I had deleted these paths from memory.
I hadn’t imagined that I would ever be taking them again. When I had bid goodbye to them six years ago, I was certain that I had tucked them into my past- a past that I would never reopen. But the dice of destiny landed me yet again on these paths. And here I am, writing the sequel to a book whose story had met its conclusion. That story was the story of my formation. The story of how I broke at a million places and then reconstituted myself from the cracks. Every day, I died a little. To that death, I had surrendered all of myself. When I started life afresh, I had nothing left of the old me. I was a new person with a new perspective of life. I never wanted to connect to the old chapters in my life in a realistic sense because the ‘new‘ me was more adept at survival. But I liked to preserve those old chapters in my mind…
A nostalgic getaway at all the times my defenses for survival drained me.
There is perhaps nothing as rejuvenating as being able to slip from the burden of thought to the comforting shade of a nostalgic memory. A memory that brings back the feel of a precious moment lost to time- a memory uncorrupted by the shadow of thoughts.
Turn pages in the album of the mind…
People, places, memories…
Until a tear rolls down the cheek…
As I started my journey today, I realized that I had no memory of the route. I switched on the GPS and allowed myself to be guided by it. As I drove, only a few trees appeared familiar. At some point, I left the NH behind and found myself on rural terrain. The GPS guided me through routes that were alternatives. I drove past barren fields, quaint old houses, chayakkadas (tea stalls) that had long shut down and stagnant waters where water lilies continued to bloom rampantly.
Waters in which I could see a collage of old memories.
I drove through solitary narrow country lanes that brought back the feel of the old laid back times. I passed a few village-folk who had managed to preserve their rural simplicity in a sophisticated technology-driven world.
My mind strayed to that day years ago when I had landed in Kerala after 3 years of living in London. London to rural Kerala had been a significant transition, and an unwelcome one. For one thing, I had adapted completely to life in London, and was deeply in love with my independence, my lifestyle in that country , the opportunity to travel and to meet people from different walks of life.
I had become addicted to the intellectual stimulation that country offered.
Also, my life before London had been one of freedom and anonymity. And here I was, in a place that seemed alien to me. I spent a week or two in denial, refusing to step out of the house, spending all my time indoors, crying at my fate. Eventually, I decided to find a job so as to feel a sense of purpose.
Someone had told me about the new medical college at a place called Anjarakandy.
I drove down, unsure of the route. I was a little surprised when I realized that we were heading towards rural terrain. My concept of an institution had always been rooted in an urban backdrop. Here, traffic was thinning out, and there were trees and streams and boats. I was mesmerized by the sight of a wide river that we passed. At long last, we reached a cinnamon plantation. We drove through a mud trail and landed at our destination.
The college was at the heart of the plantation.
There was very little activity there. A few people, most being employees, went about their work in a laid-back manner. I couldn’t believe this could be a medical college. A single building that housed the hospital and college. A bus that transported people across the plantation. The bus reminded me of stills I had seen of sleepy villages in pre-independence India.
London was like a distant dream.