My childhood was carefree unknown to what is happening around. The childhood in mid 70’s was full of life enjoying outdoors. No TV, Internet or video games.
In summer we used to play all sort of games; Kabaddi, Cricket, Football, Tag, hide and seek etc. This was the season of the marriages thus it was a heaven on earth for the kids. Each marriage fest use to last for ten days. No elders around, no rok-tok. Fun use to last the whole day. I very well remember sneaking out sweets and chutneys from the cooking pandals. I still remember the day of my MAMA’s marriage. I was 7 years old. The week before the marriage we were playing the catch ball. It was a hot afternoon and all the elders were having their siesta. The ball went onto the roof of the mandap. I managed to get the long stick to poke it underneath to slide it out. But, unfortunately it was a broken brick of the size of a ball. I hurt my forehead. I was unaware till I saw the blood oozing out badly. I was scared and didn’t want to tell my parents. My entire shirt was filled with blood stains. Slowly I managed to sneak into the backyard and wanted to reach the well to wash the stains and change my shirt. But, I was caught in the mid-way by my MAUSI. She saw the blood was oozing out badly from my head. She pulled me into the kitchen and applied the tea dust onto the wound. It was a magic. The blood stopped oozing. She wiped my blood stains, changed the shirt and voila! back to the game.
In monsoon season the common fun was rain dance. Other games were tops (lattoo), Biking, playing board games, making paper boats and those boat competitions in the streams. The most fun was to roll the bicycle rims. I enjoyed rolling them and the rolling competitions. The best festival was GANESH chaturthi. The festival goes on for 10 days and filled with fun and frolic. I still remember one of the occasion. We were living in society. I with my friends made the statue of Ganesha and kept it for 10 days at the entrance of the society. We all were just 10 year old kids. We got good amount of donations from elders. We use to buy sweets and distribute them as “prasad”. On the 10th day we went with the procession for idol immersion. It was fun, the chanting, the dance, the dhol and the colours. The best food in monsoon was ‘roti and achar’. Keeping the ‘achar’ piece and sucking onto it was amazing.
The winter was one my favourite month for the fun. Why? NAVRATRI, DASHERA, DIWALI, SANKRANTI, MAKAR-SANKRANTI and the MAHA-SHIVARATRI. This is the full festive season for every Indian. I was in Gujarat so the Navratri is one of my favourite festival. Imagine those 10 days of dandiya and dancing. Other busy portion of that month was the Ramayana drama and the DASHERA. The entire ground used to get fully packed. People use to flock from far off to watch this event of burning the Ravana. Immidiately the preperations for Diwali begins. Sweets, Crackers and Diya’s in Diwali. I enjoyed cracking the bombs and firing the rockets. As soon as the Diwali is over the preparations for the SANKRANTI begins. My best hobby was kite flying. It is still close to my heart. Imagine staying on the terrace and the roof tops, with ‘til ka laddoos’ for the entire day during all those Sundays. Flying the kites, competing with the friends, and when you ran out of the kite you are on the move to catch the “kati-patang’. I have many memories of this festival, but the most interesting one was that on the Sankranti, in Andhra they call it ‘Bogi”. The boys go on a hunt to collect the wood the night befor the Bogi. We went to one of the house, there was lot of collection of the firewood. The owner was a prick. Kids didn’t like him and was ill famous in the village. We managed to sneak into the compound and take out the wood. One of the boys went greedy and wanted more. Suddenly there was a rumble in the pile and the owner was awake. He woke up and we all started running. But the greedy boy was caught and got a beating. But somehow he managed to get out of his hold and we all were running like crazy. We even fell into the trench. We promised not to narrate this any anybody. We all learned a valuable lesson on that day. We slept only for two hours and the next day at 4:00 am we all took the bath and went to the pyre. We offered our ‘mala’ to the pyre. It is a belief that by burning this ‘mala’ you get rid of entire ‘papa’.
Then arrives the spring, the harvesting season. The most vibrant season of the BAISAKHI, HOLI, and YUGADI. This is entirely a different season for fun. You get new clothes, again after the Diwali festival. It is hard to put in words, the ambience, the fervour and the mood of that day. You visit everybody’s house, it doesn’t matter if you know them or not, to wish a happy Holi. In return they wish you hug you and offer sweets, and then they join you. By the afternoon it is big gang, assemble at the club for the remaining part of the festive part, the dance and singing. I like the ‘gidda’ part the best. As a kid this is the one festival when we can approach the girls, as they cannot reject us, to put the ‘gulal’ on them. But, some people abuse this festival too. I remember one incident when a teenage boy tore the shirt of the girl. The girl had to run away and nobody said anything to that boy. But the girl came back after changing her clothes and teamed up with other girls and tore the clothes of the boy. The boy was so ashamed as he was just left with his undies. He got his lesson.
And the school ends in April and the Summer fun begins. The entire year is filled with fun and festive mood. No grudges.
Now, at this age it is all locked up in the box. The worst part is there is no key to open it again. Sadly, I came to know that the kids of this generation don’t have the fun which we had. They least play outdoors, and are mostly on the video games, computer games or watching TV. This they call it the next-gen fun. Secondly, they are engrossed with studies, fierce completion for grades and lots of homework from school and tuition. During our time we used go to tuition classes only in high school, that also only for Science and Mathematics. But, now the kids go to tuition for all the courses. It is like double schooling. I wonder what is the necessity of school if a kid has to go to tuition classes. Something is terribly wrong.
||namo Bhaartam, namO Sanskritam||