“Mohabbat ke mod pe hum
Mile sab ko chhod ke hum
Dhadakte dilon ka leke ye karavan
Chale aaj dono jaane kahan”
These are lines from an iconic song from the 1960s, when I was barely 13 years old. I think I was in Class 8 or thereabouts. I listened to this song just now on Youtube and watched the video while listening. When I was in school someone had a 78rpm record that played this song on a gramophone time and again, pausing every now and then to change the needle of the gramophone. Very quickly my entire class started humming this song and it became “our song”.
I started counting backwards and lost my breath in wonder. It was 58 years ago. The title of this blog tells you my feelings thinking of how long it has been since I discovered the wonder of this iconic song’s lyrics. For those of you who understand Hindi and Urdu, you may understand the purity of the hope of a first love and the thrill of expectations from that love embodied in the lines above.
Yes, we fell in love often at that age. All it took was a fleeting glance at a pair of haunting eyes, tossing loose hair, pursed lips, or simply a swishing skirt or a girl’s school uniform. It would haunt my young and impressionable mind for days on end, making me yearn for another glance at the object of my affections That rarely happened, but yes it did occasionally, resulting in deep love that lasted a lifetime. By the love lasting a lifetime I mean that I still remember some of those incidents from what was basically a childhood so full of innocence, it makes me gasp in wonder today.
What are we after all, but a sum of all our experiences, memories and the unconscious erasing of all the unpleasant experiences of that era. It was truly golden, but only in our innocent minds. In some ways, I feel like that child is still in me somewhere, refusing to go away. Some people who know me well, see that child inside me even today. But the years of weary work, negativity, positivity, life’s journey incidents have smothered that child inside me today. Innocence is a thing of the past buried under layers of sin, mistakes, good deeds, dodging bullets and ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’.
I will never submit an argument which even calls them ‘the good old days’, because they were not. But what they were is totally different. They were an age of innocence for me, an innocence I still can feel and touch inside me. It does not matter that the child is not visible to anyone else other than me. I know it is there, because that child often surfaces when I am alone.
But, like most people who age, while I may not remember what I wore yesterday or what I had for dinner the night before that, I remember the scenes of all of us children singing this song tunelessly but with great vigour and enthusiasm. It was almost a call to love for an unseen lover.
But then, I am sure I am not writing anything that other people of my generation do not already know. I am sure the child is there inside all of them and some of them may also not know it. C’est la vie!