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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mystery-Memory-Man

A few days ago, Mom recounted a little incident that happened this13th February. A guy in a black car, along with some friends, had stopped in front of our place. Our house is an accommodation provided to us by my Mom's employers, and thus many people have lived in this house before us, and we see signs of their inhabitance around here sometimes. An obscure drilled hole in a wall, nails in all the places where calendars are normally hung, a scored circle on the floor for someone's regular rangoli; little signs that are usually not erased by simple repainting. On that day, however, a not-so-usual sign of former occupants came in the form of a black car, registration number TN-BZ-5127. Obviously, the car was from out of state, bought and registered in Tamil Nadu. My mother did not recognise the model or brand, however she said most probably the current owners either stayed or had stayed in Tamil Nadu at some point of time: the car definitely did not look second-hand.
The guy on the driver's seat was talking to the other people in the car in a mixture of English and a southern language, presumably Tamil. From the few words she could catch, Mom could make out that the gentleman was showing them this place as a part of his childhood, pointing out street corners where he played with his friends and the trees that he grew up with. Making a rough estimate of his age, my Mom figured the approximate year when his parents must have lived here. In all probability, his father (note that female employees of this stature were even rarer back then) had been working in Mom's office. Mom also knew the names of a few former occupants, as happens in a colony of people sharing a workplace. The said family being probably Tamil, that narrowed the list down even further, and finally after setting her mind on a certain former occupant she knew, Mom decided to stop watching from indoors and come out to talk to the guy. However, the man had already seen her watching, and was naturally a bit embarrassed, caught staring at someone else's house and talking about it animatedly. Just as Mom stepped out, the car swerved, and before she could hail them and start a conversation, it was well in motion away from the house.
Listening to this little account, I felt a little bit sad that we missed the chance to listen to someone else's childhood memories regarding the very place we live in, where I am living the memories that I'll cherish later in life; where, maybe, I'd even bring my friends around and show them the area, my heart full of nostalgia and childhood memories. Maybe the then occupants of the house will watch me the same way. And maybe, maybe, they'll come out and stop me before I drive away.
Who was he, after all? Did my mother guess right, was he the son of the person she thought he was? What does he do now? Does he have kids, around my age, who are living their childhood in another cosy little house, that will remain in their memories forever even if they leave it? Who knows; but I wish them well, and I wish that they can cherish their memories as much as their father is cherishing his, when they are his age. I wish, that none of us get too lost in the travails of adult life to remember the little things that made our younger life beautiful.

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