Yesterday,was a lot of fun. It was the "Pakalpooram" at a temple nearby. That's a 5-6 hour long procession of sorts with elephants and percussions and colourful umbrellas and all that hullabaloo. Well,not exactly fun,in the conventional sense,unless it is for those fanatic festival lovers who travel from temple to temple,listening to these. It was fun for me for an altogether different reason.
I was home for this after almost 5 years. So I made it a point to stay till the end to etch it in my memory..who knows when I'll see all this next...I came across a lot of people I haven't set eyes on in years. It was fun to see how these people have changed,how much they have changed etc. These are people I've known for or at least seen all my life. Suddenly I could detect the traces that time left on their faces,their manners etc.
Most interesting was the transformation of the so-called "hotties" and "yuckies" when I was growing up. The first title refers to the guys who were like 7-8 years older than me...my friends' brothers,my cousins' friends from college etc,the ones you are most likely to develop a crush on when you are 14. The second refers to the ones who were my age or were like 3-4 years older,the ones you find yucky and immature and not at all fanciable. I found the change more striking in these two groups maybe because I was looking at them not with the pink shades of a teenager,but with the mature(I can see eyes rolling) sight of a 23 year old.
The older ones have become,well,old. They must ,be in early to mid 30's by now,have developed paunches,started losing hair,gotten married (kiss of death,I tell you),some have even become fathers. The aura of glamour that left kids(then) like me gaping starry eyed at them have more or less diminished. They have become regular 'uncles'.
The ones closer to my age have aged too,as have I. They have become men,rather than the idiotic boys I seem to remember. Some of them have even developed quite intense good looks,text book cases of ugly ducklings growing up to be swans. They don't seem so yucky anymore. Most of them are more or less settled in their careers,or are aiming to be in a couple of years,some are even thinking of marriage and all that comes with it. It is rather strange to see it happening,you know,like I'm stuck in a time warp where everyone else goes forward but me. It is also nice in a way,after all,change is the only unshakeable law of nature.
It was all rather nostalgic for me.As I said it was after 5 years that I was home for this event. It is sort of a big deal for everyone here, you know. Everyone is on the streets,whatever their age and whatever their creed. It is rather endearing,the simplicity of it all. I realise that I might never stay in the place I grew up for any degree of permanence for a long time,perhaps never. I also realise that wherever I go,I shall always carry a piece of this land,these memories with me. It is sort of like an antiquated notion along the lines of "Of my land". That is the only way I can explain the constriction in my chest when I cross the Big River and embark on a journey and the relief I feel when I cross it back to return home. It is like a mental umbilical cord binds me to this place,calls me back to relax and unwind when I'm down.....