Cradle of Life

Continued from “Pains of Regret”

“While I was still in the cradle life had signaled that it wouldn’t be a case of the run-of- the-mill for me,” he began delving into his extraordinary life. “You know that kids don’t mind the change of guard at their cradle as long as it was kept rocking. But I was insistent that the one who began should hold on to it till I slept off. I was not even two then and I’ve a vague memory of it. That’s not all, in those days, women invariably used to wear silk saris while performing their daily puja only to change into cotton saris after it was over, and were I to be hungry during her puja time, I was insistent that she breastfed me in her auspicious attire without changing into her mundane dress, well I’ve my mother’s word for that. The first time my parents took me to the movies is so vivid in my memory. As I was drawn to the heroine, holding sleep at bay, I glued my eyes on her whenever she appeared in a scene. When she failed to grace the silver screen for long to engage my eyes, I sank into my mother’s lap that was after instructing her to wake me up as and when she reappeared. Well, my mother ignored my diktat, and when I woke up on my own, I saw her on the screen. What a fuss I made that my mother let me miss her earlier appearances! All my mom’s assurances that the heroine had reappeared only then and that she was about to wake me up didn’t cut ice with me. I was not even five then.”

“How remarkable it was all that is apart from your photographic memory!”

“Without a solid memory to back it, wherefrom would a sound memoir emerge?” he said with a glint in his eyes. “Maybe we tend to have a grasp of the sensuality of the opposite sex well before we develop a sense of our own sexuality, and it was a teenage girl’s enamored look that ushered me into the turbulence of adolescence. That day, as I was crossing a house in a side-road, it is still vivid in my eyes, as though on cue I turned my head, (he had turned his head sideways as if he was reliving that moment) and found a teenaged beauty with her eyes lost for me. Oh as the fuse of her look lighted the bulb of my sexuality, the sensations I had experienced then are beyond my ability to picture in words for you. Though the nascent beats of my infatuated heart made me loiter around her place ever after, I could not see her again. But the memory of the manifestations of the sexual attraction I induced in her never waned, and so, I came to regard that house as a shrine of my life. Maybe, she was a visitor at the house who came just to wake me up sexually and not destined to fulfill my life in her possession. Whatever it was, are not small pleasures the lasting ecstasies of life?”

“I’m getting a feeling that your life may not be just sound and fury and certainly not a twice told tale.”

“Coming to storytelling,” he said, “there is none to better my grandmother at that. It’s true, all grannies of yore were storytellers of note, and what cradles of tales they made to stir the curiosity in children! But now, which child has a grandma for company and which mother is fit to play that role when it’s her turn? Whenever, I said that she was repeating herself, my grandma used to challenge me to recap it; that I remember every tale she told me has as much to do with her narrative ability as my uncanny memory. You know, I didn’t read any of our epics in the later days, and yet, I’m a sort of mini authority on those. But the icing on my childhood cake was the absence of school regimen till I was nine. You can gauge my fortune if only you contrast with the kids these days who are bundled out to nursery schools with donkey loads of books that they could hardly grasp. How sad, times have robbed childhood from kids in other ways too.”

“Oh, how I wish I grew up in your times,” I said. “Though I’m half your age, still I didn’t have a quarter of your leeway when it came to going to school. I was packed off to a nursery school before I could unzip my knickers. Maybe, the rural-urban divide persists in some ways even these days.”

“How mirthful that childhood period was though we didn’t have a tenth of the exposure the kids these days have to the ways of world,” he said with a glow on his face. “But it was different with girls even in our days, why they tend to get exposed to their sexuality well before boys can grasp a thing about their thing. Wonder how they used to conceive those man-wife and doctor-patient games. Once, when a girl had chosen me as her doctor, and as others wrapped us up in a makeshift tent, she exposed her private parts for my physical examination and it was then that I realized that she was made differently over there. Thanks to the movies and the media, now all know all there is to know about sex, but it was only when I was fifteen or so that I got an idea of it from a married woman. Later with her sister, I had a mini affair; oh how we were always at necking and petting though I didn’t press further for fear of making her pregnant. Whoever knew about condom those days and by the time I came to know of it, my rival for her affection had penetrated into her life without it. Sadly for me, ignorance was no bliss for once.’

“Won’t lost opportunities leave haunting memories?”

“But don’t they last ever longer to our hurt,” he said with apparent disappointment. “Maybe it’s my software of love that could have activated her sexual passions to seek the hardcore gratification with my rival. Or who knows, she might’ve been a flirt to start with, but for me the fact of inactivity was a lost opportunity; well, the ethos of the times and the sensitivity of my soul together contrived to handicap my youth for I won the hearts of women and yet I failed to gain their final favor. Whatever, how frustrating it was failing to have all those fair things that fancied me. But in these sexy times served by pills, isn’t it fun all around what with girls willing to open up other ways too for detours. Who had heard of anal sex those days, and if only I had a scent of it, my story of youth would have been composed in stanzas of fulfillment. Well, I could never cease mulling over those missed chances; especially the loss of her favor even though in the later years I had more than made up for all those misses. Why each woman is unique by herself and every encounter is apart in itself.”

“That way, youngsters these days have plenty of ways for their sexual fun. But on the flip side, the premarital sex deprives lovers the joy that is the longing of love.”

“But then, you can’t have the cake and eat it too,” he said. “Whatever every fool of an ass has a girlfriend these days while in our time even the smartest had to rest content with the yearning looks of the enamored dames. Why it’s the longing for love that shapes the nature of one’s love life and in adulthood it’s the childhood anecdotes that serve as antidotes to its vagaries. But the beauty of childhood has an ugly facet to it. How many lament that they were not of the Birla household as their later-day Amabani-like riches fail to offset their sense of childhood deprivation! Let us put it differently, being a Rockefeller is not good enough if you are not a Rockefeller’s son as well. It was as if my miserly grandfather chose thrift to catapult my father into the zone, but that didn’t help my father’s vision to expand the fifteen-acre family holding to make the grade. In a way, my grandfather was a colorless man and none seemed to have missed him in his life or death, not even my grandmother. Being a miser to the core, he was not even superficially warm.”

“I for one believe that of all the infirmities of man, miserliness is the most debilitating,” I said. “Why, don’t we have the true life story of the miserly millionaire woman that made it to the Guinness Book of World Records? You might know that she was in search of a public hospital that too in the U.S to cure her son’s aliment in a leg, which sadly for him, led to the amputation of his limb. Oh, what would have been his feelings when in the end; her millions fell into half-a-lap of his? That’s why I find the regulations of the state like banning smoking for the so-called public good so meaningless.”

“The prohibition and other such symbolize the personal proclivities or much worse the political agendas of the powers that be and no more,” he said. “Coming back to my miserly grandfather, he bestowed all his affection upon me and used to maintain that he would bequeath that landholding to me and not to my father. While my father’s prudent spending was an anathema to him, I didn’t show any inclination to spend a farthing then. I was just a kid anyway, and I found nothing around that induced want in me. But as I grew up, I had realized that there was sex for sale but by then my grandfather was dead and gone. Even then, an inexplicable sentiment delayed my tryst with the sex workers for that long; what layers within the layers and circles within the circles that make life, so seemingly seamless from birth to death? Won’t that make life intriguing to live, engaging to observe and exciting to recall? Looks like I won’t be able to make it linear for you.”

“I think it is as it should be for life tends to stray laterally on its linear course.”

“Well you seem to have a way with words,” he said sounding appreciative, “and that would come in handy in your endeavor to be a writer”.

Continued to “Outlook for Re-look”


More by :  BS Murthy

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