of yesteryears have conveniently turned into pleasures in our minds.
The fact is that blemishes become faint, almost invisible, when we take a long shot, but a close-up magnifies imperfections. No wonder, while we tend to romanticise and glamourise our past, there is a tendency to discount the blessings of today. .
It is ironical when we were children; we wanted to grow up fast and become independent, but now there is an ache, a longing for the past, the craving to return to the care-free good old days.
The reality is that our reminiscences are not about what life was but the way we choose to recreate it. We remember the fun part, especially of our childhood but overlook the travails and traumas. It is selective amnesia that cleanses the past of all the pain and makes it look appealing. Well, this is the magic of nostalgia!
(Published in The Tribune as MIDDLE on 25 July 2022)