It is leaning SO MUCH…It should fall down at once! How does it stay LIKE THIS??”
I was in 5th grade and I had seen a photo of the leaning Tower of Pisa for the very first time in my social studies text-book. For the next 2-3 years I had kept asking the above question to every knowledgeable looking elder I met. I had found that photo absolutely surprising and I hardly believed it to be true! I was so curious about this mystery of the leaning tower, I HAD TO SEE it for real and CHECK THE FACTS for myself!!
As years passed, I learnt new subjects and started taking interest in new things of life. Gradually, I lost all my interest in the tower; I started giving just a passing look to its pictures in magazines and books. I guess it happens to all – We tend to completely forget something we crave and fantasize about desperately as a child.
Interestingly, in all these past years, I never happened to watch any video footage of the tower, not even accidentally… Neither on travel channels nor in movies… Not also on internet, even during my preparations for the Italy tour!
So, basically, I had seen this famous wonder of the world only in pictures. And today, I was going to see it directly, live, with my own eyes. But I was not excited! My curiosity about the tower had been forgotten long enough…
Yes, I did “value” the fact that I was going to visit a very“important monument of my Italy trip” that day, and so during my journey from Florence to Pisa, I sincerely but mechanically read whatever material I had with me about the history of the tower.
How sad…as we grow up, we start “valuing” things so much, sometimes even at the cost of not savoring those things simply for what they are…In fact, we end up running the risk of losing their very “value”!
After reaching Pisa, I got off the bus and reached the site. Surprisingly, I still did not recall my once upon a time curiosity about the tower. I just started to walk casually towards the main entrance of the site.
It must be a distance of few feet from the entrance gate of the site when I got the first glimpse of the tower. Actually, the way the three main monuments are located there, you see the Cathedral first, the tower is behind it. But, it is no ordinary tower, it is leaning…so, from this distance it looks like it is trying to see you, even before you try to see it! It literally does a peek a boo from behind the cathedral…
So basically, the first thing I saw was not the tower itself, but, the fact that it was, well, leaning…
And Voila! The next moment was absolutely miraculous, one, which would forever be frozen in my heart and my mind…
In this moment,as if by some magic, the dust of all the past years got brushed off all of a sudden, and I got transported back in memory, to my 5thgrade…I saw in front of me a very old photo of the tower.
Accompanied by some text in large fonts, it was a grainy, low quality, black & white photo in my social studies textbook!
The first thing I uttered in this magical moment was –“Finally!”
My own expression surprised me, in fact, it confused me. We use “Finally!” when we reach some particular moment after a long and desperate wait…but as long as I remembered, this was not the case that day!
But I realized soon enough, that this “Finally” was coming straight from that forgotten corner of my heart… after those 2-3 childhood years of living in awe of the leaning tower and wishing to check its truth for myself, I had done it,“Finally”… And yes, it was for real, it was not falling down indeed!
My sheer happiness was so pure, so innocent, so rare…perhaps, only availed to some 5thgrader…
I would define this as the cutest but the most meaningful moment of my whole Italy trip. And I thank god for letting me experience it… for if I had not, there would have been no meaning of having visited this most famous Symbol of Italy, of knowing its rich construction history, of having those pretty travel photos for the personal album…of having to take pride of the fact that I have SEEN the leaning tower of Pisa.
For the rest of my life, I will cherish my visit to the leaning tower for what matters the most-It made me meet a forgotten part of my own self, once again.
It was so hard to believe that I had forgotten my childhood curiosity for the tower so badly. But then, the journey of life is like this only, it makes you forget your dearest of dreams sometimes, it is not always the same, and it is not perfect.
But I did not mind, this journey had also brought me to the best example of imperfection (The leaning tower of Pisa) I have seen so far, one, which also made me realize that God remembers all our dreams, even the ones we forget…
P.S: Of all the Pisa Tower photos that I brought back with me from Italy, the best one is that old, grainy, low-quality, black & white one! :)
Images & Article © 2012 Gyaneshwari Dave