Often in life, we travel to different places for different reasons. Sometimes we want to explore, sometimes we just want to forget ourselves, and sometimes we just want to relax. Recently, I got to experience one special type of travel where I got to time travel my own life in flashbacks.
A few days back, I mistakenly took a different bus while on my way home. But since I wasn’t much in a hurry and had planned to walk in the evening anyway, I decided to get off at a different station from where I could walk back home.
I got off at a station where I had spent more than 10 years of my life — my entire childhood. And yet, it had been more than 10 years since I had last walked around there. At first, the place looked totally different. With its huge buildings and crowded streets, it was a far cry from the open pasture where I had grown up. The huge contrast was a reminder of how much things had changed around me. So, a strange feeling kicked in, almost like that of being left behind.
But then, as I saw a playground where I used to play inter-school cricket, it suddenly unlocked my own memory box. I realized how I hadn’t touched a cricket bat in god knows how long. It was a timely reflection of how much I had also changed over the years. So, I thought to myself — “If things could recognize too, maybe the place wouldn’t recognize me either.”
It was only when I saw an old temple the place looked somewhat familiar. And that was when the true nostalgia drug kicked in. Soon, I recognized a narrow metal bridge that could hardly pass a vehicle when it was first built and an old stationery shop where I used to buy football posters.
The more I recognized points from my past, the more I started seeing projections of my life from different points in time. Flashbacks of going to temple as a 6-year-old. Flashbacks of learning bicycle as a 10-year-old. Football matches post-school. People I had met. Friends I had made. Friends I had not seen in 10 years. Memories. Memories of all sorts kept flooding in. Memories from places to people to incidents to different stages of my life. It was almost like watching my own life from a vantage point, almost like a third person, like watching some character in a movie.
When on a nostalgia ride, there are moments where a part of you wants to stay back, or at least relive the moment longer. And yet, you can not pause and stay there, as your head is constantly running, floating away at its own whim. Floating from one point to another in time, floating from one stage to another in life. So, all you can do is lose yourself in the ride, as you also know the ride is going to end soon.
Watching my childhood in flashbacks — something that I had lost long ago — was a special experience. An experience which I believe anyone can experience and cherish in his or her own way. A special travel experience that anyone can experience without shedding any money or vacation.
As I reached near my home, I started seeing structures from my present life. Each passing moment, I was coming back to my present self. Slowly but surely, the effect of nostalgia drug was going to fizzle out. So, the best I could do was get home and note down my feelings. And capture the fleeting emotions before they were to vanish into thin air.