Looking at the vista of lavish gifts of life, ‘childhood ‘ is the most enduring phase endowed upon humanity. These pleasant memories are profusely imbibed in our minds. The imprints are still afresh and the serenity of silent Autumns and warm Summers of childhood, still has an indelible mark on me, and for life’s longing. Yes memories of childhood are pristine, our invaluable possessions , which are mortgaged to adulthood, these memories, nostalgic moments , recollections from the past, still overwhelm my mind.
Every time when vacations approach,my mind and heart automatically reminds me of my maternal grandparents and their home. Instead of visiting unexplored lands or visiting temples as devotees for the blessings or hanging out with friends, I rather chose to visit the sojourned place every year. The reasons attributed , may be the ‘period of innocence and dreams’ spent there, before facing the big bad world.
The time spent with the grandparents was a short golden period, as they always shielded me from the most harsh and rude conditions. The life was full of royal treatments, superiority and dominance.
I still distinctly remember, how the rooster played the role of an alarm clock, the mud and clay pots became our toys and the vast green fields during summers, became our playgrounds, where we roamed under the scorching Sun or the Star-lit skies, day and night, but without any purpose, reason or objective. It was purely the luxury of doing ‘nothing.’ Heavy lunches followed by warm siestas in the lap of nature, and dinner with star-gazing sessions, was my favorite pastime .
The very thought of tasting the ripe mangoes under the mango trees in the orchard, still satiates and calms down my turbulent mind. But now, being a city dweller, staying amongst the concrete jungles in pint sized houses with exorbitant prices with rents and monthly installments, I truly realise the significance of the ‘houses on the hills’.
A small house with a big balcony and wide windows, where there are wide screens of nature and not the multiplexes. The magnificent view of the green forest belt with chirpy birds and hustling leaves on the ground. The squirrels and mynas play takes over the computer games. The fresh and chilly breeze replaces all the air-conditioners. The fireplace with burning logs of wood in the winters does not add to smog but to the warmth and cosy confines of the hill house.
The muddy rocky undiscovered paths leading to the house are replacement to all gyms, treadmills and walking plazas. Elevators do not exist here, because young or old, all are pedestrians. In the interiors, people are still untouched by junk food or beverages, as the green vegetables grown outside the houses where cow dung is used for a natural fertiliser and so it does not require green houses or chemicals. The chilled water from the ancient wells bars the entry of water coolers.
No dengue or chickegunia can ever spread it’s pang as cow dung cakes acts as deterrent to such deadly diseases. No mosquito repellent creams or machines are required. The small hill house has acres of land surrounding it, where man and beast live in harmony. The ancestral deities reside there and make their presence felt with chiming bells, the sound of which echoes across the hills.
The mighty deodar and pine houses the numerous other tiny beings on its branches. During winters the mighty deodars appear like the snowman with a blanket of snow over them. The star studded skies give birth to many interesting stories as we lie on the cot kept on our terrace. The gentle moonlight falling on the rooftop of the hill house overshadows all the lampposts and streetlights of the city.
As the children sit in the porch soaking the winter sun, they have the pickle in the jars to accompany them. The fragrance of the ghee emanating from the kitchen attracts many visitors, who sit for hours sipping hot tea and telling stories of the neighbouring houses, it is then we realise that chatting on our mobile phones is useless, the real conversation takes place here, with the people and the nature.
The hill house is witness to coming and going of many generations, who spent their precious years in the lap of this house. It still stands rock solid, with numerous stories in its folds and every nook and corner of the house.
I don’t want a modular kitchen with electric chimneys, I don’t want the social sites, but only the social connections, I do not want the compound walls, I am safe and secure from the prying eyes here. I want to run away from the suffocation of the city, sit in peace on a riverside, watch the grazing cows, unlike the ones in the city surviving on polythene. The leopards and tigers roam freely in the jungle here.
I am ready to settle here, away from humdrum of noisy polluted cities but then, as I turn around, and see, the neighbouring hills have been cut open and ripped apart, to make more houses and roads. To please the tourists with the facility of electricity and water supply, the gushing streams of water lie tattered with garbage.
Amidst all this my hill house still stands but in much more inferior state. Yes the house on the hills has memories of my growing years ,embedded in it, where I want go back, again. It has been a shelter to me, it’s roof has always protected me. My house on the hills.