Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Gift

I am the seventies generation. Childhood entertainment consisted of movies and Sunday trips to children’s park. Our eating out was made up of the occasional softie in Civil Lines after the matinee or a rolled newspaper cone of murmura and matar at the park, where our favourite swing was the concrete elephant you entered from the tail end and slid out along the trunk slide.

My memory insists that Nutties came in a plumper, richer, weightier version and that the choc-bar tasted heavenly, what with the thicker layer of brown guarding the languid nutritious creamy white, inside. It was only during a particularly extravagant stretch that one bought roasted peanuts with the accompanying packet of “masala” in the winters. Mangola, Fanta and Campa vied with milk-soda for our attention. The rare shopping for ready-made food articles consisted of hard core sweets such as jalebi or besan ka ladoo.

Another delicacy that springs to mind is the huge, pale green, juicy, slightly tangy “peru”, sliced in four quarters with a rusty looking knife that had obviously been busy during the day. A dash of “chatpata masala” and we would be walking off, the happier and the richer. Idli dosas came much much later, pizzas and burgers were iconic events and as for French food and Chinese fare, well, unheard of in those days.

But there was the first Phillips Turntable model, brought home triumphantly, one particular ambitious day in Allahabad. Not to forget the 33 RPM, 66 RPM and 75 RPM discs of “Shor”, “Khel Khel Mein” and “Caribbean Music”. We also went with Beeji for the religious rage of those times, “Jai Santoshi Maan”. The orange lick lolly cost 25 paise and homemade egg ball and sponge puddings were our manna from heaven. Golden red “paranthas” with mango pickle and a glass, not a cup, a glass of hot tea was my idea of a gourmet meal.

Dad would drive us to Kathak lessons and sit out that one hour in a Russian language class closeby. I was in College when he took us out for a family meal at a restaurant, just for the feel! There were the calling ons, the birthday parties, the Club evenings, the festival celebrations in the Officers’ Mess, the cultural shows and the picnics. 

It is now, that I am more than my life’s half way home, having done with my own active parenting, there is a break; long enough to muse over the phenomenal gifts our parents gave us.

The conclusion is that by far, the most precious, priceless, worth a King’s ransom gift they gave us was their love for each other. It is this mutual respect and support that found reflection in our happy memories. It gave us a tremendous sense of security to know that our parents were committed to and cared for one another.

That’s really it then. To all parents and parents to be; there is no greater favour you can do your kids than to love each other.  

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