My Earliest Memory

My Earliest Memory

When Psych Babbler of Over Cups Of Coffee (how auspicious!) tagged me and urged me to share “my earliest memory” I smiled, because with me, it is never one memory. Also, if there’s one way to woo me, it is a cuppa coffee. One triggers another (the coffee as well as the memory) and before you know it, I have a whole garland of memories strung together. Yep….I have a case of somebody, stop me!

My earliest memory – no, memories

I have plenty of early memories, Mi. Nice ones and not so nice ones.

Nice ones like cuddling up with you while you studied for your exams and being quiet and feeling very proud I helped you by taking your coffee tumbler back to the kitchen to be washed.

Memories of having my hair smoothed back and then ruffled and turned into different hairstyles, looking at the mirror and laughing my head off as you hugged me tight.

Gazing up at the mirror in that room with the towel on my head, the hanging ends twisted as if they were long plaits, and wishing they were real hair – and you and Paati hiding and watching me, trying hard not to laugh.

A stray memory of Shivamma giving away the tricycle I enjoyed cruising around in…around the time I was two…. right in front of my eyes to a neighbor and laughing as the tears streamed down my face, and yours.

No….no sad memories  now.

Being pinched by that Chinna Kannan our neighbor who found joy in seeing my skin turn instantly red each time he did it. Remember how he would threaten me, saying that if I ever told anyone…..I kept my mouth shut. But my skin told a different story and you used to be shocked to see those red marks.

Being kissed by Lakshman -we were both five – we both had chubby cheeks. How you guys laughed to hear him promising me that when we both grew up and went to college, he’d take me out on the Lambrerettata scooter, just like Kanna mama.

Memories of the two of us somehow coming back from Delhi to Paati in Mumbai – a miracle.

my earliest memory miEarly morning walks with Gopu mama, skipping beside him and around him as we went to the milk booth to fetch milk, reciting nursery rhymes, slokas, songs, poems and speaking fluently (or so I thought) in English. You would make me write essays about it. And I would delight you by drawing a comic book for you!

When Kittu mama returned from office, I’d draw cups of coffee and pakodas on the red floor with chalk and he would endearingly pretend to enjoy them.

Asking Gopu mama for help with a school essay and having him tell me “Always attempt everything on your own first before asking for help. You’ll be surprised how much you are capable of” He was, and is right. I am ever grateful for that valuable lesson.

Watching our Gujrati neighbor in the building next door from our window on the second floor – and smiling every day, until they invited me home one day, gave me a mega glass of flavored milk to drink, chatted me up and sent me home with a big packet of chocolates. I think I was 4. And when I returned home, Mama chided me for accepting the chocolates. Then burst out guffawing to see it was Rajangaon and not Ravalgaon. So hilarious. He insisted we should not eat them. Does anyone remember those candies?

Kondu mama, who worked with Boots Pharmaceuticals, would bring something called “paltab” (that’s how i remember pronouncing it) We would put one big round tablet in a glass of water and watch it effervesce – into a golden sunset color. And it tasted so good. I would love to place the tab on my tongue and feel it dissolve little by little, until the final speck left a sort of sour taste, which I liked.

One of my happiest memories is Kondu mama placing that tray of water near my bed with envelopes he had brought home – with those stamps. And a big bar of Cadburys or Gems next to it. Paati would swoop down and confiscate the chocolate. I would take the stamps out and dry them and paste them in that album.

Remember how I once stored cotton candy in a bottle and was so disappointed when I opened it the next day. There was just some sugar granule-ish stuff smeared on the bottom of the jar. Who knew?

my earliest memory nail

Even worse was my disappointment when I planted an iron nail in a pot and it did not grow into a nail plant. I was 3. I would check the pot several times a day until you all worried about it and asked me what the matter was. Then you consoled me and explained why…and showed me the rusted nail.

I wonder why Paati always freaked out when I went to the back verandah. I loved to stand there, listening to the pigeons fluttering around, and watching the people next door go about their routine… the open air cooking in the afternoons from which all sorts of aromas wafted up. Chickens running all over the place, getting out of the way of the goats, while the cows and buffaloes watched serenely, quite content with life.

Tasting my first Coca Cola when I was around 2, with Kallu (my aunt) at a movie. I remember she got me a Cadbury’s chocolate bar that melted off in my hand and I ended up trying to lick half of it….and getting the rest of it on my frock.

Mi, remember how you always laughed at me for dusting talcum powder on my hands after I washed them…after meals…to get the sambar smell off? I am laughing now, thinking of how I started putting a little powder in my pockets – so each time I put my hands in, they’d come out smelling good.

Oh, the funniest memory is when the clock struck 2 pm in the afternoon -and the milkman would ring the doorbell. Paati would open that steel cupboard to get the cash to pay him. And I would hopefully hang around for two biscuits! How strict she was about rationing everything!

my earliest memory frock

And that fluffy ribbon badge one of my frocks had? I used to call it a Padmashree – no idea why! And wanted one on every frock! And you obliged. I still don’t know what they are called!

Sigh. I wish you were here to tell me those stories!

Paati = Grandmother
Shivamma = Mom’s mother-in-law
Mama = Uncle
Meenakshi Manni = Mom’s sister-in-law

And now, I am inviting my friend Tulika of Obsessive Mom to share her earliest memory!

My earliest memory
Me. Nine years old.

Update:

I am so excited to now say that I am overwhelmed by how 20 women came together to make this linkup a perfect success. I applaud them whole-heartedly for their commitment, cooperation and love…and the show of solidarity. Love you, girls!

Please read the rest of the posts here..they are listed in the order they went live.

  1. Suzy Que – Someday Somewhere
  2. Psych Babbler – Over Cups of Coffee
  3. Vidya Sury – Coffee With Mi
  4. Tulika Singh – Obsessive Mom 
  5. Shilpa Garg –  A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose
  6. Richa Singh –  The Philosopher’s Stone
  7. Meena Menon – Meena’s Space
  8. Bhavya Nandakumar – Ishithaa
  9. Kalpana Solsi – Gemini In The Sky
  10. Kajal Kapur – Rainbow Hues
  11. Geeta Nair – Fabric of Life
  12. Corinne Rodrigues – Everyday Gyaan
  13. Maggie Lawate – 2 AM Writer
  14. Shiva Kapoor – Where The Mind Is Without Fear
  15. Aditi Kaushiva – Life Is A Journey – Make It BeaYoutiful
  16. Jyothi Nair – Jyothi’s Day Out
  17. Sheetal Susan – Scribblings
  18. Kathy Combs – The Giggling Trucker’s Wife Writes
  19. Pixie – Pixie’s Take On Everything
  20. Sulekha Rawat – Memoirs

Thank you Corinne for compiling this list and making it happen! Thank you Shilpa, my dear sister in organization paranoia for orchestrating this wonderful experience.



24 thoughts on “My Earliest Memory”

  • Wow! beautiful memories there…lovely and I could actually see myself walking through them with you as you told. Weren’t you really a simple, shy, obedient child even then? Lovely! 🙂

  • So many lovely memories!! I love it! I was smiling throughout thinking of a little you putting powder in your pockets so your little hands would smell nice and licking chocolate off your hands. This was such a lovely feel good post! ♥

  • Loved loved loved this post full of such sweet childhood memories, Vidya!! We used to draw food items on floor and pretend to eat them too. Rajangaon was hilarious!! Enjoyed this peak into your childhood 🙂 ♥

  • Aaahh…. this was my initial idea… to write down various early memories… 😉 … and I loved this post… You were such a beautiful lil lady then too, na? 😀

  • Those are some lovely memories Vidya…I felt like I was literally walking down memory lane with you. Oh and the talcum powder on hands to get rid of the sambhar smell made me laugh…don’t blame you though…some of the foods left a lingering smell long after! 😀

    And yes, I did notice what a coincidence it was with both our blogs having coffee in the title! 😀

  • Thank you for this delightful post, Vidya (except the part about your aunt and the neighbour, of course 🙁 ). Reading about the powder made me recall the time at your home where Vidur, finally, came out of his bath looking like a powder puff! 🙂

  • Padmashree at such an early age too 🙂 Loved your memories with your mamas and mom but didn’t like the sadist man hurting you by pinching your cheeks.How could Shivamma give away your cycle?
    You have an inquisitive mind, growing nails? That is a first 🙂

  • Hehehehe! I was smiling throughout, I loved the powder in the pockets memory. I have a huge family and friends circle and I’ve had these connections with people, it’s beautiful how these specific things connect us! Lovely read! 🙂

  • I actually got a little desperate to read yours. I expected it to be a treat. But you know last night I was gifted a tragedy and it is still keeping me on my toes 😐 well it was a treat. Everything from tears to smiles to laughs. Vidya these memoirs need a book my friend 🙂

    Richa

  • One of the post I was dying to read… loved each one of those memory snippets..best one being the towel plaited girl in the mirror… does everyone have such a storylike life Vidya and we just let it pass by without noticing..because yours is one which definitely needs a book (As richa said)

  • One of the post I was dying to read… loved each one of those memory snippets..best one being the towel plaited girl in the mirror… does everyone have such a storylike life Vidya and we just let it pass by without noticing..because yours is one which definitely needs a book (As richa said)

  • I knew I could expect a beautiful treat reading about your memories 🙂 A wonderful treasure they are… loved the one where you would smile at the Gujarati neighbour till they invited you over for milk and the ones where you planted a nail, hoping for a nail plant to grow.. so sweet! 🙂

  • This is such a varied bouquet of memories…I loved reading it 🙂

    The cutest was this :

    ‘Being kissed by Lakshman -we were both five – we both had chubby cheeks. How you guys laughed to hear him promising me that when we both grew up and went to college, he’d take me out on the Lambrerettata scooter, just like Kanna mama.​’

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