What one thinks is long forgotten, suddenly rushes in, without warning, without indication, without any premonition.
That is what I experienced today evening.
It was 5.30 in the evening; I was in the crowded Laxminarayan chowk. The road coming from Gultekadi area is bit narrow. I wanted to go towards Mitramandal area so at the signal I moved to the left of a water tanker. The indicator showed green and without having to take a moment’s stop at the signal I rushed forward.
For a second, I smelt diesel, must be coming from the tanker, I thought.
And suddenly it reminded of a small village. The village adults were excited because a new railway line was being installed in the village. There were suddenly too many new people in the village with hundreds of vehicles. The workers and their ‘sahib’ were staying in newly built homes called ‘quarters’. It was like a city. A city was shaping within a village.
We see small trucks. There is a miracle. With one single action the driver pushes the backward portion of the truck in such an angle that it drops the stones and the soil without any human intervention. When the material is completely dropped down, with a single action the driver brings the portion back to normal. It is a magic for us. However, we (the children) keep away from it. There is a fear: a fear of unknown, a fear of strangers, a fear that someone is destroying our world and a fear that everything is going to change suddenly. All of us are attracted towards that vehicle called ‘dumper’ but we keep away.
We children gather at the lake. We have a serious discussion at hand. Now to think of it, it was indeed a small lake, but for us then it was the world. “Now they are going to dump all that soil in this lake, what will happen to our fish?” one worries loudly. We look at the water. We look at the fish. They seem to be happy and careless as usual. “Hmm, they do not know what is coming to them,” adds another one very philosophically.
‘What is this railway like? And why are they bringing to us? Where will we all go?” is the third query. “And who is this Sarkar they are talking about all the time? When he comes to our village we will throw stones at him. Then he will have to run away with his railway,” fourth point of view is expressed.
“I don’t know why the elders are treating these people well. You see how much tea they drink, even there is a tea shop there,’ fifth mystery to be solved. “Let us run away from this village, my mama’s village has a lake, there are many fish and there is a school too. Let us go there,” that is the sixth option. Questions follow each other without any way out.
Someone laughs at us. We are frightened. We tightly catch each others’ hands.
The truck drivers have come for a stroll at the lake after long working hours. They are listening to our loud discussion and can’t help laughing at us.
“Do you want to drive a truck?’ one of them asks smilingly. Without knowing what it means, I say ‘yes’. My group looks at me as a traitor. But I do not want to miss the adventure. “Come all of you. Will teach you to drive the truck.” one more invitation and that is enough to tempt rest of them.
We rush towards the dumper. Now we are excited, we are shouting, laughing, and teasing each other. The five of us are in the dumper along with the driver. He pushes the key and suddenly there is an unknown smell, very strong and very peculiar.
That was the first time I smelt diesel.
When did it happen? In the antiquity, I guess. I was six or seven years then. I left the village at the age of ten and never went back there. I never remembered this incidence.
But today with that one second of diesel smell, everything came back to me in a crystal clear way. I could smell the dumper, I could smell the lake, and I could see the clear blue skyline disappearing behind the tress. I could hear the laughter of my friends; I could feel the fear of all of us. Though I do not have any contact with anyone of them, they are there with me. Not just the friends, but the place, the earth, the sky, the water, the ‘me’ of that time.
It is strange that there is such a strong connection within the subconscious.
Whether I am physically connected to a place or not does not matter because the subconscious connection exists. That is actually stronger than the physical connection.
Some day in future, my present will become my past. What I will remember then probably will be only such intense moments. If I live superficially today, I will have nothing to remember tomorrow. For making the future connection, I have to live passionately in the present.
The connection of how I live will remain forever for me!