… so came my 4 yr old daughter singing from school one day! And I was totally taken in by surprise. When had I last heard that song? I tried to recall. Probably in the 80s, when DD was the only channel available and Chitrahaar was a popular family entertainment program. This cute kid in sepia would sing this song with full fervor. And to now hear my own daughter sing it after probably having heard it maybe 2 decades ago, well it was surreal! I had a silly grin on my face. She told me how her teachers were teaching all of them a bunch of songs. And when I asked her to sing the other songs that they had taught, she sang bits of ‘Saare jahan se accha‘ and some from ‘Hum honge kamiyab ek din‘. This was in the first couple of days of August and of course it didn’t take me long to realise that they were practicing for the Independence Day celebrations.
The sights, smells, sounds from childhood pretty much define home for me. As an adult, though the appeal changes and one seeks for other shores and other sights, the thought or the feeling of ‘home’ always kind of gives the warm fuzzy feeling. Some of the neighborhood sights of Bangalore, the feel of the lazy foggy mornings when Bangalore is still only waking up, the smell of the sampige, all define home for me. In the same way, though I was never raised in Kerala, the smell of the soil there, the total rustic scenes, the tunes of some of the native birds still manage to tingle this one corner of my heart. Similarly for my husband too, things that define home are, I am sure, pretty Indian. Why am I trying to define home? Let’s look at it this way. What if we had continued staying in the US? Our kids would have assimilated the sights, sounds, smells of the place they are growing in. Nothing wrong with that. Just that those subtleties would have slowly defined ‘home’ for them. The sights and sounds in the US are something that we love too, but it would probably never feel like ‘home’, with such strong competition coming from various nooks and corners of our own childhoods; those are ingrained. And in this ‘if’ scenario, lets fast forward a few years. Our kids will still be our kids, but with a totally different concept of home, which is probably ok. But, I am quite sure it would not have been very ok for me. ‘Home’ is a lot more than a 4 letter word to me; ‘kids’ is another 4 letter word that means the world to me. And to have the kids not even remotely think of ‘home’ as anything that is ‘home’ for me would have probably been hard. I don’t know. Maybe not too. I may have started defining it differently for myself also. Either way, I still would have had the warm fuzzy feeling for many things Indian, for things from my childhood here. We would have probably sent the kids to a bunch of Indian classes in the US, but unfortunately that would still not cut it, IMHO. And she may have never learnt to sing ‘nanha munna’.
The world has changed a lot since when I grew up. So has India. Raising them here is still going to make the nuances that form childhood memories very different for them. Irrespective, at least there is hope that the 4 of us - kids, hub, and I - may end up having a couple of common things to identify our childhoods with. And in my old age, when I sit chatting with my daughter/son over some nice hot chai, if we can talk fondly about a couple of things from our past in Bangalore or India, then I am sure I will have our R2Iing decision to thank for hugely. What do you say?
Nanha munna rahi hun, desh ka sipahi hun,
Bolo mere sang, jai hind, jai hind, jai hind, jai hind, jai hind!
Happy Independence Day my fellow Indians! Happy 60th, dear India!