Bridging past and present

Bridging past and present

There are days when I have so much to say and the words just don’t come forth the way I want. So I do the next best thing. I go back and read things I have already written, hoping they will trigger something that needs to be said.

Usually I read my older blog posts and occasionally I glance at those Facebook memories and smile (sometimes cringe) at the snippets from the past that I have shared with my world.

But today, I found a trigger in the most unexpected of places: My e-mail inbox. 




It was while I was looking for a cab receipt that my eye idly glanced at the storage limit mentioned at the bottom of the page. With a start I noticed that I’d used up 13 GB of my 15 GB space! How on earth did I manage to do that? Man, I must write a lot! Or take many photos. Or maybe I have people who send me large attachments. What can I say? I’m popular (*sarcasm alert!).

One of the ways to de-clutter your inbox when it’s overflowing is to find files that are larger than, say, 10 MB and filter them out. While doing this, a series of mails with photographs popped up and as I opened each one, a flood of memories was unleashed. Before I knew it, an entire hour had passed while I went back and re-read each mail, savouring the effect it had upon me.

Scrolling through the images was akin to looking at a much-loved photo album, after dusting it off from the corners of a forgotten wardrobe. After a while I began to read the e-mails that went with the photos and found something even more precious.

Catalogued details of my pregnancy, my baby shower and the birth announcement of my daughter.


In that instant, I paused,took a deep breath and allowed myself to soak up the moments as they tumbled out of the confines of my weighty mail folders. Quickly, I keyed in the words ‘Shailaja’ and ‘pregnancy’ and watched as the screen lit up with every exchange I had ever had with friends and family on the joy of welcoming a new soul into our lives.

Within the span of an hour, my eyes crinkled up in laughter or crumpled with grateful tears at the words of every soul who had congratulated me. Some family members who delighted in the announcement and who wrote to me are no longer with us and it felt like a squeeze of the arteries as I re-read some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

Friends who sent messages of love and shared broken stories of their own, since they were unable to conceive tugged at that maternal corner of my soul. Others who kept in touch regularly back then but have now faded into the disquietude and rigour of modern life prompted me to look them up to see what they were doing today.

It was also a very sombre exercise as I realised that it’s been 10 years since I’d received these mails and there they were, safely tucked away to be retrieved years later. This was before Facebook had taken over or Twitter had started to hold sway so e-mail was the ideal way to keep in touch. Long, loving mails that captured the essence of joy and happiness one person feels for another- this made for wonderful reading.

It was with complete astonishment that I realised Gy will turn 10 this year. Ten. That seems like such a big leap into another decade. A decade is a lot when you think about it. We grow old, we make new friends, we break it off with some of the old, we evolve as people, succeed in some ventures, fail miserably at the rest.

And in the quiet of the night, as I read these missives of love, longing, gratitude and empathy, somewhere it struck me that these are precious. These bridges of love that connect the past with the present, are more relevant than we know. Through them I hope to re-connect with that me from 10 years ago and tap into the vibrant, excited mom-to-be who looked forward to the entire parenting game with anticipation and excitement.

On the days when I feel frustrated, annoyed and completely fed up of having my daughter roll her eyes at me, stand her ground in defiance or walk away from me in an argument, these e-mails from the past will remind me that I was chosen to walk this path of motherhood.

There’s no other place I would rather be.

What keeps you connected to the past? Care to share?


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0 thoughts on “Bridging past and present

  1. Photos — they just keep me occupied for hours. Some hard copy albums, some picasa albums online and sometimes even on some protected FB albums. And of course the blog posts. So many of them document the kids'antics, my tales of my family, Coco, my siblings and parents. Oh I just continue reading and re-reading them. A nice nostalgia-filled post, Shy.

  2. For me it's my blog that keeps me connected to the past. Going back and reading old posts is so much fun and so heartening sometimes when you realise what a long way you've come. I wish I'd written more. Photographs bring back amazing memories too. Though I miss those big black photo albums – the kind my parents made for us. The ones we could flip through at leisure.

  3. What keeps me connected to the past? Well most of the times I think I only think of the past, yearning for those happy memories of carefree existence! I deliberately keep away from digging out old albums and such….because it sends me into a tizzy or into long brooding spells. Loved reading about your brush with past happy memories – somethings are meant to be cherished for life, motherhood being one of them! Time flies too fast especially with childhood! Enjoy these wonder years my dear 🙂

  4. Photos, mails, journals, all those chat exchanges and some blogposts. And like you said they were days in the past when I used to visit them now n them. But these days running behind life usually take away those little moments.

    Loved your post. You gave me an urge to go back and revisit my memories. Thank you <3

  5. This is so touching. I often do this, scroll and read things that I've posted/received long time back. Sometimes, I make sure that few things should stay safely in my email inbox fearing that I'd lose them if my computer crashes by chance!

    Good memories are special and precious. I love some lonely moments to embrace them.

    Blessings for Gy. Best wishes, always…:)

  6. Ahhh, the past, I have a post planned around this, but don't know if I will write it down. Something's been nagging me (in a nostalgic, but not unpleasant way) and once I frame it all well, I'll write it down.
    The other day, my son found our wedding albums and was excitedly going through them. The husband and I had a good laugh about the two of us looking rather malnourished (this one's just me) and confused in all the pics 😛

  7. Yes it can be quite an experience to read through past emails. I have some special ones saved from decades ago – exchanges between sisters, between father and daughter, between a teacher and a student. In fact once I thought of writing a small little book based on some of those emails that had to do with a specific happening in our family's life. But didn't. Who knows what the future will bring?
    I especially like the way you end this post.

  8. Amazing post, Shailaja. I love always adore old photos, messages, greeting cards, my son's drawing and scribbles, mu hubby's songs for me ….. and much more …… makes and making my life beautiful……

  9. Ahh yes, I know the feel of reading old emails. In fact, I even made a separate folder in my gmail account to collect all the cherished conversations :).

    And yes they were before FB-twitter era. I used to email my cousins and grandparents regularly, but sadly we don't do that anymore.

    This was a nice read!

  10. What keeps me connected to the past? Memories of my past that I have tucked away safely in my mind. Memories that come to my rescue when the present becomes unpleasant and scary. Memories of the distant past that are still as fresh as today's lilies! Ah! But don't ask me what I had for lunch today! I won't be able to remember THAT! 🙂

  11. Thank you Kala. There is something reassuring about old albums and old emails. They put me in touch with a quieter me as well as a more excited me. Some days I find that I am just numb and don't feel anything. That's not a good place to be.

  12. Emails. yes. My age has gotten too addicted to texting and that weird lingo, to enjoy the simplicity and beauty of a long, touching personal letter via email.
    I really envy your generation, because you all always could make time to sit down, and express feelings and communicate with each other, in length and at depth. We teenage gits express emotions and feelings to one another by posting “Teenage Posts” on the net, and sharing and liking them. 😀

  13. Such nostalgic words still have a positive effect on us, I am so sure. It seems like yesterday only and I've kept my old yahoo ID to preserve them, be it mails or photographs:)
    The distant and eluding past seems like yesterday only.

  14. I hear you on the computer crashing! Lot of my key data is not stored on the cloud in multiple locations so I always have a backup. This includes my manuscript as well. Good memories make for wonderful moments 🙂 Thank you for the blessings.

  15. Teenage gits, ha ha ha. I think you do a fairly good job of it though 😉 I am sad that even we don't make time to write long e-mails. Mostly, we're dashing off quick replies and hopping on to the next bandwagon. Sigh.

  16. The post made me teary eyed. Oh yes, I can become emotional at the drop of a hat. When I came across this blog of yours last year for the first time, the voice inside me spoke (it speaks a lot, though I don't) to me – this is what I should aim to build up over the next years, memories with my son to look back at and be grateful for.

  17. Aww thank you Anamika. I am so glad our paths crossed. I know we need to make more of an effort to stay connected with our kids today thanks to myriad distractions around. Let's pledge to build memories and lots of them 🙂

  18. Pictures and old emails. I was talking to an childhood friend recently and we were discussing his time in London. And we remembered how he used to write us all mails, so that we never lost touch when he was there. And then we spent an hour or so reading those mails. So much nostalgia, so many memories and a load of emotions.

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