Reminiscing Khandala

The reminiscence brought a floodgate of memories that now felt warm and good.
‘Aati Kya Khandala?’ this to many brings up mega memories of Aamir Khans’ antics of lighting a matchstick with a slish of his tongue.

For me, going back to Khandala after 3 decades brought back memories of what Khandala was and stood for; those many years ago.

In spite of the song popularising Khandala throughout the nation, I was pleasantly surprised that the quaint old village that was then, had hardly metamorphosed. Except for a few colorful chiki shops that dotted the main lane and the bustling highway that formed a panoramic view point from top, the town was laid back and seemed untouched by the gizmos of the modern world.

The rail tracks are what literally Khandala stands for and viewing the criss cross rails from high above the mountains was very nostalgic. There was one unused railway track that would earlier connect us from our dwellings atop the hills to the village in the valley. We were now climbing that very rail track that would take us to the place where our then modest, temporary dwellings stood. It was in the middle of a jungle with a lone road that disappeared higher up to the mountain plateau.

We were keen to find where our small colony of houses stood. They were dismantled of course, and to find the exact spot was a herculean task. We were eager and curious, and the search was daunting as the topography had changed, winds had blown off layers of sand, vegetation and flora had sprung in what seemed to us oddly different places. We stood there fighting the fierce sunrays, and then we found it, the patchy remnants of the flooring of our houses! Our find made us as ecstatic as an archeologist would, when one unearths a new find!

I ran to stand on what appeared to be my house, it was a strange moment, it was as if the time had stood still, and my life played ‘fast backward’, to the ‘me’ that was! There was a euphoric touch of familiarity, and perhaps healing, for it was good to know that I was no more the awkward young girl thrown into a place that was so remote and removed!

The reminiscence brought a floodgate of memories that now felt warm and good. I could literally feel life as it was then, the voice of the mother calling out her young one, the elderly ladies gossiping in the back yard, the meowing of the cat, the battering rain on the roof top, the smell of food being cooked for the afternoon meal. Coming back to the present, I looked around for a human face so we could connect to what was. A young man came by, and we eagerly questioned him to connect with the olden times, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I hear the elders say that earlier there were some ‘babu log’ doing a lot of work, but now they are all gone!”

I looked up at the mountains around, they looked tall and imposing and they seemed to be sending a silent message which was quite intriguing. “Life has moved on” it said, “what was then belonged to a distant era, what mattered now was this moment, the present, and leaving the past where it was, is the best thing to do!”

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