Evenings: Now And Then
Evenings: Now And Then
Most of the working-class people’s evenings are spent in front of the laptop finishing some pending work. If luck is by our side, we might steal in some time for watching a movie or even reading a book. And surprisingly, the evenings in today’s times just turn into night in the blink of an eye. On most days, you have simply done nothing productive at all and the evening is already gone!
When I look back at my small-town childhood days I reminisce waiting for the evening to come as its arrival was much more delayed than it is now. Many a post-school afternoon was spent in fighting against sleep just so that I could go up on the terrace and have some quiet time by myself or play and talk to my toys as if they were real people. I clearly remember how my mother, who has always been a teacher, simply wanted to switch off for a while and take a short siesta (I totally understand now!). I, on the other hand, hardly ever gave in to her and never settled to lie down. I kept waiting for her to get up so that it was snack time soon and we could get something nice and homemade to eat.
On many such evenings, we used to make impromptu plans of visiting a family friend or a distant relative’s place within the city. So we used to get dressed, take a cycle rickshaw and set off for their home. In those primitive times when few people had landline phones, we never really felt the need to call and inform anyone that we’re planning to drop in and that too a handful of us since we stayed in a joint family. Most of these were practically surprise visits and as far as I can remember, we’ve never had an occasion when we didn’t feel welcome. I can’t imagine ringing anyone’s bell today without having informed and prior setting of date and time with them. Anyway, so most people used to be overjoyed seeing us and almost instantly the ladies used to get into a chatter while the kids played in the ‘aangan’ which is now almost an extinct part in homes. While in conversation, a couple of ladies of the house would casually get up and get into the kitchen to make tea and savouries. Sometimes an odd boy or girl was secretly called to go out and buy biscuits or samosas but warned to bring them discreetly so that the guests won’t notice. The chatter and conversations used to continue over tea and sometimes sprinkled with a performance or two of the kids to showcase something new they’ve learnt at school.
I also remember sitting through the ‘chai-nashta’ sessions in candlelight during power cuts on many such visits but nobody seemed to notice the difference.
Periodically, the ladies of the house would keep excusing themselves and when we used to make ourselves ready to leave, on most days we were invited over dinner and it was somehow magically ready too! Nobody ordered food or panicked with the sudden gush of four-five additional people in the house. The food generally used to be routine and simple as their menu was already set before we arrived, but was served with utmost love and care. When it used to be time to go, I remember many a times when we were given a bagful of home grown guavas or grapefruits from the ‘aangan’.
Those lazy evenings are a far, far memory now. Let alone surprise visits, we even think twice before calling someone up for the fear of disturbing them. Life is practical and fast. People are more productive and much busier than they used to be. Our lifestyles have changed and so has our outlook towards life. Everything has evolved for the better. But sometimes I just wish I could go back in time, wear a frilly frock made out of the leftover fabric from my mother’s or aunt’s suits and reach someone’s house happily dangling my legs in the backseat of a cycle rickshaw.