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The little eyes of my Onam

‘Sir, please share your Onam memories’, a request that came out of the blue had put me into limbo; in a fraction of a second, I tried to recollect and trace out a few but failed miserably. I hopelessly hung onto the nostalgic cliché that the Onam is a harvest festival but could not even faintly remember any such incidents in my entire life in which I participated in any such harvest. Having failed to escape from the embarrassment of not having any noteworthy memories, I humbly narrated the good old days of mighty Mahabali and the notorious three steps of Vamana, which conquered the earth, ether and nether worlds and finished off my experiences with Onam!

Worried about not having any nostalgic memories, I sat behind the wheel while driving back home, thinking of recollecting a few. Even after Forty-Four Onams, nothing is there to share about those had tormented me. The brown dusty ponds, white-hot dunes and endless stretch of cashew nut trees flushed to my brain from nowhere, where we spent our childhood Onam vacations with our grandparents. Still, at the same moment, I realised that those vacations, though enjoyed with nature, were spoiled due to the underlying fear of soon-to-be-published mark sheets of Onam examinations. Having failed to relate Onam to my childhood nostalgic visits to grandparents, I brushed up my memories to connect it with OnaSadya but failed to connect them with nostalgia as I missed fish and chicken delicacies on those days when only vegetarian dishes were served.

When struggling to fish out nostalgia from my memories, those tear-filled but joyful eyes rushed to the corner of my mind from nowhere, as I could clearly remember his innocent face while doing a fashion parade wearing newly bought Onam dresses in front of the kids who assembled in our sit out to watch an Onam film in Doordarshan. Though the ‘fashion parade’ was done with all the innocence of childhood, I didn’t notice his worn-out knickers, tired face and sad eyes. Still, I mindfully enjoyed his innocuous claps every time I entered the hallway after wearing new pairs of dresses, one after another. Though I heartfully enjoyed every bit of that proud demonstration and his joyful expressions to that parade, somewhere deep in my mind, the sadness in his deep, tear-filled eyes made an unfathomable scar that is still filling my consciousness with guilt. That Onam, though I enjoyed every bit of it in the midst of the endless claps and uncountable abundance, was just another day for him with nothing new to wear and no Onasadya to enjoy. Though that day had passed, even after a flow of many years, somewhere deep inside me, that wound held me back from showcasing any fortunes of my life on any social media. While parking the car at the bay and walking back home, I regretfully recollected that no other Onam memories are as strongly engraved as those innocent little eyes in my mind, and that will never fade away. Let's share the abundance but not showcase it in front of others. Happy Onam to all of you!

Bijoy Pulipra

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