Nostalgia is a strange emotion. It is created by a subtle concoction of memories. It is a sweet and sour taste that we savor with our hearts. It is something that I experienced today and want to experience till I am alive. Even though today’s incidents were quite insignificant, they do carry a rich flavor that can only be compared to DARK CHOCOLATE! Yes, and dark Chocolate has its own bitter-sweet taste in it too!
Today morning, I took Aunt Padma for a reunion of her old acquaintances. Some of these people were part of her extended family, while some were just friends. However, they had all lived a fond part of their lives in a locality called Vasant Colony. Two days ago, Aunt Padma received the invitation from Mrs. Savita Desai. We were invited to join the reunion over lunch at the newly built Vasant Colony auditorium. Initially, Aunt Padma was reluctant to go, however I saw a sparkle in her eyes. I understood an elusive childlike thrill in her heart.
I said, “Aunt Padma, let’s go there. You would get to meet so many different folks again!”
She agreed and we went. At the venue, we were greeted with full fervor and soon I could see Aunt Padma melt into the crowd of old acquaintances. I sat at a corner and observed. A person came and handed over a plateful of samosas and I munched the snack while listening to the conversation.
“Remember Padma, how we used to play hide and seek around that alley?” laughed an old lady, “My husband used to be so embarrassed with it!”
“I can still visualize those days when we played badminton across this street during the winter evenings!” mentioned another elderly man.
“The flavor of Gangu’s hot croquets still lingers in my mouth! He used to sell them on the footpath here! Padma, those were your hot favorites! We used to fight for the last pieces” mentioned Mrs. Savita with a smile.
I could see the happiness and cheer in Aunt Padma’s eyes as she re-lived the moments.
As we returned home, I could see an invigorated energy in Aunt Padma and felt good that she enjoyed her time. I went inside my room, changed my clothes and sat on the bed. A sudden fancy caught my imagination and I started to fiddle with my old belongings. The old wooden closet in my room is full of things from my childhood and I took them down, one by one, and relished them.
I found my old toys, my old textbooks (with secret scribblings), my drawing books and my scrapbook! With a heart full of excitement, I opened the scrapbook and flipped through the pages. There were many fond memories pasted in those pages and immortalized with ink! My eyes scanned though them and I felt an emotional pinch.
At last, I arrived at a page with a plastic wrapper pasted on it. The print on the plastic read, “ALADIN – DARK CHOCOCATES”. My mind flew away many years back and I remember something. Baba used to get me these bars of dark chocolates from a store called “ARABIAN KNIGHTS DELICACY” in Little Colaba. I used to be fascinated with them! Even the flavor has somehow slipped away from my taste buds but I still remember how, even almost twenty-five years ago, crazy I was about those chocolates.
“What did you bring me Baba? Did you get those magical chocolates?” I used to ask with excitement.
What was Baba’s answer? I don’t quite remember now! His words have eroded away with the memories. I felt desperate to remember what he used to answer before handing over me the bar of dark chocolate! With a sudden urge, I decided to seek out the “ARABIAN KNIGHTS DELICACY”. I got up, got dressed and quickly came out from the house after bidding a hasty farewell to Aunt Padma.
It took me an hour to reach the location in Little Colaba. I remember the place because the store used to be adjacent to Baba’s office building. I didn’t know if the “ARABIAN KNIGHTS DELICACY” was still there after almost two decades. I looked around the corners of the road. Evening was drawing to a close and the sun was almost setting.
“This place has undergone a complete metamorphosis,” I wondered, “I hope I am able to find my destination!”
After roaming around for another twenty minutes, I was able to locate the “ARABIAN KNIGHTS DELICACY”! The once popular store, was now in ramshackle. The dilapidated walls and windows showed the poor condition of business. I felt bad at this sight.
“Do you have a bar of ALADIN DARK CHOCOLATE?” I asked without delay as I entered the shop. A thin old man, with an emaciated face stood beside me while the storekeeper (an equally old but fair complexioned man) looked at me with surprise.
“What did you ask?” the storekeeper enquired softly with a surprised expression, “Nobody has ever asked for it in the last ten years! I sold off the last few pieces a month ago to a caterer who wanted to make chocolate syrup! This man, standing beside you has come to collect a long due payment!”
“The ALADIN DARK CHOCOLATE factory has finally shut down”, lamented the man with the emaciated face, “We have withdrawn operations due to the meagre sale! However, I have this last piece left with me. I can give this to you! Please take it…”
I took the bar of dark chocolate, opened the wrapper and took a bite! The subtle flavor of the chocolate melted in my mouth and I remembered the beautiful taste! It brought back different memories that were there in my mind, locked within the chambers of my subconscious mind! The dark chocolate opened all windows and showered in the light of knowledge!
Like a flash of lightning, I remembered what Baba used to say… “Hocus Pocus magic show us; here is the Treasure for my Master!”
Tears rolled down from my eyes and I got out from the store, the “ARABIAN KNIGHTS DELICACY”! Nostalgia is indeed like a DARK CHOCOLATE. It makes us unique from every living being. I am happy, I could re-live that today and am able to immortalize it in my memoir forever!