Anyone who has ever read Enid Blyton would have come across pork pies, chocolates, sandwiches, marmalade, ginger beers and lemonade. Book after book described sun-kissed picnic lunches or clandestine midnight feasts that were enough for an 8 year-old girl in India to imagine an exotic foreign land with golden glorious girls binging on food that was unheard of.
Among the delicacies, sardine sandwich was my favourite. Maybe there was a poetic ring to the name but I just loved the taste of sardine sandwiches on a hot afternoon with a sip of lemonade to wash it down. Somehow mom’s lemonade at home didn’t match up to what the famous five were drinking (sorry mom!) But it was the sardine sandwich that I craved for, promising myself that I would have one when I grow up.
Needless to say I was very disappointed a few summers later when I figured out that the sardine sandwich was actually fish clubbed between two slices of bread. Being vegetarian, I realized that I would never be able to taste the summer that lay in a bite of that sandwich.
I grew up that day because along with that disappointment was a sense of euphoria. Maybe it was good in a way because nothing could ever match the taste of that sardine sandwich in my head. Not even close. Instead, I feel had I tasted the actual sandwich, I would have lost so much more especially the rose-tinted memories of a childhood curled up in bed reading a book.
And it got me thinking that maybe our desires and our ambitions, our dreams are so much beautiful than the actual realization of it. Once we have something we have always wanted, we don’t even stop to savour it. We just move on to the next desire…always remaining thirsty and hungry.
And maybe that’s the reason people say enjoy the journey while it lasts because the destination is never as gratifying as the ups and downs of the travails that lead you there. Imagining a holiday is so much more satiating than actually going on one. Imagining being famous is so much more goose bump-inducing than working hard for it and reaching that famed spot tired and wondering what you are doing there in the first place.
It’s like revisiting an old photograph from your childhood. All haloed-out, all sepia-tinted, all smiling faces conveniently forgetting the fight that happened minutes before the photograph was captured. Or the turning away of faces as soon as it was clicked. Sometimes, I think real life is in between these photographs that we click, when we are not smiling at strangers all the time.
For once, I am glad that that sardine sandwich is out of reach and out of my palate forever. Because it tastes of an immortalized dream.