Sitting here after a score of years, on the terrace of my current house, trying to gather the courage to take on tomorrow, I remembered suddenly, something.
A picnic we had had on the roof as children. It was our ancestral house. Not much of it remains now. But back then, it had quite a glory. It was summer night. Moonlight had spread across the roof from corner to corner. Half of it was covered by a champak tree. The other half was lined with summer flowers, rosemallows and lilies and jasmine. Fragrance from a distant rangoon creeper filled the cool air.
Summer days back then weren't as tough as they are now. Nevertheless they were tough. Being at home for long vacations, on hot mattresses with ceiling fans not doing their jobs enough was difficult for a gang of cousins. So when afternoon came nothing could stop us.
That week in the vacation was different though and we had to be on our best behavior. Because some more cousins from the city were going to spend time in the country with us. Fish in the pond, bathe in the river, pluck flowers in the morning, things like that. I was afraid we wouldn't get along well. I was the eldest amongst the ones at home. The visiting ones were all older than me.
First cousins, second cousins, half cousins, step cousins, if you know what I mean. Hands of friendship and bonhomie had to be extended from both sides by multiple set of parents. We all ate lunches and dinners sitting on the courtyard floor, as if it was a daily feast or something. At nights, we washed the roof and slept under the stars listening to some cousin or the other reciting a story about ghosts or theives. On one such night, someone suggested we have a feast the next day.
Since it would be cumbersome to clean a patch in the jungle nearby and dig a hearth there, and risky too because of a wild animal or two, we decided to have it on the roof. Someone from the kitchen below lent us a kerosene stove and someone fixed a light bulb on the TV antenna because moonlight would clearly not be enough for cooking.
There were almost a dozen of us washing and chopping and a few of us cooking. After a long wait, the tangy chickpea curry fashioned as a chaat and the omelettes were ready and we were served on steel plates and not on banana leaves for a change. We scattered all over the roof to our favorite places and chomped off the meal feeling extremely content.
After that I never met any of those cousins. Funny, how fast we grow up. Ridiculous, how fast time passes and yet how excruciatingly slow it mostly feels. But the craziest of all things is how these memories resurface mostly in the nick of time to give you the random courage to face. You know. Tomorrow.