An escape route called nostalgia

Kappan’s Saucer

Nostalgia. Gulp that pill down and be guaranteed a momentary high! Imagine this. You are in this car, heading to the tail-end of a chaotic gridlock. Your heart nearly stops, but the mind tries a trick. By design, you yearn for a black-out, a memory tweak that just wipes out the next half-hour!

But, obsessed with breathing, your nostrils don’t care for your lame-duck nostalgia. The heart commands and the nose obeys, letting in the oxygen of today in heavy, polluted doses. Mixed with mint-fresh vehicular exhaust, it shows off its contemporary heft. But wait. Stuck in 1999, or was it 1989, your mind is on flashback drive.

The signal reads red, unmoved for eternity. You care less. For a riot of green just pulled you back to a city in leisure mode, dawn to dusk. Your memory muscles tightened, the inner eye split open to watch the past unfold: cyclists and walkers, the occasional car and a lone rickshaw, gloriously unaware of a nasty future in store.

They pedalled free, strolled in style, with certified pride: Physically fit! The past so perfect, the present so tense. And then, boom! In a jiffy, the cyclist motorised, the wheels doubled, and the cars came in droves. Their egos hurt, four-wheelers of yore morphed into grander, gas-guzzling giants. Size does matter.

The mind wandered, bliss took wings. But then came the awakening, rude, loud and synchronised.

Nostalgia just hit a road hump. The signal ahead flickered, the red acquiring shades of green. Was the past playing tricks again? In despair, you craned your neck, looked for answers.

Reality dawned. The flickering signal had triggered hope, a collective yearning to get ahead. On a high, every driver worth his wheels had honked his horn. The synchronised honking of over a hundred cars was almost spiritual. It was a resolute, determined, no-nonsense message to the signal: Turn green!

But the flicker was an aberration, a momentary lapse of automated reason. The signal might have as well screamed aloud: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch! The red returned, undaunted by the desperate blaring of the horns, some of them greenhorns to this reality. Still scrambling for their lost keys, the cops worked on the gridlock.

That settled, the mind hit the back button, yet again. But the office-bound had no such luxury. Frantic calls back and forth got their laptops humming, as their brains wired and tongues lashed. They knew the drill: Gridlocked or unlocked, work in transit, work around.

Enough! Done with the daily dose of real-time sympathy, the old wine beckoned. The mind drifted, lifting the spirit, dismantling gridlocks. Flowers bloomed, smokescreens melted away. In the distance, two-three decades away, the walks turned leisurely. Rush-hour, brushed away!

Programmed to perform, the job-hooked random-access memory wouldn’t read nostalgia. Such minds worked with a clinical, robotic verve. But some place, in a tiny corner of their mind, this deep thought lurked, feeble, unarticulated: We pull up our socks for years, to hang up our boots one day!

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