by Anwesha Mukherjee

Dear Diary,

You know those gentle whispers? Those hushed murmurings? Those muffled undertones?

They returned.

The memories.

“Shoot the zombies!” I yelled, toppling down my bed. Having realized it was a rather unwelcome dream in which I had pictured the thundering of my alarm clock to have been the pandemonium of a zombie apocalypse in Neptune, I trudged to the mirror, only to find myself looking like one of the zombies in Neptune, except that I looked like a languid one on the verge of collapsing into sleep again.

This is how I used to feel each time that alarm clock sounded, the one with the chipped paint and the exasperating loud sound. Hearing the sound this morning made the memories flood back – the countless snoozes to steal a few more minutes under the warm covers, and then the frantic rush to get ready in time for the school bus.

As I sat in Strachan for breakfast, I couldn’t help but think about high school. The morning assembly, the uniform check, the cafeteria chatter, the wistfulness for free periods, the collective anxiety of tests.  It feels like it has been so long since this was my routine. Walking up and down the school corridors trying to memorize one of the indefinitely long tables of salt analysis, spending hours completing the boards outside class, or sneaking out of physics class to take a stroll in the park outside. Who knew how much we would miss the simplicity of those times?

When I was scrolling through old photos today, each picture felt like a wave splashing me: a tidal wave of memories. Each photo was like a mystical portal, sweeping me into the annals of the past. I could feel the unanticipated excitement of three-year-old me on our first family trip to Shimla and the innocent mischief in four-year-old me sulking as I sat on Rohtang Pass, thirteen thousand feet above sea level. I could feel the unadulterated joy of me skipping around the house in awe of the decorations at my aunt’s wedding, the delight at watching a movie for the first time, the sheer ecstasy before every school picnic, the simple joys of running out with my friends and savouring the coconut water as the first drops of monsoon rain peeped out. The silly smiles, the absurd expressions, the genuine happiness – all of it was rewarding beyond anything I’d ever imagined.

Rice with mashed potato, or perhaps more appropriately, ‘Aloo-sheddho-bhaat’, the quintessential Bengali cuisine, lies before me as I swing my legs impatiently, stealing hopeful glances, first at the grandfather clock, then at the door. With the unabashed obstinacy of four- year-olds, I blatantly refuse to touch my food until my mother returns from school.

Remember those sandcastles the two of you used to build every day, thinking about how one day you’d build one taller than Mount Everest? Those little limericks you spun together on the way to school? Those chocolates you stealthily popped into your mouth, knowing full well you weren’t allowed to eat in the bus?  Remember that swing the two of you ran off to every evening after finishing the homework? That bench in front of the river you spent hours playing Ludo on? That one spot on the terrace both of you always hid in whenever playing hide-and-seek with others? 

Nostalgia, for me, is like a gentle whisper from the past that tugs at my heartstrings, reminding me of moments that have shaped who I am today. These moments, sometimes forgotten in the hustle of the present, resurface to offer comfort, a reassuring hug from days gone by. Nostalgia isn’t just a stroll down memory lane; it’s a refuge, a reminder of each second, each minute, that has sculpted my journey. It’s the soundtrack of my life, an orchestra transporting me back to joyous highs and comforting lows. In the midst of life’s uncertainties, nostalgia acts as an anchor, grounding me in the beauty of what has been and the promise of what lies ahead.

They stand today, like the memories, as a fortress of dreams. A silent witness to the passage of simplicity – the passage of time.

Cheers to Nostalgia,

Anwesha Mukherjee

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