Nina Sud is a graduate in literature who is also an actor. She originally thought of this during a theatre workshop where you had to come up with a story revolving around a prop and narrate it in character. Her prop was a pair of spectacles.
And it’s summer time again.
Summer somehow always seems to be the season for transition. Winter is more static, with the weather making it too tough to really be doing much more than sitting in the blanket and planning out details of the summer months. With the days growing longer the playtime of the children in the park increases, the number of people on the road increases and so does the number of ice cream carts. Strangely, the worse the weather gets, the more reasons I am given to be outside the comfort of my home and braving the sun.
The race for colleges in The University of Delhi has started again. Last year I was a part of the race. After years of reading articles about it and seeing pictures of students check cut off lists and fill forms, I was one of the people those articles spoke about. It’s the same thing that happens year after year, just with a different group of people. And each group feels its experiences are unique.
My first memory is a hazy one, the kind of blurred flashback you could expect to see on a movie- With the voices coming from far away and a five year olds laughter as the soundtrack. But the first summer I can remember is more important. That summer begun with us moving to a new city. My parents always had spectacles or so it seemed to me then and that summer my older sister got a pair too. Change was something I was still learning to cope with. Fitting in was an art I still had to master. The exclusion of being the only one different in my family, the one place I ALWAYS fitted into was hard. Yes, so not having specs is not really standing out in a big way or doesn’t mean you’re not accepted but try explaining that to a scared, insecure 6 year old. My mother had told me not to wear the specs because they would spoil my eyes and if I did, I’d need a big pair too. Little did mother know that ever since I learnt this, I would stand on a stool in front of the bathroom mirror, wearing a pair of specs too big for me, wondering how long it would take for my eyes to get spoilt. Funnily enough I still don’t need specs even 13 years later.
I know how it is to have my entire world and everything in it change. I like that. Facebook, Orkut, BBM are all too recent to have counted for anything in our childhoods. You couldn’t always keep in touch with people like you can now. You couldn’t know every single detail of their existence through their status. You moved and you made new friends. If you were lucky you would run into them years later in a different city when you were a different person. But you weren’t that lucky every time. College was a new adventure and just the right time period. It would be over before I got bored of it. I convinced myself of the truth of this statement when I was preparing myself for college.
That summer when it started was filled with dreams and expectations of the summers to come. But it was also a reminder of the first one I remember. A little girl on a bathroom stool who only wanted to ‘fit in’. The little girl had stayed in me. I didn’t know it then but the specs changed into other things according to the situations I would find myself in and what it was that I wanted to fit into.The specs would change into a harry potter book when I was 8, a guitar when I was 13, a cigarette when I was 16…it would change into so many different things later in my life that I eventually stopped recognizing their symbolism.
There were a lot of changes after that summer I had to learn to deal with. A lot of them are yet to come. In a lot of situations I’m the only one comfortable to step into the limelight and it is easy for me to keep to it and ignore the ones in the shadows- All those years of moving have given me the gift of dealing with change in the best way possible. But the memory of the six year old with her mother’s specs never let me do that. The six year old in me recognizes the same in the others. All of us are trying to fit in, all of us are trying to find a place in the world.
I still smile at the memory of that summer. The summer whose memory guides all the summers that follow.
The specs in my hand have turned into a pen now. But this time, they not only helped me fit in. They help me reach out.
If it isn’t the lost six year olds in us that help each other out and recognize each other in times of need, we’re going to have a tough time being adults.