Yesterdays pretend to be sweet. One of the most popular poets of Kerala, ONV Kurup, composed an unforgettable song about the poet persona’s longing to return to the days of his childhood and wander once again in the courtyard where his memories roam, shake the fruit trees, draw water from the well and taste its pristine sweetness…
The past is supposed to be pristine and hence sweet. I have a huge collection of old Malayalam film songs in the pen drive that plays while I drive. Many people who have travelled with me have wondered whether I’m in love with the past. I am not. My past had nothing to make me feel nostalgic about it, let alone romantic. My childhood was a pain and youth was worse. There is nothing sweet or pristine about any of it. Absolutely nothing. My childhood reminds me of the canes wielded by my parents and teachers with Gradgrindian cold brutality. Those canes were replaced by repressive social games played by certain missionaries in my youth.
So why do the Malayalam film songs of 1970s enchant me? They have elegant lyrics, stirring melody, and soothing caresses, much unlike today’s songs which are all sound and fury. They transport me to a world which I would have loved to inhabit, a world that never belonged to me, a world that was snatched from me by many agents who all pretended to be my well-wishers.
Am I an escapist then? I am not. I don’t live in any fantasy world. I don’t lament about my losses. Nor do I run away from my present duties and inevitable pains. I only let the songs soothe my soul. Yesterday is not what is sweet for me but yesterday’s songs.
Even if yesterday was better than today, I wouldn’t have romanticised it as some of our politicians are doing. I don’t believe that Rama Rajya can be recreated now. Humanity has travelled far, too far, from Rama’s quiver, Lakshmana’s fealty, Hanuman’s obsequiousness, and Sita’s fire tests. There is no going back. We need to go forward. There is a whole cosmos with a hundred billion galaxies for us to explore. Why go back by a few thousand years?
I don’t think there is anything great about the old days, however good they may sound to be in our legends and myths. Life expectancy of the average Indian when the country became independent was merely 31 years. Earlier it would have been much worse. A lot of children died at birth or in the first few months. There was misery all around. Who wants to go back to those days?
We need to stop glorifying the past. We need to look at ways and means for creating a happy present here and now. We need to look ahead too.
PS. I am participating in the #BlogchatterA2Z
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