April 23, 2020

Writing in the times of lockdown - 1

I have been having a lot of back-to-college dreams where I am happily walking through the paths of NID. I still long for the lush greenery, open spaces and large campus in my non-lockdown life, especially being in crowded Bombay. And somewhere in my dreams, to break away from this claustrophobic existence, I crawl back into those memories of the past and walk through the beautiful expanse of the campus.

But I think this doesn't stop with dreams. In my waking life, I retreat to known flavours of childhood in my cooking. Pavakka pitla, vengaya sambar, malabar parotta-kurma resurface. And the smells have a calming effect on me, reassuring me with the memories of carefree times.

And when I cook, I keep listening to mostly Ilayaraja (and sometimes, A.R. Rahman) on repeat. Music has been a huge part of my childhood. I grew up with the sounds of Indian music – predominantly listening to Tamil film and learning carnatic music. However, in recent years, I have been so busy that any music is heard in the passing or only on an occasional rainy evening. Now that time and thoughts are at my disposal, I yearn for the familiar sounds of childhood.

Is my soul crawling back to the familiar sounds, flavours and spaces that feel like a cocoon? I think so! This is my defence mechanism against the strangeness of the now. If you are experiencing a sudden pang for the sights, sounds and smells of the past, don't fight it. This is the time to just be and go with the flow.

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© Dryad's Peak
Maira Gall