Back when I was studying in HCU, I used to call up home every Sunday morning at around 10:30-11:00. I used to call up to listen to ‘Sunday morning sounds’. The radio playing at full volume, Amma exasperatedly telling Acha to turn it down, the mixer running in the kitchen, whistle of the pressure cooker, voices of neighbours who had dropped in for a casual chat. If I listened very very carefully, I could even hear the pages of the newspaper rustling as Acha pored over every word, sitting in the cane chair in the balcony with his second cup of tea (well, not really, but you know what I mean).
What is so unusual about these sounds, you ask? Nothing, really. But as a girl who was staying away from home for the first time, these were sounds of comfort. Sounds of familiarity. Sounds that I had grown up hearing, but never really listened to. I would have just finished eating yet another crappy MESS breakfast of alu-paratha (which was like the Bermuda Triangle for potatoes. They always went missing) and tea that never tasted like tea, but was at least edible. I never regretted leaving home. In fact, I was one of the few girls who didn’t even cry when our parents were leaving after settling us down in the hostel. I was excited. I was scared, of course, but I was excited too. I was about to embark upon an adventure, the very first REAL adventure of my life. Away from the sheltered life that I had grown accustomed to. Away from the city that knew me so well. No more hot home-made food waiting when I get back from classes famished. No more clean clothes that get magically washed and dried and ironed without me having to do anything at all. No more maid to clean the room for me. No more of knowing that no matter how late I get, Acha would come and pick me up. The Sunday morning calls were the one thing that I held on to. They helped me get through the rest of the week. Because I knew that no matter what changed, no matter what disaster had happened during the week, Sunday morning would bring back to me the familiar, and would restore faith in me that all is right with the world. Every time the pressure of assignments and studies got to me, and I wanted to just chuck everything and go back home, the Sunday morning sounds were my strength. They were like my ticket to sanity.
But gradually, the Sunday morning sound calls waned. I stopped calling home to hear them. The regular calls happened, of course. But not the Sunday morning ones. Or rather, it stopped mattering to me. Even if Amma did call me on Sunday mornings, which she almost always does, I never bothered to listen to them. I never paid attention to them. Why is that? Was it because I had grown up and grown out of it? Did I not need my Sunday morning sounds anymore? Did I not need that comfort and familiarity anymore? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because once I moved out of the hostel and started living on my own, I got so wrapped up in ‘being independent’ and ‘fending for myself’, that I didn’t feel the need to hear the familiar sounds. It was not a conscious decision. It’s something that happened without me even realising it had.
I didn’t realise this had happened, until last a few days back, when, the whistle of a pressure cooker from a neighbouring apartment triggered off the memory in my mind. The memory of Sunday morning sounds. And just like that, a hand clenched around my heart. I had this sudden urge to call up Amma and tell her “I called up to hear the Sunday morning sounds, Amma”. But I didn’t. It wasn’t a Sunday, of course. You can’t hear Sunday morning sound s on a Tuesday morning, can you, silly? So I waited.
And this morning, I called up home. And there they were. The radio playing in the background. Pressure cooker whistle. Acha talking to someone. Amma saying that a neighbour had dropped in for a chat.
And all is right with the world again. J
Do you have any such ritual, anything that you do just to reassure yourself that some things never change? Come on, there’s gotta be something.
P.S1: Happy New Year, folks! Have a great one.
P.S2: I was in a mood to ramble today. To be honest, this post reflects my earliest kind of writing, when I used to write just for the heck of writing, not to be read. I wonder why I'm not able to write like that anymore. I hope I didn't bore you.
P.S3: P.S's can be annoying no?