Introduction: Man is fond of turning back from the present to the past again and again. Nothing is more pleasant to him than memories of his childhood. The memories of my childhood haunt me like a passion. Whenever I am sick of the present, I try to get relief in the past days of my childhood. A man can not remember everything that happened in his childhood. But certain events are stored in the sub-conscious mind. They sometime peep through minds eye.
My play-ground and the Teesta: My playground was the bank of the mighty Teesta. In all the seasons this river had great attraction for me. Whenever I was not at home, I could be found on its bank. Threre would be other children also with me. We used to row on the river, jump into it and swim in it. I often saw the Teesta in fury too. On one occasion when we were playing on its bank, suddenly patches of clouds made their appearance in the sky and a strong wind began to blow. My companions ran away in fear, but I did not. The storm made my heart dance with the surging waves of the river. The river swelled up and dashed violently against its sandy banks. I shall never forget the scene in my life.
Stealing of fruits: I was very fond of stealing mangoes, liches, black berries and other fruits in the company of friends in summer. Sometimes we would forget to eat our midday meals.
The village maktab: The village maktab was another interesting place. An old Maulovi Shaheb used to teach us there. It was housed in a small hut attached to the village mosque. A large number of boys and girls used to attend. We would learn lesson with deafening noise, but our old teacher did never threaten us. He was, infact, too old to do so. Though we did not fear him, we surely love him.
My first day at school: The next worth mentioning experience was my first day at school. When I entered the compound with my father, the children were enjoying themselves here and there. My mind was troubled in fear that I might not be quite free and easy in their midst. My heart began to beat fast when I was taken to the
Headmaster but his smilling face and gentle words put me at ease. I was admitted into class 1. The warmth with which my classmates received me dispelled all my fears.
The village hat: Another interesting memory is the village hat. The hat used to sit twice a week near a river. I usually went there with some other children. The seemed to me to be wonderful place. It was one of the biggest hats in the locality. We used to take with us our little fund of a few paisa and buy sweets from the vendors. After spending a few hours there, we would come back after night-fall.
In search of birds: There was a bush near our house. Hundreds of birds made their nests in that bush. Sometimes I went there with other boys. Some adventurous boys caught small birds from the holes of the tree.
Activities during holidays: During holidays when my mother went to sleep at noon, We went to the railway line. There I together with other children gathered pebbles. We watched how the trains passed with innumerable unknown facts.
Education: My father got appointment in a town school and he moved to the town immediately with all the members of the family. I was admitted into my fathers school. I felt that my school-fellows did not love me. They had no bothering feeling for one another as we had in the village. There was no freedom, no joy as we had in the village.
Conclusion: I was sorry to be in the town. But there was no help. However I have gradually adjusted myself to town life. I have now new friends and companions and am more or less happy. But my heart aches for the happy childhood days. Childhood is free from worries and has infinite capacity for enjoyment.
I remember the bright lights. That’s the earliest memory I can faithfully recollect, the first point in my timeline. I remember the warmth of the moment, the faint glimmer of neon on the streets below the apartment. Only beginning with this moment can I explore the full extent of my memories, the events of childhood that shaped my life while I lived with my grandparents in a city in China that my ancestors had resided in for ten generations.
I have other bits and pieces of patchy recollections. Together, they make up the hours and days of my childhood. It is a time that I remember fondly today, although I’m sure the gaps in my memories have often been clouded by half truths, pieced together from random photographs and my own impressions. These memories are my constant reminder of what has become my own basic philosophy on life.
I remember a trip I made to the park, riding an old, but still brightly colored merry-go-round, vibrant with hues of red, blue, and yellow. I see my grandfather, helping set the large wheel into motion as the colors swirled gracefully. While I was in China, my parents studied diligently in Lawrence, Kansas. I know this because after coming to America, I grew up around high-performance liquid chromatography, mass spectroscopy, and reaction mechanisms; I remember minute details from the amount of time I spent in the cramped quarters of the lab. On that merry-go-round and even just five years ago, I never saw the toll placed on both sides of my family.
I remember mealtimes with my cousin in the siheyuan, the courtyard, by the house we used to live in Huaiyin. Today, I can imagine the glow of the sun and the scent of the greasy, fried delicacies of the vendors just an alley away. I hear the bustle of the cars, but mainly pedestrians and bicycles going to work in the city. But most of all, I feel the care of my grandmother and my aunt, feeding both my cousin and me while we watched the birds fly through the hazy sky.
Today, the setting is different – a rural New England town, surrounded by the vivid colors of falling leaves. My childhood has never stayed far behind. I now know about the sacrifices that my parents made on my behalf. They never heard my first words, saw my first steps, nor did they share the first bits of my childhood. But in the end, all the sacrifices were worth the effort, something I note with more insight every year: I can now see a chain of goodwill, one that has made me see the benevolence in people.
In coming to America, I have one memory that sticks out among the rest. Flying into a city, one whose name has become lost to me, I once again saw the bright lights. They were the lights of a new country and a new life. I didn’t know why this memory always stood out at the time, but today, I do. I’ve lived two lives – the first began with the lights and an apartment, the second with the lights and an airplane. Today, I bridge the gap between the two, and I see that I am fortunate to have two lives and people who care in each of