malleshwaram, Bangalore - When I was 4, we lived in an old 4-storied building. Entry to the terrace was past a weatherbeaten door that had a grilled square at the top. I was forbidden from entering the terrace - I didn't question why. So when Asha and Mahadev, my parents, were out at work and my brother Pranab was at school, I would walk up the dim-lit, narrow flight of stairs and sit by the door. I don't remember why, but I liked it there. I wasn't tall enough to peek through the grill so one day when I was insufferably curious, I carried a shuttle-cock with me and flung it past the grill. A minute later, it came back. I threw it in again and it came back immediately. This happened a dozen more times that day and a few more through the year. We moved out, I grew up, but I never forgot. Ever so often when the lights went out and friends sat down to talk ghosts - I would recount to them earnestly, the tale of the Ghost-Shuttler Behind the Forbidden Door. This evening, under swirling storm-clouds, I spoke to my mother Asha about this memory. She laughed and said, 'It was Suresh and Shailaja. The brother-Sister who lived on the terrace.. it cannot be anybody else!'. I remember them vaguely. They visited everyday. But I had never known which floor they lived on. I had always thought the terrace was locked-out. They were quietly returning my shuttles through the grill. This memory had been one of only a handful other memories from that house. So this is me putting a message out in the universe; a shuttle past the grill, not knowing if it will return - For Suresh and Shailaja, where ever you are, I hope you are happy and bright. I remember you still, You cheeky buggers. Your easily amused 4-year old neighbour from 1st floor.
I guess it is alright to ask too many questions. To pursue a curiosity until it fizzles and fades or spits up an adventure. More than a year ago, I watched again, the first Jurassic Park movie and began to wonder why there were not too many reports of paleontological discoveries in India. China, Mongolia and our estranged neighbour, Madagascar, boasted their own treasures from the Triassic- Cretaceous period. I asked Google why. A few months later, I found myself sitting before Princess Aaliya Sultana Babi ( @aaliya_babi ).We were in her private study at the Garden Palace of Balasinor. Around us were all kinds of strange rocks; 65million year old fossils, dinosaur eggs, bone fragments - remnants of the descent of a burning ball of light that hurtled toward earth one fateful evening. For over 15 years, she had been the guardian of these untold treasures of the past that lay scattered around Balasinor. She was about to tell me a story. Her story. 'This is how it all began,' she said. And I paused silently to acknowledge this little victory. Of all the questions asked to no end, one was about to see the light. The light of the past. 'in the light of the past -The Dinosaur Princess' is my last story for @untold_mag , as some of you here know I am now a part of @farawaycollective. Save for few minor tweaks and checks, the story is as good as live. I hope you enjoy this tale. Images by @shaktirajjadeja
Story link in profile. #whpgetlost
On a lonely hill stood a lonesome house. This house was not empty or silent as it rang with cheer and rippling laughter. For it was where she spent her summers - the ancestral home of her elders. Around it in every direction were rolling tea plantations. Among all the foot trails that crisscrossed, she remembers one curious path, even to this day. It was the one that wound down the hill, away from the house. It reached a clearing and there in the middle stood an old well beside a holy shrine. It was customary to offer prayers to this shrine by anybody that passed it by. Her memory burns bright not with the vision of this shrine by the well, but what came before it. No matter what hour or season, anybody who approached the shrine, only moments before , would feel an eerie, cold swish of air breezing through their being. It was a household legend, this cold wind. Every time she walked past, there were the frantic prayers that quivered out of her lips, the sound of her tiny feet slapping forward tensely and then there was the unexplainable cold swish of air - This, she remembers like an unforgettable school-rhyme.
Thinking of more recent memories, I realise how our recollections hinge on some remarkable feats, some fantastic jaw-dropping moment, a revelation under blaring lights. But in the beginning, when we were all so little, we recall the past by something so feeble, so weightless - like a cold swish of air, a thunderclap above tiled roofs, a fond voice in the darkness, narrating a story you would never forget. *The tale above is a childhood memory @lekha_rathinam shared with me on that evening we saw fireflies flitting above the surface of a lotus bellied lake.