The feeling of nostalgia gives me goosebumps, sometimes quite strong ones actually. Now lots of different stimulations trigger goosebumps in different people but more on that in a different post, my research on that is still on. However, this post is about nostalgia. To put it in four simple words, sentimentality about the past. It’s usually related to a happy memory, the feeling associated to the phrase “good ol’ days!” Two days back I went to an annual sports and cultural day as organised by Amader Arpan (it’s an organisation I am part of) for the children in Bamanpukur (a small village in west Bengal). The first event in this two day affair was the sit and draw competition. Just when I reached the place I saw these tiny little kids sitting on huge spread out mats in a random scattered formation with rectangle pieces of drawing paper in front of them and concentrating in drawing their hearts out like we do in our serious college exams. The feeling of nostalgia literally gushed through me. To look at those triangle brown coloured mountains , blue curvy rivers, green cloud shaped trees and the orange circle sun with orange thin sticks coming out like spokes in a cycle wheel, all the sit and draw competitions I had participated as child flashed through my memory. So many different incidents came back to me all at once. At one competition I had cried my lungs out because I had torn my art sheet due to excess use of the eraser. At another one I had found my childhood best friend sitting next to me who I never thought I would meet again and it seemed almost like a miracle to me. At yet another one I remember I saw my mother smiling at me encouragingly across the field and I went back to give my all into the painting. That was one of the few where I managed to get into the top ten at least. I had participated in innumerable ones and never won. There were always better art pieces than mine but I loved participating anyway. I loved the strong smell of the pastel crayons that filled the air. The way we would steal glances at other drawings. The rush I would feel when the allotted time would be almost towards the end, ticking away and I would still may be have the whole sky left to colour. The thrill I would feel right before the results would be declared and the consoling yet happy smile from my mom, when I would not even be top ten.
I was so full of nostalgia right at that moment. The rest of the day that followed was like a trip down the memory lane for me. The poem recitation competition followed next and it reminded me of the innumerable times I have forgotten a poem after I started reciting it on the stage in front of a big audience. The quiz competition followed next and brought along with it the memory of how the audience once erupted in laughter when I had identified blocks of gouda cheese as drums (yeah right, the percussion instrument!).
However the difference between a 10 year old and a 24 year old is that, the 10 year old becomes sad or happy once the results of the art competition is out, she gets cold sweat on her forehead when she forgets the lines to her poem and wants to get up and run away from the stage when she gives the stupidest answer to a question in an auditorium full of children from 7 other schools from the state. While the 24 year old, she goes up to the children who did not make top ten and tells them she liked their drawings the best, she walks to the child who forgot the lines, hugs her and tells her that if she had not forgotten she would have won it as memory is not what defines recitation and she walks to the girl who could not recognise Vijay Mallya and tells her that in 10 years down the line she would be doing the same thing that the 24 year old was doing right then, and it would make her feel fulfilled and satisfied.
Strange thing time is, even stranger is the human brain. The brain has all these memories stored from the last fourteen years and just a trigger is enough to remind you of so many little pictures you would think you never even had them stored. It makes you feel two drastic things at the same microsecond. One part of your brain thinks it has been 14 years since all that happened, more than a decade has passed, and you are supposed to be all grown up now! On the other hand, another part of your brain thinks, it was just yesterday!