If there’s one thing about my childhood that I cherish, it’s the endless sea of tea plantation and me trying to stand straight on a sloping ground that’s more slippery than a bathtub.
I like to think I had happy summers and Christmases there in the Nilgiri where an uncle of mine owned a tea estate. Every time school closed for a holiday we’d pack up our trunks, pick up a truck, and head up the hills. And no matter how many times we’d been up there, round and round the hairpin bends, squashing against each other at steep curves, and spilling juice all over the seats, the trip would be filled with fun and laughter. Plus, when we cousins got together, we’d just hang around and find reasons to drink more tea than usual.
It was a simpler time when ego was unheard of, and adolescent mood swings were in the unseeable future. My uncle’s house was set deep inside an estate, and we’d often take walks around the house exploring unkempt trees and unfamiliar plants. We’d find a new fruit each day only to hear from the well-trained estate folk that we’d discovered poisonous plants. We’d run around barefoot and come home crying with a bruised knee and a guilty-looking cousin. And our biggest problem was coming back before the bears got to us.
But then we got older. What once seemed impossible became the ugly reality. We had grown up, and in the process, lost our innocence to society’s poison that our estate friends failed to warn us about. We drifted apart, seeking joy in movies rather than the open lands. We once walked into dense nature just to live the moment, but as our hair grew, so did our passion for attention, and our attraction to selfies. We are cousins who don’t even visit each other anymore. Some of us married, some happy, some looking, and some others still finding joy in brewing tea.
Life doused our faces with reality, yet the memories linger of a childhood worth cherishing.