ANANYA S GUHA gives a flavour of Christmas in Shillong
With the passing of every Christmas this ‘settles’ down in the artifacts of what we call the ‘mind’. But inevitable it is childhood I recall, in Shillong’s green wintry pine trees, the chilling cold in morning’s holocaust or the sedate undulating hills – all these the ‘camera’ takes snapshots.
What I also associate with passionately are the winter holidays oranges with golden hues, the cricket fields, the whispering pines alluded to above and the warm fire place in the evenings – peeling layers of orange skins. These are now memories coalesced with pictures of grimy sun tanned faces, boys brandishing cricket bats.
Evenings were a huddle. And when the carol procession went by, the fictiveness of a Santa Claus or a Rudolf came alive with reality, breathing down one’s neck. Christmas was round the corner – a propitious day it presaged. Yet the foretaste of it was: animated songs and celebration.
There was a fear – what would happen when it ended? Shillong would bear the imprints, of desolation and grimness. Many people would take off for longish holidays and we would remain huddled talking only cricket in street corners; accoutered in jackets, caps and gloves.
The past is history, but it impinges the mind like hazy pictures, still; taken with a black and white camera. Christmas also meant exchange of cards; something which was emblematic of love and friendship. I would implore my mother to have a tree ornately decorated with silvery linings, wearing that charismatic look which only the mind’s eye knew.
As the years went by and as the true meaning of Christmas dawned on me I began to ruminate more deeply on the three spiritual dimensions of life – birth, ‘death’ (read crucifixion) and resurrection.