As far as household chores are concerned, I particularly pride myself in the kneading of the dough. That was the first thing I learnt and mastered in the kitchen, even before I tried my hand at boiling tea leaves. The process of turning powdery, lacklustre flour into consistent, supple dough, gets me every single time. I am not going to bore you with my culinary expertise 😅 or interests further, instead would get to the point in a jiffy. I am very obsessive about not leaving any trace of flour sticking to the sides of the trough after I am done kneading. I knead and knead and knead till the trough is sparkling clean.
As it always happens when I am a little anxious, my thoughts flow in a rhythm of their own. Things as mundane and unremarkable as kneading dough may also trigger a profound chain of thoughts and emotions. That coupled with anything equally regular may result in a blog like this.
How many people might an average person know at any given point of time? And I am not talking of the thousands that we seem to have on social network accounts. I am talking of people who we meet physically on a daily, fortnightly or monthly basis. Some of whom may be a significant part of our day, others still, also as important and relevant even if we don’t see them daily. I have some friends who respond to my good morning messages daily. We may be apart geographically but in that particular instant we are thinking of each other. So, may be a hundred or so people who we are in constant touch with.
Now try and remember how many of them were there when we were growing up or when we were at school or college. The number will dwindle. Rare and special are the people who have the same set of friends and acquaintances in all phases of their lives. As it happens, we fade out of some people’s lives and some people fade out of ours. It’s a completely natural process. Some go away rather quickly others gradually. The ones that just move along as our lives take us places, are the ones that don’t hurt. We treasure the memories they left us with, without even realising that they are hidden someplace inside the maze, our minds are. Someday we come across an old letter or photograph of them or we reconnect via Facebook and voila, the slideshow of memories begin!
This happened with me today. I reconnected with an elder didi of mine who also happened to have taught me once, long back, and I couldn’t hold back memories. She was the first person I had heard speaking, effortlessly, in English. She had a beautiful handwriting. Some phrases that I picked up while she taught us English and History, have remained with me ever since. I realised that everytime I have ever used those phrases, I have fondly remembered her. It had become so much a habit with me that my mind could never erase the mental picture of her I carried. Her face had not faded away like it happens with people who drift apart. I perused her profile and found that after so many years she still looks the same – well turned out, smiling, wise eyes, an air of intellect surrounding her that is not limited by the fact that I just saw a picture of her. Though short in stature, her personality looms large for me. I cherish what she gave me as a child. I was at an impressionable age and I am glad that I got to learn from her. I hold dear, her contribution in shaping me, however little it may seem. It is immensely significant for me. Indelible!! It’s true, we never realise how much space we take up in other people’s lives and minds.
At times I am a little anxious of talking to people from my own past because try as they might people do change and I am afraid that the mental image I carry inside may not match with the stark reality of what time and space have turned them into. Nevertheless, it is still mighty fabulous to be able to recall so much of our past and people’s role in it, frame by frame. It’s a heady feeling to agnise that just like footprints on the moon, certain marks always remain, clear and incorruptible.
It is a whole other story with the people we have to leave after a falling out of ways. They are the ones who stay the longest in our minds and hearts. Always at the forefront! They are like the hint of flour left on the sides and base of the trough after the kneading is done. We so want them to be a part of our dough, our life but as it happens with dough, so it is in life. We cannot accomplish the desired inclusion without tempering with the consistency of either. I hate leaving people behind, I would rather disrupt the harmony or regularity of my life than to let go of people that, once, enriched it. But all of us have to take tough decisions at times and that is where the anxiety creeps in. Anyone who leaves, takes a part of us with them. True, we adapt, but we are never the same again.
How I wish that keeping people close were a skill to be mastered, like kneading! I could have learnt that and would have never left anyone behind. EVER.