The Earliest Memories-2

English: Mango tree in full bloom

Red and black ants swarming the chipped bark of the mango tree that rests on the ground. It rained all last night. I pick up this piece of disowned wood and see that it is in shreds and has been rotting while lying untouched on the way. Thanks to all the rain and absence of any sun. Fanning the ants running on my hands off I walk ahead. One of my legs sinks in the mud. The slipper refuses to leave the swamp and I try to lift my foot out of it. I try doing so forcibly. The slipper parts unwillingly and emerges accompanied with a spurt of smooth soil- water paste all over the back of my shirt and trousers. All potential energy of the earth gets converted into kinetic. This splash over the uncovered portions of my skin irritates. Walking further ahead I bend to scratch and itch the feeling away. The little muddy droplets mingle with the hair on my leg and clog the free flow of my fingers over them.

A plot of thoroughly tilled land comes my way. Men, women and children would possibly bend all day and sow the paddy seedlings today. The tractor on a previous day has already dismantled the plain earth of this field as it must have existed and its ploughing blades have left a uniform pattern of undulating crests and troughs in the furrows. On the face of it, this zig zag of the soil appears solid and undaunted by the excessive pour. Believing it to be taut I put my right foot on one of those little mounds only to check if it is actually as dry as they all appear to be. The foot sinks and sinks. Oh! It sinks and sinks further.

By now, the lower end of my trousers must have a thick coat of useless clay uniformly painted over it. The folds that I made in the trousers a while ago must be heavy with a lot of slush settled down in there. The mess I am in!

The mere thought of walking on a concrete road laden with baked bricks feels like bliss. A monkey on the nearby guava tree jumps around from one of its branches to another. So many fruitlets it spoils that otherwise would have matured into full awesome tasting fruits.

From the grotesque muddy path through the field that I am in, I see the road that I did not take because of the distance it could have added to my walk back home. People walking, riding on cycles, scooters and motorcycles seem to move so freely as if the air around them were lubricant of a kind. The one encircling me is static and has edges so sharp that I can’t move. It is one of those moments when the world appears indifferent to one’s plight. I will never be out of this mess, I am convinced. Frowning at myself, I curse the moment when the decision to take this ‘shortcut’ was made. Should I go back to where I started from and then choose that royal road? No- That would be a lot of walking back. The destination is still very far off and I choose to somehow proceed once again. I think of all the lovely things imagined about these villainous fields- “Ten thousand I saw at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance” must have been one such field teeming with smiling daffodils. And also of all the songs that are shot in such lands- the ones where the heroes sing and dance and romance. Who would know of the marshy nuisance these fields are once a year at least. It is only mud here and nothing else. Earth that sticks, stains and perturbs. Throwing away the slipper should help I think. Even to throw it away I would need to take it out of the mucky gorge in the first place. The braces of my chappal stretch to their limit as I pull my leg out once again with all the effort possible. The braces are about to snap. The earth releases the leg and retains my slippers. In the process I lose balance, my hands search for support. There is nobody around and no tree trunk to hold on to. Just the expanse of the fields with a few trees here and there. A fresh contingent of super dark clouds approaching me from the distant horizon. I fall on my hands and the moist green grass on the strip that divides the fields between brothers wets my palms. Broken and crushed blades of fresh green grass, numerous tiny dark shreds of rotting wood and a little insect land on my palm when I regain posture. I rub the palms against each other so as to drive off the rot and the insect and the greens. The palms don’t rub as smoothly as they would when I get up early morning everyday. To dry these palms I once again rub them against my butt and the soft cloth of my trousers takes care of the rest. My hands smell awfully bad. As if testifying to the act of murdering nature- the one I just carried out twice- first in my head and then in the depths of my heart.

34 thoughts on “The Earliest Memories-2”

  1. I read this breathlessly. And I so like it.
    The lines before and after the Wordsworth line you quote are also beautiful:

    “A host of dancing Daffodils;
    Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
    Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

    The waves beside them danced, but they
    Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: – ”

    Maybe I am overoptimistic, but the small nightmare that you describe isn’t the way of nature for enriching itself (herself?) and give fruit ? maybe you did not really “murder nature” – as it must have felt then – but you actually helped to churn the soil.

    1. Oh..I wasnt too sure if it turned out to be good enough. Your appreciation of it is definitely some relief! Thanks a lot.

      I won’t say you are being overoptimistic. What you say is surely one way of looking at nature- as the bountiful and the ever sustaining. It’s about the perspectives which emerge at certain moments in life. A person caught under the rubble of a building that fell in an earthquake would surely think of nature otherwise. Just a lame thought!

      And yes, I do admire your sense of liking for English poetry. Seems there is a lot to enjoy about it in the process of hearing from you. Do visit again!

      1. Thank you so much T.P. ! I am a regular visitor of your blog because I like your ability to put your Personal Concerns and observations into words. Entering the mind-heart of others is a deeply human experience.

  2. You described perfectly how it feels to walk on wet slippery muddy fields. Excellent writing. Enjoyed it very much. Though I have a different feeling about walking in the mud. I love rains and playing barefoot in the mud. Ofcourse the narrator must be going to somewhere important and needs to stay clean. I cant help but feel that it is an allegory about wading through corruption. The part where the slipper was getting pulled to the limit is my favorite. I love the description of the scene, the activities and people around. Made me nostalgic. 🙂

    1. Jofelyn, it is such a nice feeling to read a detailed comment as the one you have so kindly taken time out to write for this post. Thanks and I am glad you enjoyed it!
      Only after you mention that I get to see this post as a possible comment on the corruption bit- which is quite interesting. In fact, what I had in mind while writing this was coming face to face with a moment from the past when one is left absolutely bereft of support and that feeling of being all alone and pathetic. Can’t help pasting these lines from Meryl Streep starrer “Doubt” here: ‘How much worse is it then? For the lone man, the lone woman striken by a private calamity? “No one knows I’m sick. No one knows I’ve lost my last real friend. No one knows I’ve done something wrong. Imagine the isolation. Now you see the world as through a window. On one side of the glass, happy untroubled people, on the other side, YOU!”‘

      1. The feeling of helplessness and desolation were conveyed very well in this well written piece, I don’t know why I immediately assume that corruption is the cause of the state the narrator (or you )have fallen into. Must be because you are struggling against mud, muck which is often associated with corruption. love that film btw.

  3. The lost times of childhood,the moments that we cherish in our heart come true on picture and in words through your sensitive post.One can feel the real feel of the scent of the real India and the place where we once belonged …The path that you are stick in the middle,sometimes implies of the choice sthat you have made in your life leaving the simpler most acceptable ones,to venture out into something not so common.The sudden deflection of thoughts reflect the nature of the thought process going on then..lastly the song is an alltime favourite…
    After reading this I have something to say…

    Walking past the muddiest lanes,
    journey to the distant place,
    I made with my confidence and strength,
    enjoying my way with pleasures of nature,
    I didn’t miss the worldly fun…
    For I knew I shall have them all,
    loveliest than the rest ,
    enthralling will be my destination..
    once I reach there with full determination…

    1. your detailed thoughts on the post are very heartily welcome. they add a lot of meaning to whatever I had in mind while writing this!

      And the words you have specially penned as a response to this write up are excellent rewards for the words of the aspiring writer that I think I am! Thank You So Much!!

  4. This was, by far, my favourite post of yours — it’s so clear that you were re-imagining it all in your head as you wrote it and I love how the finer details have made their way in to the post. Wonderful — you made me miss India!

  5. If you hadn’t taken/chosen the shortcut you would have never experienced what you have written here. So, I believe, that was the right decision you made for you have learnt something new which you have so generously shared with us, and I liked experiencing everything as you have described, imagining while sitting in front of my computer, closing my eyes for a while then back to your description, then again closing my eyes.

    But I hope, after getting back home you have taken a proper shower and washed away all the dirt and mud that may have spattered over your cloths and body, didn’t you?

    1. haha…I must have RD! I am happy to hear that you took that time out and reflected on what I wrote. Yeah you are right…every decision ‘not taken’ in life still remains a ‘decision taken’!

      Have a very nice day!

  6. One could actually visualise the fields, the wet earth, the bunds of grassy mud separating the plots , you slipping , slippers getting stuck ..all of it. Durin our schooldays, we had to cross a maidan after getting down from the bus , to reach the school. On one side of this maidan , was the sea and during the monsoons, the wind would blown across , ripping off our umbrellas from our hands, drenching us through. We’d run after it merrily, slipping, our sandles getting stuck in the mud, sometimes get damaged as we pulled it out. But guess what…we thoroughly enjoyed it, even when we developed a cold and fever afterwards. This post brought back all those memories. Thanks:-)

    1. I have at times only imagined of the ‘meanings’ of being a child for people living in ‘coastal’ areas! Read Hemingway only to quench some of those queries. Your comment gives me a wonderful, little insight. A small request…do pen of those days in a poem on dreamingthrutwilight!

      Thanks in anticipation!

  7. A lovely childhood memory so well written. I can see and feel the mud – feel the worry about the not so clean trousers any more. This post is full of texture, smell and other sensory feelings.

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