I start off recapitulating the Santa story. It was 1975. My mother obviously had forgotten to buy a better gift and had hurriedly stuffed my Christmas stocking with a ten-rupee note in the wee hours. A happy me in the morning was quickly driven to tears when my brother logically argued that Santa Claus coming all the way from the North Pole could not have set his hands on Indian currency. The last Christmas when I hung my stocking, I knew too well that Santa was none other than Mama dear. But how could I resist the temptation of being showered with a gift much sought after? So I pretended to believe in the myth.
Twenty-four years later, my niece innocently remarked on Christmas morning that Santa perhaps had come long after midnight. She explained that the glass of milk and cookies left for the kind old man and the carrot sticks kept for Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer lay untouched when she woke up in the middle of the night. I could place myself in my child’s shoes when after years of playing Santa, I finally told him the truth. I relived my childhood experience when he too, like me, was extremely heartbroken to know that Santa did not exist.
The Santa story is just one small incident. But when viewed within larger parameters, a recurring pattern is visible in every realm. Almost every other happening in our lives is a story told and retold over the years. Moments and episodes that take place on a daily basis are nothing else but the chapters of a revised edition, the earlier version having been read by the older generation.
I distinctly remember those days when I would have those sudden tummy aches and headaches when it came to doing addition and subtraction problems in the evening. The alternative choice of playing with the neighbor next door definitely seemed more attractive. My mother would literally be in tears trying to make me concentrate on the numbers. As a young mother, I too had embarked on that journey. There were times when I had faced the Herculean task of making my little one write his numbers or learn his words and he had lodged a series of complaints that included hunger, sleepiness, and a cold among many. The same child was the happiest and healthiest imp on Earth the very next moment when he was allowed to tune in to Cartoon Network!
“Masculine disorder” was a term used by a friend to describe the state his study was in. I was highly impressed by the term he coined. Making generalizations about the entire male species would be grave injustice. But after having closely observed quite a few members of this class, I think there is definitely a grain of truth in this branding. When we were young, my father misplacing his glasses and car keys was something that happened pretty often. We would all look around in every possible spot to find them, and at times, they were discovered in odd places. Many, many years later, a similar scenario is reenacted in my house when my better half forgets where he has kept his set of keys. His spectacles were once even found in the fruit basket! The cell phone can also be added to the misplaced items list. Thankfully, it can be tracked down by calling from another number. One generation downwards, my twenty-one year-old has gone a step further. After visiting us during the weekend, he returns back to his university apartment and discovers that he has left the keys at home, 30 miles away!
Life lessons centering on the themes of responsibility and independence will never cease to exist in the parenting gospel. As my brother and I grew up, we had heard from both our parents how efficiently they had essayed the roles of a son or a daughter or a sibling. The incidents were presented to us more as examples: to learn and follow. And here we are, imparting exactly the same tutorials to our children about how they need to learn to be more responsible and independent and how at their age we had done much more!
What about fashion too that repeats itself decades later and comes back with a new twist, modern and fresh? When I bought my first bootcut jeans, a humorous incident from the past came to my mind. We had laughed over the funny episode about my aunt who was very excited to wear her new bell bottoms for a wedding. Things however did not happen as planned, and cold water was poured over her hopes because the launderer had put the crease in the wrong place while ironing. Bell bottoms occupied a top place in mainstream fashion in the 1970’s and once again with slight variations made their way to the fashion world under the name “bootcut”in the mid 90’s. The oversized bun glamorously sported by the fashionable female brings flashbacks of the top knot debuted by the beautiful Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The 30’s style half-moon manicure, the lashes from the 60’s, and the fringe from the 70’s are among the many top trends that have made a comeback.
An hour ago, I reflected on how the cycle of existence continues. What had happened decades ago is replayed again in some rhythmic pattern. Mundane incidents keep replicating; the childish innocence that we had blooms again in our kids. The complaints we had for our parents are now registered by our offsprings, and the sweet and sour conversations that had taken place among our parents are once again being repeated in our lives. In the years to come, with strands of gray, I will perhaps witness the same incidents taking place in a generation considerably younger. That is how life goes on and will continue to- with history repeating itself.