Last night I dreamt of my kindergarten school. I saw I was walking down 8B more while I ran into this woman who knew me when I was 2, who taught me the difference between red and blue and between a circle and a square, among other things. “Mary Aunty” we used to call her. I saw Mary Aunty in my sleep-in a cotton sari and a big bindi, and she took me to my old school. I saw the dimly lit room which had colourful soft boards on all the walls. I saw the mounds of plasticine that were moulded into being pink elephants and green ducks. I walked around barefeet feeling the coldness of the ground where I learnt how to walk straight and I think I saw the green wooden merry-go-round too.
Having woken up from sleep, I called up my mother to ask her if the school still stands down that road in Jadavpur. She said it shut down a long time back.
It’s funny how we are growing old everyday, not by blowing off candles but by these little losses. The other day J.D. Salinger passed away and I felt I lost a big chunk of my growing up with him. I remembered my school leaving diary and what someone I totally love, had written. She wrote, “I always thought I was the catcher, not realizing that it was you who has been catching me all through.” Holden Caulfield has been a part of my growing up, he opened me up to a magic that only works once. With magic of this sort, the rabbit gets pulled out of the hat only once and you forever remember that ephemeral moment when the white gloved hand of the magician pulls a smiling rabbit out of his red ribbon lined black hat. You try and hold on to that moment of disbelief forever, because you know that, that is going to be the only time you will see anything of that sort ever happen.
“We are losing all our childhoods”, I said.
“It all has to go someday”, you replied.
I believe you. But I’m holding onto my moments of magic.