The term nostalgia describes a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. The word is a learned (nóstos), meaning “homecoming”, a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning “pain, ache”, and was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. Described as a medical condition—a form of melancholy—in the Early Modern period, it became an important trope in Romanticism. In common, less clinical usage, nostalgia can refer to a general interest in the past, their personalities, and events, especially the “good old days” from one’s earlier life.
(appearing in the order received)
1) Devina Singh (127)
The morning of my vidai I was smiling and laughing away while the rest of my family, were crying. I did break down though once while in the embrace of my sister and looking at my brother’s mischievous smile. It was at that moment that I realized that my childhood is over.
I had already begun missing the afternoon cookery show, the WWE fights, the spotlight conversations, hide and seek, Rakhi… and other memories. Today I get reminded of something that my mother used to say when the three of us used to fight with each other that one day we would want to meet and won’t be able to.
It’s been 8 months since the three of us have been together and I only have nostalgia.
2) Frank (113)
(in memoriam Bill and Eva Wood)
no one believed I´d go back
“it was only a summer
over twenty years ago”
how could they know
it has never ended
“don´t resurrect old dreams,
time turns white horses
in their eyes you´ll look like
a spitting image
of the boy you used to be”
but even now
I can hear my cousin´s piano,
my aunt and uncle are on the terrace
with drinks in their hands,
we´re all mirrored
in that lake up
in the Smoky Mountains
we all can´t stop talking
and I can´t stop looking
at the home I never had
but always knew
was there, today.
3) Konfessioner Singh (118)
furry ear tips
horse sweaty leather denim
dew settling on proud tiny shoulders
mist cooling our burning nostrils
racing little girl mind
of certain futures
no, never dreams
while trotting 1-2-1-3.
Her neck a maple sea
of warm ripples
paintbrush sharp mane
my little flat palm offering fresh jaggery
her eyes swallowing mine
orbs I drew over
that white star
the cup of her
the sudden ridge
metallic jaggery froth
velveting my heart
sacred olive tree;
first love, friend, cherished dream…
a first promise,
from the imaginings
4) Sheikha A (94)
of the forgotten world’s
untold futures air tight
to show those sealed
as dromedaries of a past
earned no grave,
having taken the whip
on their backs
while pulling wheels
upon dented shoulders;
clouded with cobwebs
in a language had best
known to them wildebeest
Leaf slowly, the book
while your nose twitches
and eyes intrigue
from the yellow between
of fresh excavations,
fetching a prize
of plausible histories,
pungent but profitable
5) Richa Gupta (120)
The pages flutter as his rheumatoid fingers try to hold them steady. He peers through his thick lenses. The words he has read over and over again. Words he never tires of reading. These are the letters from his son. Letters from boarding school, from trips, from college and a few from his new job. Letters full of life. The letters had started dwindling as years went by. The last letter was 4 years ago. Now it was once a month phone call. He hears the strains of the song “zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo mukaam…. Woh phir nahi aate” as he slowly shuffles to answer the door bell, “Surprise” his son laughs and hugs him!
6) Nandini Sen (118)
Subhash: “Fancy meeting you here Gupta uncle. Please come home with me. Dadaji will be ecstatic meeting his friend after ages. Infact today is Dadaji’s “Nostalgia Night”. Every Friday he insists on gorging on tea & pakoras and watching Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor films. We try to indulge him on his nostalgic trip.”
A very curious Guptaji visited Dadaji
Guptaji: “Bhai, what is this sham of living in old times. I remember you hated pakoras, didn’t drink tea and didn’t have time to watch films. What are you re living?”
Dadaji: “Work enveloped me then. Now, with loads of free time, I want to be nostalgic about the life I never lived, revisit the past I never had.”
7) Nikhil Mahajan (73)
The boat rocked as the water ran amok…
The ocean wailed in lustful cacophony…
The dreams we saw never quite turned true…
The sky ran deep, in a wild hue at times, at times in a solemn rue…
An odd nostalgia filled my lungs as I smoked a fresh cigarette…
Her breath on my neck, my heart fluttered with her drifting scent…
Love swayed gently with the ocean wind, the water stood still.
8) Mohit Parikh (120)
When Shruti and I would sleep on mummy’s lap, she would cover our
heads with her dupatta. They felt warm and safe, and smelt just like her. I would often open mummy’s wardrobe and take those colourful rectangular pieces of fabric out, just to smell and kiss them.
Now that mummy insists that Shruti put one on when there are guests at home or when she goes out for tuitions, I feel confused. (Shruti has suddenly grown tall and got breasts and I have to be careful while punching her.) Now when I notice a dupatta hanging loose by a chair or a door-knob, I try not to think about it. I am too young to live in nostalgia.
9) Somya (119)
I woke up hearing the noises. They shattered my dream – the same one of being back home – open skies, tall, green trees and the wind blowing in my face as I ran. My brothers and sisters chasing each other as my mother tried disciplining us. The afternoons were usually spent snuggling with mom as she put me to sleep. It was so long ago that I now wonder if they remember me. I looked at Kira, my only friend in this new world. “Accept your situation Lira. All this nostalgia is of no use now”, she admonished. I sighed as I heard the noises again -look Ma, the tiger is looking at me. What a magnificent creature!
10) Coffee is my poison (110)
A glass of water…
Two sisters half asleep, aged 7 and 10years, 2AM :
“Didi, water, I’m so thirsty. Please, you’re the best…”
“Fine! Last time ever!”
“Thanks Didi… I love u.”
“Me too, but you owe me lots of water Kiddo!!”
20 years later:
A wave of nostalgia washed over her as she heaved her hugely pregnant body off the bed at midnight to fetch a glass of water to soothe her parched throat.
Where were you baby sister? When had your love turned to such loathing for me, who would even today give up her sleep, her very life if it would make you smile just once more.
11) Kunal Sen (120)
When we were together, she was of that age when even her ears were sweet. She walked about the house making drawings of burkha-clad women in her feral-girl unhappiness and pulled-back windswept hair on albino-white skin that set off eyes of different sizes, like Leonor Varela in ‘The Tailor of Panama’. When she kissed me in the mornings, a bit of her Nivea cold cream and jam-sweetened breath stayed back on my lips and made me smile when I later awoke. When we went out, we were cinemascope, we were surround-sound, we were Belmondo and Seberg and we wore hats and I put my arm around her neck as we trawled the markets of Gariahat and shopped for aquariums.
12) Sarang Mahajan (120)
A squeaky bicycle – loud bell blaring – zooms through empty streets on a quiet afternoon.
The bell hushes. Breathing rises. The cycle lies down. Ahead is the broken house at the end of the colony. Its roof-less, jagged walls hide the ultimate adventure.
Cautious steps enter… a hand rested on the fire-cracker gun. A scrawny dog awakens, ears perked. Submits before the gun, tail wagging. First threat conquered, the feet move in deeper.
Wind whistles through the broken, moss-covered walls here. The silence is eerie. But the guy is brave.
A wall is scaled to see if the height is jumpable yet. Nope. Anyway, the thieves aren’t there today. Perhaps, another day. The gun is holstered.
Soon, the bicycle leaves… victorious.
13) Sprinkles Of Chatter (87)
huddling over the table
offering you coffee,
and your fleeting touch
on my straying strands
of hair that escaped
into my eye.
you ordering a cookie
and crumbling it up
saving me a big piece
while I ate my sub
and dangling my feet
at the edge of the lake;
in a crowd
and you whispering
the shapes of floating clouds.
all our times
that has changed.
14) Rush.Me (120)
“Lekin mummy, even you never stopped me from coming home late at night, so how can I stop Nisha?”
“Beta, but our times were different, we did trust you, and we knew you wouldn’t do anything to break it!”
“Haan mummy, but isn’t it my responsibility to trust Nisha? If I don’t trust Nisha, then who would and even she won’t trust me back.”
“Beta, do you remember, the first time you took the Scooty to college, and while returning, you stopped to buy our favourite kachoris?”
“Haan mummy, you and papa were waiting at colony gate for me? How can I forget?”
“So, if we had stopped you from travelling, there won’t be any trust left, would it be?”
15) DokSaab (119)
Walking towards the Dissection Hall, wearing a full sleeved, white, starched apron, buttoned till neck, I was shaking with anxiety. I was told to look at the ‘third button’. Stories of ragging had reached long before the CPMT result.
I turned back. A senior was looking wickedly.
“So you think you’re a Dok, and it’s just your first day in college. What’s your name?”
“Sir……..” I stammered.
“Aha, ‘sir’! Your apron is too short, ‘Sir’. ‘Sir’, do you think this is a fashion show. Get a knee length apron. And where’s your tie, ‘Sir’?”
“Papa!” Nishtha’s voice dragged me out of the nostalgia trip. “Look at my apron, Paa, isn’t this too long. This is so un-cool!”
(16) Nidhi Balachandran (120)
The Long Wait to Nostalgia
Little pieces of my today
I wrap them up
in an oilcloth
For you, old me.
Each stolen kiss,
The walks by the Danube,
Quivering blades of grass,
Damp little raindrops;
Collection of nostalgic elements.
For there shall be a day,
when all that is, will be
Life’s ever elusive palpability
Shall catch up with me.
The today, as is revealed to us,
Shall be the nostalgia of our tomorrow.
So I invest myself in life today
To give to you,
Some “good old days” in that distant morrow.
The absence of life
shall bring pari passu
the propensity to nostalgize.
Until then, dear heart,
We have much living to do!
Entries not up for kompetition because of the word limit/reaching past deadline),
(17) Vineeta Shekhawat (162)
Nostalgia for me is about growing up in Jaipur. The memories of family, school and city are stacked up like painted cubist imagery. Ours was a large joint family with more than a dozen cousins for company! Our ancestral ‘haveli’-Malsisar House, always hummed with activity. The long hot desert summer afternoons were spent in my grandmother’s room, cooled with Khus curtains, stocked with ‘laddoos’ and an earthen pitcher full of cool Kevra scented water. All the cousins would gather there, indulge in endless prattle and play ‘chaupar’-a dice game.Entertainment was listening to film music on the radio with Binaca Geetmala being the high point of the week! At night everyone slept under the clear desert sky, gazing at the stars. At times there would be flocks of migratory birds flying homeward bound in the night sky!
This was the time one was living in the present -the future was a distant nebula and there was no past to be nostalgic about….
(18) Priyanka (103)
Nostalgia: Childhood fights with my brother, the big courtyard where we used to play, the bushy and tree-filled backyard, some old letters from my BFF, cards, handmade and bought, my 18 year old copy of Wuthering Heights, some photographs from school and college, innumerable memories in my head…some happy tears, some sad ones, some people who stayed, some who left…a past which built my present.. which is my GIFT…
Nostalgia: Wrapping up my 5 year old in my arms, and watching her infancy videos and photos, smiling and laughing with her.. taking this present to a better future.. to become nostalgic once more!!