Back in Time

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It was an unlikely group on an implausible journey. Bound by blood and a common past, we liked to call ourselves ‘the originals’. By definition, we are not a legal family – a social unit of adults and their dependant children. Our parents are retired, but not tired octogenarians and we, their offspring, are tiresome, middle aged professionals who still depend on them to break up our fights.

It was a long cherished dream. We had talked about it incessantly while growing up, many times in our youth and only occasionally now that we are responsible adults with families and careers . Caught in the business of living, it took us four and a half decades to commit to the plan, but we did it. We took a sabbatical from our present to visit our past. We temporarily ‘abandoned’ our acquired families, spouse, children et al to retrace our steps to Canada and peek into our childhood . Almost half a century after we had laid our first tentative steps on an alien land and were blown away by its warmth we returned to Montreal to an equally cordial reception.

The moment we swung into the Mc Gill university campus everything looked familiar. We quickly identified buildings and structures, excitedly named streets and land marks. Our apartment looked essentially the same, though, keeping with its new name, Eco-residence, it is much greener now. Nostalgia gripped us as we noted that the brick pattern on the living room walls and the wooden floor tiles were as we had left them. The rooms had shrunk though. It was difficult to imagine that so many happy parties had been catered from the minuscule kitchen which still had the old stove oven.

To our adult eyes it seemed that magically, things had been set to a smaller scale. Distances appeared shorter, objects smaller. The long tiring walk to dad’s college, mum’s work place and our swimming pool is actually a leisurely ten minute stroll. The hill from which we would ride down on our bikes turned out to be a gentle undulations in the green landscape. The patch in which mum grew vegetables is stamp- size but is still laden with fresh produce. Everything had shrunk, only the trees had grown taller and grander.

I noticed that dad, an alumnus of the University, had suddenly become younger. There was a bounce in his step and a twinkle in his eye as he proudly showed us around. When the director honoured dad, I wondered if this was what beckoned us. The need to see where it all started. And I realised that there was something else too. All our life the Canadian experience has been a yardstick with which others were measured. Things were sometimes like Canada, rarely better and most often just not as good. The pancakes were never as fluffy, the doughnuts never as crumbly and the ice cream was just not smooth enough. So it had become important to find out whether the past was as glorious as we thought or just a fantasy that we had carried into adulthood. I was somewhat relieved to discover that our adopted country was as vibrantly beautiful as in my dreams and the citizens as warm. And in case you are wondering, the pancakes were as delicious as we remembered and the ice cream was just awesome.

As my brother pushed mum’s wheelchair through familiar terrain I was reminded of the times almost half a century ago when mum would push him in his baby carriage. Back then, my brother would insist that he could walk just like mum did now. In both cases the wheels were just a convenience to avoid the crankiness of an over exhausted child……
Life had indeed come full circle!

( published in the open space of The Hindu on 26/1 as ‘An experienced relived’) 

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19 thoughts on “Back in Time

  1. Dr. Ritu Agrawal says:

    Its not only nostalgic its beautifully scripted and sentimental tooo ~~~no words no actions r enough fr the parents who stepped into the unknown to give an edge to their children

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks Ritu, the quick responder . It was my brothers generosity that made it possible. As we keep telling him even he can’t outdo this gesture!!

  2. Dr Kiran Bajaj says:

    The article is certainly something we can all relate to.We all have a perception of certain reterospective things in our mind as the most beautiful time of our lives.Beautifully illustrated eith this short story m’am.

  3. Dr Priyanka says:

    Article worth reading ma’am . ……we always take pleasure in experiencing certain past wonderful moments which are always embedded in our subconscious mind and a sudden encounter makes our present as nostalgic as ever

  4. Raghu Mo han says:

    Madam namasthe
    First of all congratulations for your blog and your opinions, articles. They are nice.
    Today only I have gone through your article in the Hindu and read about your blog.
    I am resident of kurnool andhrapradesh and I’m advocate by profession
    With regards
    Raghu Mohan

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for following me. I update my blog fairly regularly so keep visiting.

  5. Ravi Shankar says:

    Dear Madam

    Congratulations are in order for your well-written article published in the Hindu.. All of us would love to do what your family did. Congrats for that too. Do take a look at my article. Your feedback is appreciated.

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks sir. We managed to do it because of a very generous brother. I always find your articles inspiring.

  6. Dr Arti Kaushal says:

    Very well written Dr Manju. Loved the last paragraph.. Hoping for many more

  7. Ramesh Saathiya Moorthy says:

    Dear Ms. Manju Gupta

    Happy to see your article in today’s Hindu
    At the outset, I introduce as one of the leading agents of Life Insurance Corporation of India. Kindly keep me informed about your writing and any services you may require regarding LIC. regards

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks sir. Will keep you updated

  8. Carmelina says:

    Hello Manju,
    Great article and very touching, love the pictures! Not sure if you have but I will pass on the article to the Mac alumni office.

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks Carmelina. No i had not sent it to the McGill alumni

  9. Amita gupta says:

    Very well written article. Circle of life is both eternal and magical. Beautifully explained.

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for reading between the lines Amita

  10. Humberto says:

    Through the eyes of a child everything is on the grand scale, and your depiction of it, once again reminded me of my very own upbringing! Well done, and thank you for allowing us to accompany you on your journey. I think personally I gained more from it than you did, YOU were ALL an inspiration and a breath of fresh air for me, especially your parents, for which I hope they are doing great, as their voices resonate in my head, each and every word. THANK YOU.

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks humberto, you and julie enhanced our experience. We remember you fondly.

  11. Balakumaran says:

    From: Balakumaran
    Subject: “The Hindu” – An experience relived

    Message Body:
    Hi Manju,
    Thoroughly enjoyed your write-up in the Open Page section of The Hindu – 26 Jan ’16. If you are a travel blogger by interest please do let me know
    Balakumaran from Bangalore

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks Balkumaran for your kind comments. I blog on a number of issues on, travel being one of them. I love to travel and share my experiences. Why do you ask?

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