Hide and seek, lock and key, chain-chain, these are games from my childhood that I played with my friends. I would rush down prompt at 5 pm and play until dusk. Sometimes we’d sit down in a circle to play games with a handkerchief and chant rhymes to go with our games. We rode cycles endlessly and skated all over the driveway. We had no knee pads and no helmets, but we fared alright. Twilight brings many such memories from my childhood that take me back to those sun kissed days. Scars from scraped knees are all that remain, dulled over the passage of time.
When my son was born 9 years ago I started clearing the cobwebs from these memories. One by one the memories unraveled, bringing back these treasures to me. With each stage of his childhood I relive my own. It’s like waking up from a long sleep and meeting an old friend, lost somewhere in the process of growing up.
We stayed in a small town and changed houses quite a few times, but it never took us more than a few days to make friends in every new place. Staying in a small town meant we had a big garden, a drive and a terrace, lots of space to run about cycle, skate and play cricket. When our legs got tired of running around, we would plop down on the soft grass and quench our thirst from the garden tap. No filter needed. Hot summer evenings found us jumping in the water splashing from the garden hose or lying flat on cool grass under the shade of the garden trees. We had a big white swing in the garden and we loved to pile onto it together. Then swing it with all our might, singing songs in delight! The cricket ball would invariably go over the boundary to the house next door and then there was the fight about who will go to get the ball. Because you see the house next door was a big bungalow with a huge front and back garden. It had not been lived in for many years and so the gardens had over grown like a mini jungle. It was the fountainhead of many a fantasy stories. We imagined all kinds of ghosts and creatures living there and never dared to go inside the gates. We had dares about how far one could go in and how many minutes one could survive in there. None of us ever dared to venture beyond the gardens, let alone ever enter the house! Until one day when we found that a family had bought the bungalow and were would soon be coming to live there. They had a little girl about our age and we soon became friends. We tried to scare her with our ghost stories about her house but she was a brave heart. She even invited us to her house and there ended our fantasies and the drama!
But we soon found new avenues to weave stories and the fantasy never ended. If we wanted to meet our friends we would go up to their house or stand outside their house / under their window and holler! Unlike today, when my son fixes up play-times with his friends over conference calls on the society intercom!
Although I must say that I am lucky to live in a neighbourhood where kids have a small place to play, quite a luxury given the sparse urban spaces available. I hope he is able to make memories that last him a lifetime. Memories of scarped knees, spooky houses and broken bikes.
Theme for this post is ‘Nostalgia‘
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