Tuesday, 28 April 2009
With Spring in my steps (CsH)
With thanks to tauberfanlehar
"We'll gather lilacs in the Spring again" written by Ivor Novello is special to me for two reasons. For years, this tune which I once heard somewhere in my childhood had been floating in the back of my memory box. Perhaps I had heard it on the radio. Or maybe from a vinyl which my father played on our radiogram in our house at Pasir Panjang Road. As luck would have it, years later in the early 80s when I was having dinner with my neighbours, Pat and Harold Isaac in Brunei, they played this song from a collection of Ivor Novello's best hits. I was over the moon, it was like discovering a childhood friend. I managed to buy the same album during my wanderings in England and I play the record now and then for old time's sake.
Secondly, about 21 years ago when the other half and I were backpacking in India we heard this song again while travelling on the steam train to Ootacamund or Ooty. We had been travelling for weeks and almost on our last legs partly because of the heat and the travails of coping with the Indian Transport System. But also we were beginning to feel depressed at the inhumanity of man to his fellow-men and at the grim and unrelenting and widespread poverty in India. But more than this is the gap between the rich and the poor - which to me is quite obscene in the then 20th century. That I will talk about later.
This train to Ooty was an escape for us. We were sitting comfortably in the train, after a bit of scrambling for seats mind you, when we heard this very same song wafting through the train's steam clouds. Someone in the train must have picked it up from some radio station somewhere. We looked at each other in disbelief and tears were falling from Iain's eyes!!. The spouse has no great attachment to any particular flag or country because his childhood was very, very, nomadic. These were tears of relief and respite from the intolerable strain of travelling in India. For we were in our 40s and we chose to keep away from the upmarket mode of touring India. Physically we could handle the journey, but our spirits were quite demoralised at what we observed and experienced in this country - the world's largest democracy.
Hence the beauty of this song. On the coach from Heathrow to Leicester, we could feast our eyes on the yellow gorse along the motorway, the yellow carpet of fields of rapeseed. I was too late for the daffodils. But when we got home, Jack, our dear friend gave me a bunch of white and yellow jonquils and daffodils, bluebells, and purplish red tulips from his garden . As for the lilacs, we'll have to take a little walk to enjoy their fragrance.
After 6 months absence, it's so good to be back in my little terrace house set amidst Leicester's multi-cultural, working class district. The workers at the local Co-Op, the butcher, the greengrocer are all from different parts of the Indian sub-continent like Gujarat, Punjab, Bangla Desh. But the volunteers working in my favourite shop, Leicester Animal Rescue are all English.
Only 2 days ago, the doorbell rang, the spouse opened the door to 2 young Caucasian Mormon evangelists. Before they could utter a word, the spouse told them in a friendly way, "I better warn you lads, you won't get far with me. I'm a Muslim." I wish I could have seen their faces. They then asked, "Where are you from?" The answer given was "Hereford .... England." Next question, "How long have you been a Muslim?" Answer : "Longer than you have been a Christian." Several other questions followed, they were really trying hard these kids. You have to give them credit for that. In the end they gave up and they left with best wishes of "Good-bye, God go with you" from the spouse. This very non-white area has become good hunting ground for evangelists from various shades of Christianity partly because they have given up on the indigenous population of England - who are seen as beyond redemption. It's more rewarding for them to harvest souls from Hindu and Muslim believers.
But for all the joy of being back in England - this is where I really belong - this call always pulls at my heart and soul.
With thanks to Truly Unforgettable