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November 01, 2012

Bringing Freud and Floyd in the same place

Earlier, only my mom and brother were privy to my histrionics. Years later, A joined the club. As a child, I managed to give my mom a hard time, especially with eating, as my mom recalls. In order to put a morsel or two into my mouth, she had to tell and recount numerous stories: from mythology, freedom struggle, anecdotes from her life and the ones around her family and any famous, er, great person she had read or heard about (Though not explicitly told, my bro and I soon picked up the difference between the famous and the great). I was fed with food and stories. My meals could not start without a 'kahani'. Growing up, I always had a 'kahani ka kitaab' alongside my food plate. My mom would call it the most important 'sabzi' of my meal.

While my mom's efforts had nurtured a curious soul and, of course, a reader, the world outside home made me realize my childhood was different. Not privileged, not deprived, but different. The difference caught up with me during discussions with classmates and friends, now colleagues. My Maupassant felt out of place in an animated conversation on Asterix so did my Mehdi Hassan when a conversation steered to 'to be' or 'not to be' a Pink Floyd fan. I had started developing a complex.

With Ma, Baba and Bro in Orissa
I had never read a 'novel' until I was 22; I had never heard about Mills & Boons till then: my dad's collection had only classics - books that could not just be labelled 'novels'. When I was reading these, I did not discuss these with anybody but my dad. Curious as I was, I read Freud's interpretation of dreams when I was still in school. At the same time, I read volumes of Swami Vivekananda and fell in love with him. My dad was a great storyteller; my mom, on the other hand, was the sutradhar, the narrator. My dad's stories had that charisma that would hook me and everyone in the vicinity for hours. Mom used to say he sprinkled a little something on his stories to make them more palatable; I found them delicious. And I licked every bit of the palate. I remember, once, still young and naive, I wondered how his stories would enthrall my betrothed whenever that happened. Sadly, A never got to chat with him. I learnt about politics, religion and even, love from my dad. My mom, on the other hand, handed down pre-independence stories, unintentionally taught me to question the norms, discussed mythology and its flaws. 

Coming back to my complex, I soon started picking things: most of the time, seemingly insignificant stuff, rarely something gigantic. Only with time did I learn that it was those tiny things that I picked along my way that opened up my eyes to bigger and wider horizons.

Like everyone, I don't know much. And I know things different from most of my acquaintances and friends. However, now, I don't feel out of place; I seek to learn from them something I didn't know before. And as I do that, I leave a bit of me with them. 


Unknown said...

I grew up shy and reserved and I still am to this day (at least to the ones I am not close to) and it lead me to grow up in my own little world with stories and anecdotes shared by my parents and grandparents.. Your post kind of took me back to those days!

Similar to the disclaimer at the end of movies based on true stories, Dad's tales, came with characters and events which were dramatised for the beauty of story telling. If mom was around, she'd rebuke him and go on to 'correct' the stories.

I used to feel out of place, like I was born too late and everyone around me were miles ahead of me, in their choices and lifestyle. It was like when I'd come up with a question during a chat which would make everyone laugh at my ignorance. And then there were times too when I'd feel I was way ahead when it came to understanding relations and why we behave the way we do sometimes.

Acceptance was the key. Knowing and accepting that we are different and understanding this difference led to developing few but strong friendships along the way.

You grew up with Maupassant, and I feel a bit embarrassed to admit that I heard about him for the first time just last week from a colleague in office and read the short story Julie Romaine. I loved it. Now I have a short story collection which I will start reading this weekend. And I thought I knew a lot about books and authors!!

Well, I guess learning never really stops.. and the most unexpected people and things can teach us a great deal!

Sai said...

I have a similar history with books. I was well versed with all the classics, but was sadly deficient abour 'popular fictin'.
So when most of my friends talked about Jeffrey Archer and John Grisham, I didnt have much to say :) Got introduced to these much later in life.
The strange thing is now I would love to read the classics with as much passion these days..and now I find that so tough to read...

Anonymous said...

Your words take the reader into your world, the feel, the smell, the lights and the shadows. That is not something everyone gets to do.

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