My father used to talk a lot about his childhood, his growing-up days, and the fun he had with his friends as a young man. He would share anecdotes and mention people that we had never met. Sometimes, my brother and I would get bored, wondering why he loved revisiting the past so much.
Now, many years later, I have my answer to that question.
We all like to dwell on those happy days from the past and more so when we age. Just recently, I was listening to a peppy song from the seventies on our Spotify playlist. Subconsciously, I went back by thirty years and remembered a whole list of happy events that happened around that time. My spirits were all brightened up.
Nostalgia has always been my favorite companion, and so often do I take these trips down memory lane. I flew out of my parents’ nest and left India in my early twenties, and there are so many mementos in the treasure chest of my mind.
Especially during the festive seasons, it is like a ritual when I have those cycles of being mentally transported 10, 000 miles away. The journey makes my happiness overflow to the brim.
The crisp air with the advent of spring reminds me of Bihu in Assam. Autumn recreates for me the bliss of Durga Puja and Diwali. In spite of the fact that we observe these festivals abroad, no celebration is able to compensate for the warmth and bonhomie in one’s birthplace. More than ever, it is in the last two years that I have looked back a lot in retrospection.
My mom has always been known for playing the perfect host. In our growing-up days, we would have people dropping in at odd hours which she did not mind. Of course, her large-heartedness in entertaining guests did bring some irritation on my part because I had some extra work on my plate!
During the peak of COVID, socializing was practically nil or had been reduced to the bare minimum. For quite a while, we experienced loneliness and nostalgia. Reflecting upon those carefree moments from the yesteryears, it became clear how important it is to connect with others and share a laugh or two. The social get-togethers that we have enjoyed have woven the fabric of our day-to-day existence.
I had a discussion with a friend and asked her how she views nostalgia. Her response was that she would not term it as good or bad. Instead she classifies it as sad. I disagreed and said that for me, nostalgia embodies happiness and that it is an unbelievably positive emotion.
It is all about one’s perspective, just like the clichéd analogy of the glass of water being viewed as either half-full or half-empty. If you have a yearning while looking back at something from earlier times, how can you say there’s an element of sadness in nostalgia? The very fact that you want to relive that time is an indicator that you wish to recreate the happiness that enveloped you back then.
Bringing the best of the past forward amplifies my joy. The very thought that I had been a part of such euphoric moments is extremely comforting.
When I think about phases that have not been smooth, the silver lining is still visible to me amidst the clouds. With utter humility, I take pride in the truth that I have been able to come out of the storm with grace and courage. I have evolved as a much stronger person.
The only thing that is constant is change. Over time, there is at least some kind of metamorphosis when our behaviors and temperaments take on a different shape. As we are swept by this wave of transformation, nostalgia is the only link to our authentic self.
This is the world of social media where devotees want to share everything under the sun. Would the hashtags #ThrowbackThursday and #FlashbackFriday even exist if people did not fondly reminisce about the past?
With tenderness I treasure all fond memories. Gratitude flows from my heart when I think about the lovely days I have had. Besides being thankful for all of the good times, I have learned an important gospel of life. Nothing can be taken for granted, and we need to count every blessing.
For me, nostalgia has never been the dirty liar that some claim it is. Rather, I look upon it as a loyal friend who has nurtured my mind and soul.
Well said, Rashmi. I could only see myself in this piece –my trajectory in life. Although I avoid dwelling in the past, these days I can only look to my younger years to find the pristine joy bathed in outright innocence, when life seemed endless… Not surprisingly, my new novel is titled “Bittersweet Memories of Last Spring.”
Thank you so much Dr. Isma for reading my article and sharing your point of view. Much appreciated. The title of your new book invites interest. I will definitely read it when it is out. Best wishes 🙏