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Stars in the eyes – A Secret Cache of Memories

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The mellifluous voice of Mohd Rafi rings through my room as I lounge on the chair. I am absent-mindedly browsing sites on my phone, not really paying attention to where the clicks are leading.

“Jawaniyan yeh mast mast …”

There, unbidden, rises the tussle between my ears and my eyes for attention: my ears awash with the voice of my favourite singer of all and my eyes drawn to the face lip synching those words on the little screen of my phone. The years fall away and for a brief, ecstatic moment my heart skips the same beat in the same way as it would almost four decades ago every time that face floated in my mind’s eye (not to mention the television screen.)

My heart is beating!

Four decades! There must have been some pulse-racing moments in these decades, but on this evening the clock has rewound to college days when I was an out and out star-struck adolescent. I could have been sitting, studying for the term exam, with Vividh Bharti belting out songs, flinging my pen and papers aside as a certain actor’s song came on air – as the stars in my eyes blinded me to all else (exam too!)  Those three minutes – and others like them – were enough to transport me out of the mundane.  And those are minutes I think everyone should have in life. The minutes that spell L-I-F-E-I-S-G-O-O-D. The nicest thing about them is that they are not permanent: they remind one of Frost’s nostalgia for swinging in Birches – ‘That would be good both going and coming back.’  Swinging between the real life one leads and the respite into sublimity, just enough to fill you with joy and fresh bursts of energy, before you return to the normal. Caught up in the swirls of life, going through the stages of acquiring, building and managing home and career, nurturing and then pushing the fledglings off the nest, you neglect this swinging, which becomes a forgotten pleasure. Until serendipity brings you back to it.

We had seasons in the sun!

The sheer simplicity of the emotion is enviable. The feeling is of the time of exuberant, forward-looking youth. Joys are unpretentious, attraction is heartfelt. Knowing somewhere within that your heart beats for the unattainable permits you to enjoy the attraction with no strings attached: the pulse races just enough to shoot out happiness-inducing sensations to your brain.  You learn to note aesthetics: the degrees of expressions, the nuances of words, the lilt of tunes. In the heydays of hero-worship, you’ll probably delve in no small measure into vocabulary of lyrics and a range of observations from body language to the history of cinema. And four decades ago, the media was nowhere as pervasive as it is now, so nuggets, songs, glimpses had a value that seems to be lost now in all the over-exposure.

Endearing memoirs

Your children may view you as a forgetful, numerically challenged going-grey adult. Their favourite fairy tale will probably be your truth that you were a walking encyclopaedia on a certain actor’s career graph: years of release of films, co-stars, directors, music directors, songs – anyone could throw anything at you but your mind was always nimble and infallible. What a training ground for a razor-sharp memory! True, now those facts have faded away. True, over the years your tastes have broadened to include other genres and pursuits. But is it a surprise that when a song not heard for years plays you can sing along word for word? That even if your eyes stray from the flickering phone screen, the clip plays in your mind?

You can now snap your fingers at your folks who have needled you because they have to repeatedly tell you whose faces are on those latest Netflix productions or when you watch 60 per cent of a film and then realise why everything is so familiar (because you have watched the film before – but you still neither remember nor care who rides off into the sunset and who bites the dust.)

In the phase of life when more adult concerns were slowly taking over my life, there were still the odd moments when I would wistfully leaf through a dog-eared scrap book painstakingly pasted over years. I’d look at my sleeping baby and wonder if she would also one day have a scrap book like that. I’d want her to – to have the innocent wonder of anticipating, enjoying, observing. A harmless but joyful excitement, the most significant legacy of which is a treasure trove of only happy – even silly – memories. It’s your own secret cache of memories, which few would understand – except perhaps the dear friend or family member who has lived them with you. And it’s these memories that play before me, as fresh as on the day they were made: the regular evening walks with dogs that somehow found a route that included a certain apartment building, the providential shower of rain that had us dash into that very building for shelter, the wait for Doordarshan to telecast something – anything –  I wanted, the negotiation and bargains struck with a sibling to permit three hours of undisturbed VHS viewing when the local library had just the cassette finally available to lend, the speechless yelp that startled every passenger on the top deck of a BEST bus heading to college when THE car slid right next to the bus at a traffic junction, the bucket list of locations to visit compiled from a viewing of films … the memories are endless. Longer than the smile on my face as this time my finger stabs deliberately at certain song and film titles and the stars in my eyes gleam a ‘Thank you, Mr Shammi Kapoor. Thank you for some of the most uncomplicated Life-is-Good moments of my life…’

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