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Growing up for us was tough- Remembering Childhood

Growing up for us was tough- Part 1

 

Was it really tough? I can’t contradict myself at the beginning of an article. Even the most seasoned politicians can’t do it, but I am not a politician anyway. Am I a confused writer or a little bit of alcohol has befuddled me? Without being judgmental myself or giving an undertaking that I don’t want to be the judge of my own writings, for then, I may never post these for others to read, but I don’t think I have gone mental either. The best that I can do is to write how it was, when we were growing up and let the reader decide whether it was easy or tough. I grew up in 1950s. In those days, you were not the only one- apple of the eyes of your parents, they used to have their basket full of apples of their eyes. Doting mother and a pampering father, to take care of every little need of you, the way we see them parents playing out their roles, helping them do their homework, packing their bags, polishing their shoes, ironing their clothes, tying their shoes laces, filling up their water bottles and dropping them at the school gates in their cars, with real kisses planted on their cheeks and flying kisses trailing them- it feels like being in the heaven.

The mother rubs vicks on the chest and the father readies steam inhaler, mother calls her mom to ask about what to administer and the father searches on Google, if the child sneezes once, even if as a prank by inserting an irritant in the nose. None of these, there was none of these. A slap would remedy most of our ailments and a mere rebuke was enough to set our moods right. For pain in the stomach there was ajwain ki loon-fakki ( Thyme seeds), for pain in the ears was a hot sarson ka tel ( Mustard oil)  in which pods of garlic were added, for upset stomach it was naga ( fasting) and for cold it was Kadha ( Concoction of some herbs). For cough it was mullethi ( Licorice ) and for cold it was steam inhalation and naswaar ( Snuff-It was some powder given by the Ayurvedic Doctor dispensary. It used to cause sneezing and induce sleep) . For pus filled wounds, thorns and splinters it was a poultice of haldi (turmeric) and sarson ka tel ( Mustard oil) and for warding of evils there used to be a talisman or just a crescent of a moon made of silver, hanging from the neck in black thread or worn around the naval. For more serious ailment there used to be chanting of the prayers and even taking the sick child bodily to the temple for thanksgiving at the signs of regression of the disease. When we were babies for colics it used to be saunf (Anis seeds) chewed by the mom and fed to us or Gripe water or Waterbury’s compound or Janam Ghutti, for taking care of the eyes there were surma and Kajal (soot rising from the wick of earthen lamps burning pure ghee or mustard oil as fuel) deposited on cold surfaces of bronze plate and for warding off evil eye, there used to be a black dot on the forehead.

Tinde

In those days one had to be very careful about what to speak, when to speak and whom to speak to. It was dangerous to get carried away by one’s thoughts and imaginations, but since the realities were harsh one couldn’t help but drift in to the world of dreams. During one such drifts, I remember I expressed my dislike for Gheea and Tinde, maybe protested to the mother also, I don’t remember, but I am sure, she didn’t report it to the despotic head of the family as she never would or should I say could. But one had to be wary of the informers who were abound and always around. So, the news had reached the tyrant who had a soft core, of which I came to know after having lived all my childhood in fear.

Ghia

His voice had hundreds of tonal inflexions and our ears were so trained as to pick the slight changes in those. Aidhar aa (Come here), he called me in a voice which wasn’t mild but wasn’t terrifying either. Shivering, I presented myself before him as the tears started floating in my eyes. Ki gal tainu Ghia nayeen pasand? What, you don’t like Bottle gourd? I tried to control my thin shaking frame because the heaviest part, the head along with the whole body was now oscillating about the median in a manner that represent “No” in India. It could have been some solace, had I known that in China this shaking of head in left right direction means yes, but  I knew little about China except that it was a hostile neighbour that had attacked us. But the moving scenes of the movie haqeeqat that I had seen recently then, came crowding to me and the tears that had flown that day in the theatre, now had a reason to run down in torrents. He pulled me by the arm and his huge arm had me in an anaconda like grip. Bayeemana Oye ( you cheat- said teasingly) , he said in a suddenly softened voice using his favourite endearment. Ais ghar which jo vi banyega ohi khana payega. ( In this house, you will have to eat what ever food is cooked). His voice hardened as he delivered this dictum. I shook my head violently in affirmation as I escaped from his hold taking advantage of now slackened grip. But did his hold on me slacken? I had little the reason for. His message sank so deep in me that my dislike for some vegetables vanished. That was the end of my desire to be choosy about food. Today, if someone, by which you may know who I am referring to, asks me, what would I like to have, I feel more than honoured and my jaw drops in awe and respect. The words fail to leave the hollow called my mouth because there are none that can dare to rise to the audible levels. But, a mere mention Ghia and Tinde sets my heart singing. I don’t think it is because of the fear that settled in my subconscious that day. He passed away thirty years ago and I am supposed to be the boss of the house. Although, nowhere like he was, but at times, such an illusion is allowed to cloud my mind when some unfamiliar tonal inflexions of otherwise bland voice ask me “Kya khaoge? And it really doesn’t sound like those days when the options were only between Daant (Scolding) or Chhitter..and what’s a chhittar? Every Punjabi child who grew up in the sixties is familiar with it.

All pictures are for the internet and have been used here for representational purposes only

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Navneet Bakshi

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Chander Kiran
Chander Kiran
1 year ago

Dear Navneet, you have pictures our childhood so well,no scope of refusing to have something…I didn’t like ginger but couldn’t remove it from the platter ..
and I love it today ..we were not allowed to cry ..
the threat was that you would not be allowed to go to school …and that seemed real…a very well written article …but I wasn’t the informer
.
.

Suresh Rao
Suresh Rao
1 year ago

Good beginning. Surprised you remember what you were fed with as a kid…. I don’t!

Keep it moving fast… I want to read the juicy tidbits of a Punjabi boy in school and college!

Ushasurya
Ushasurya
1 year ago

Nice nostalgic trip into the by lanes of childhood…the likes and dislikes of vegetables. Now the Modern Moms ask even the five year old “What do you want for dinner, Sweetie? Pasta or roti?”
Aw!! Even while I was in college ( more than 17 years old) my mother would give us milk and rice for night dinner with a piece of jaggery as side dish.
Even on Amavasya day when the elders would have Dosa, ” My grandmother would say, “such a young plant without even three leaves ” you want tiffen for the night? No..Eat rice. ”
Times have changed Navneet. I remember sliding pieces of karela under my plate when I was young..and one day my father would not get up after dinner and waited till I finished eating and told me,”Lift your plate.” and discovered the Karela pieces. After that I ate karela whenever it was served! Now I love karela!! I love all vegetables:)))

Ushasurya
Ushasurya
1 year ago
Reply to  Navneet Bakshi

well Navneet
At least they are open to comments and do bot react violently like the Islamists! They don’t kill or set fire !! And they are tolerant and mind their business!!!

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