Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Day I First Fell in Love.......


Just a few days back, on a bright sunny day I walked to the ATM at the Community Centre market to draw out cash…a man’s biggest necessity to live in this world. Was in for a rude shock to find out that India’s largest public sector bank had gone into an indefinite strike….and the silent witness to the numerous disappointed faces of the customers were the ATM Dispensers with ‘empty tummies.’ As I walked back my mind was clouded with the apprehension of how to make both ends meet with the sole tattered 100Rs note in my wallet. Just to divert my mind from such serious and uneasy thoughts, I bent down at the roadside book vendor to muddle into his collections. Seeing my familiar face (and knowing by now how bad I am at bargaining), he flashed a bright smile. Soon I found myself holding a small black leather book with printed golden letters on it titled ‘LITTLE SONGS by MRS. FOLLEN’. It contained a collection of Nursery rhymes beautifully written and illustrated by a lady called Eliza Lee Follen in 1832…(174 human years back, Phew!!!)My heart missed a beat ….when I saw the Rhyme on Page no 6… the wordings were so familiar ….indeed it was the same rhyme I was taught on that fateful day…the day when I first fell in love…
Memories flooded back to one of the many days I had spend at “Sunbeams”, a day crèche near to my home…a quaint old building with a nice little verandah running all around and its tiled sloping roof covered with creepers full of flowers…red, orange, pink…. On this day, we were taught a new nursery rhyme …..a rhyme which I treasure in the depths of my heart till date….
Butterflies are pretty things,
Prettier than you or I;
See the colors on his wings;
Who would hurt a butterfly?
Not to hurt a living thing,
Let all little children try;
See, again he's on the wing;
Good bye! pretty butterfly!

I still remember Teresa maam taking us out to the garden and showing us the butterflies…there were so many of them that day…or probably they were always there…I noticed them for the first time then. And it was that rosy day which made me fall into a ‘love trap’ for life…indeed I fell in love with those colorful creatures which flutter by.
My sketchbooks were filled with heavily ‘crayoned’ disproportionate “frontal elevations” of butterflies…..the spindle shaped body in black…those four/two wings (the no of wings depended on how large the available drawing area was..) with a mélange of colors splashed on them and of course the 2 antennae springing out of the head like claws.


It was hard to believe when dad told me that butterflies are “cousins” of cockroaches and mosquitoes…. I agreed but was baffled at that very thought…..how can they all belong to the same “family”…..those dirty looking cockroaches and ever-hurting mosquitoes and my sweet little ‘flutter-byes’….
Got my answer, years later in one of the Zoology lectures delivered by a bald kinky Zoology professor on the world’s largest Phylum….Phylum Arthropoda…. Don’t even want to remember those names and diagrams…
Even today sometimes I rummage through my old books stacked neatly in my room. Those carefully drawn and meticulously detailed Butterfly drawings (under the heading of Order-Lepidoptera) in my Class 12 Zoology Lab Record Book, lack the real beauty and life of those roughly colored crayon drawings…Indeed those disproportionate, ‘never-symmetrical’, patches of crayons meant a lot more to me than these tediously detailed out diagrams where the labeling (with ‘Latin-turned-English’ terms) screams out for attention. But those blotches of colors did not make sense to the grown ups and hence were never preserved…may be some unsuspecting moongphali-wala would have happily earned his Rs 2 by wrapping a handful of groundnuts in the paper cones of those masterpieces…
I logged out from my Dream world to find the smiling vendor eagerly waiting to slaughter his bakraa…”Kyon Saab….. Lena hai kya? Sirf Assi Rupaiye…” (Do u want to buy it? Only Eighty Rs…). My extremely uncommon “common sense” jumped up and warned me to keep it down and walk away…Again serious and uneasy thoughts of realities started lurking their ugly heads in my mind…..eventually I left the book on the pile and walked away with a heavy heart.
And from behind Mr. Bright Smile was constantly calling out to me “….Saabji, Pachhas de do…Sirf Pachhas….” (Give me just fifty Rs). I hastened my pace pretending not to hear him…. and walked away….. past a Moongphali wala tossing a handful of groundnuts into a paper cover.


9 comments:

sonal said...

i want to buy u that book now. love the flutter by and butter fly.. and i remember being small and scared to catching and murdering the powdery things..love the post boy

Sorabh Raina said...

beautifulllllllllllllllllll

amazingly written

and for the others viewers information

sandeep has cut short the long write up
i want to read the full thing sandy

Shubham said...

A very well written piece Mr. urban ecologist...really amazing how well u have described these small yet so significant pleasures of life....

anamika said...

very nice sandeep....i really think you could put all your musings and writings into a book, perfect short story material

Sandeep Menon said...

Thanks everyone for the sweet words....

well sonal, am sure some nice lady wud hav got the book after a good bargainin session for her little one by now...

And of course Sorabh i hav the unabridged version saved in my comp....

Nice blog Shubham...really liked the name.

Hey anamika...that is a great idea....may be someday all of us'll have a book each...

suhail arif said...

well written sandy

Devesh said...

Utterly...butterly...beautifully written!!!

praseo said...

That was too gr8 a writing . and also you have got good memory man..
I must say , even I forgot SunBeams and my old teachers .. ( shame on me... )
lol!!

keep the neat work going on man...

shades of twilight said...

Wow sandeep.. that was a lovely piece of writing...