My magical time travel machine
Memories are strange things. They pop up when you least expect them. Take today morning, for example. We were happily yapping away on our WhatsApp group, comprising cousins and aunts, when my brother posted an old picture of us playing cards. It immediately opened a floodgate of memories and emotions and my mom found herself in tears.
“You have all grown up so fast,” she sobbed over the phone. “How I wish I could go back to those days.”
I wished the same, too. If only I had a magical time travel machine.
I was shaken out of my reverie as a little hand tugged at my dress.
“Mamma, story please.”
A pair of liquid brown eyes looked up at me, pointing at my laptop. I sighed as I switched on the computer – oh the travails of a modern mother. I had grown up reading fairy tales and other stories the conventional way, but now it is the computer that my son recognizes as a story book.
As I browsed through the stories on youtube, the little guy pointed at a thumbnail excitedly.
“Mamma, pigs, pigs!”
I played the story and watched him as he sat engrossed in front of the computer.
The three little pigs…
My first foreign story book. It was one of a bunch of books that my father had got from London in the early 80s. He was staying in a guest house there when one day he happened to have a chat with the lady who cleaned his rooms. She found Deta’s life in Assam enchanting and asked him about his family. When Deta told her that he had two daughters she was thrilled for she had two of her own, too. They were all grown up and had left the house though. She pestered Deta about what we liked and when he said that the older one (that’s me) loved books, she said she will get some. The next morning she turned up with a stack of story books. They had belonged to her elder daughter when she was a kid.
My father was more surprised than glad.
“But these are your first born’s. You have been saving them up for so long. Please keep them for your grandchildren,” he told her.
But the lady just smiled benignly and handed them over to him.
“Your daughter will love them, I know. I am glad that the books are going to her,” she said. “Please take them, don’t say no.”
I did love them. And I love them still. For I still have the books with me. I just wish that I could let her know that I took good care of them. That they have survived for 30-odd years.
My son reminded me. The three little pigs’ story had got over while I was lost in my own childhood.
I looked at the computer screen and saw that he meant the story of little red riding hood. I had been telling him the story at bedtime and somehow he recognized it from the thumbnails.
I played little red riding hood and let another set of memory rush over me.
I saw the same horror filled excitement in my son’s eyes when that part came in the video. He gave out a little squeal when the big bad wolf of my childhood spoke the very same lines.
And I realized then that I had my time travel machine. Here, with me, in my son, in his childhood. I could be a child again through these stories, re-living my memories along with him.
I only wish I could somehow locate and thank the kind lady in London who had gifted me her daughter’s precious books decades ago, and my teacher who had taught me the importance of imagination. My childhood would not have been the same without their contribution.
Never mind, it is now bedtime and my time travel machine waits. See you soon!