ONE of my most vivid childhood memories and one I will always treasure is that of the awesome Nandi hills in the distance.
I accepted those hills as part of my landscape and grew to love the evenings, when back from school, studying subjects I couldn’t staunch, I gazed at those mighty peaks in the distance and felt the restful calm they gently extended back to my troubled mind across the many miles that stretched twixt us.
It was in an old Ambassador car with an aunt and uncle who had come down from the Americas and who wanted to give our family a day out, in which I finally got to visit those lofty friends of mine.
The road was long and the hills were steep. I sat by the window, silent, shivering with delight and also with some apprehension as the old car climbed up the steep mountainside. But it seemed as if the hillocks knew well their little friend and offered me glimpses of lush green hillsides and soothing valleys to quieten and still my worried mind.
And on top of those hills, what I remember so clearly is not Tippu Sultan’s Drop, from which I was told he dropped English prisoners to their death below, nor the monkeys who were there in every tree and one who chased me when I threw an orange at him, but with a twinge of sadness, the strong arms of my father.
Those arms reached down to a little boy who was suddenly petrified of heights and also small chasms and gorges which the hills had in plenty.
My father picked me up, put me across his broad shoulders and stepped confidently across those frightening spaces. Never, did he make me feel ashamed of myself, nor ever rebuked me for being afraid.
Today over twenty years since he passed away, I remember those hills and those strong arms carrying a fragile, petrified me. I visited my old home a few years ago but no more are the hills visible. The city has a smoke screen now, which hides the hills from those that try to glimpse them many miles away.
A play of mine may soon be put up in the city of my childhood and I plan to visit that old house of mine, and from there I will stand and remember those comforting hills, and what they meant to me.
Even now, thousands of miles away I can still see those hills in my mind’s eye, and still feel my father’s strong arms.
A verse from the Holy Scriptures soothes my mind: ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, From whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.’ Yes, like my earthly father, another Father, divine, does the ‘carrying’ I need..!