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Revisiting a Childhood Reflection

It was on a family trip to Sikkim.

My parents spent their honeymoon in Gangtok, so it was only fair that I should see the place for myself. After all, I had been told that the reason I was not in any of their honeymoon pictures was that they had asked somebody to hold me while they got their photos taken.

Children and their need to be involved in everything that is an adult’s prerogative. Hardly two decades pass, and they want to return to their need for childlike ignorance.

As usual, I digress. But it is in these digressions that I address what attempts at articulation cannot capture.

On our way to Tsongmo Lake, or Changu Lake, in the shared Tata Sumo, the three of us sat in the middle, with the window seat given to me (perks of being an only child). Another family sat behind us, while we shared the middle and the front seat with three other people.

I remember this trip so well because of two things. One, my father cracked a silly joke at the expense of the family sharing their seats with us, and my laughter was almost bursting through my lips while my mother tried her best to shush me, trying her best not to let her laughter escape.

We are mostly nice people, but cracking odd jokes at odd hours is a family trait. Otherwise, our mental health would be visibly in shambles – that, too, again, runs in the family.

The second is a rather small incident. Small enough that one would easily let it slip past in these years.

The family behind us also had a daughter, maybe two? That detail I don’t remember very well. The daughter was much younger. I was easily twelve at that time. It was a cold December; most of our annual trips were reserved for the Christmas break, which was long enough for me to squeeze in some holiday homework after the trip.

On our way back from the lake, the car stopped for a while. There were shops nearby, and back then, momos were still an unfamiliar terrain that, as a family, we hadn’t explored yet.

On digging through my memory train, I can now recall it was a Chinese market. The girl behind me was handed a cup of piping hot noodles, and the aroma filled the car. It was spicy, hot, and perfect for that weather.

My stomach rumbled. I didn’t realize I was hungry. I sat in the car, waiting for my parents to get back. Not daring to look back, lest somebody else would notice that I wanted what I did not have.

We were fortunate and blessed with what would get us by, with enough to spare that our family could afford annual trips. The hard work of my father and the judicious approach to regulate and provide for our needs and wants by my mother helped me have the privilege, a jumpstart, that only fate and fortune decide would be served to someone.

And yet, there have been innumerable moments in life where I wished I had more. This was one of them.

Only after a few minutes of battling with my desire and gluttony in solitude did I see my mother’s extended hand holding a small cup of noodles and her smiling face. The joy was unmatched. It wasn’t the same spicy noodles, but the humble pahadi Maggi, served in a cup.

Will life ever hand me a love like that, in a cup? Without ever having to ask for it. You tell me.

Published inFamilyLifeLove

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