Author: Ten Para.
Once upon a time I was a child and my parents never believed I was a child. Now, I am a parent/adult and my children refuse to believe I am either an adult or a parent. Somethings never change!
This is a series of midnight ramblings to my children, maybe the only time I can talk to them and pretend they are listening. Some of this falls in the realm of fiction, some may fall in the realm of non-fiction and some could even be placed under the heading of “truth” (that header has a mirror). However, there are no insights.
Call me Stun, Sujt Stun.
Let me tell you of a time when I was a child and actually going to school, yes, the way you do. I know you might find it hard to believe, but yes, I did go to school. Yes, a real school, bricks and mortar, other children, younger and older and perhaps a waddle of penguins too. Life was simple in those days and measured in “school time”. School time was a simple measure that most parents swore by in those days. Often, a statement followed by a sigh. “Time for school to reopen” – Happy sigh. “Time for school to close” – Terrified sigh. “Wake up, go to school” – Relieved yet worried sigh. “Go to sleep, you have school tomorrow” – Dancing sigh.
Summer doesn’t sneak upon you. It comes waltzing in with a sheaf of exam papers. Sweat dots my brow, under a ceiling fan that refuses to turn, and if it does turn, sings an old melancholic tune that will make you love even classical music. Wide open windows, green mangoes giggling at you, that swing that creaks when you sit on it but swings merrily when no one sits on it, a crow that looks at you and wonders “Time has changed, even this child goes to school”. Summer, when the sun is your friend. The sun who gives you the freedom to run around, but also drives you home to drink cool buttermilk. Chillies, curry leaves, mint, basil, pepper, rock salt. Froth on the top, froth on my lips. White moustaches are summer’s speciality.
Summer: when you hide behind the curtain or under the bed as you hand your mark sheets to your father. Just your hand holding the mark sheets visible. You hear your father vibrate (mother has already hidden the kitchen) and the inevitable growl, “you could have done better”. You wait patiently because you know that will be followed by the inevitable lecture on genes, environment, and gene environment interactions. Silence. Then there is a giggle from the master and followed by a sigh, “Go and play. Play till school reopens. Don’t dare to even look at your school books”.
Freedom! Here I come mangoes. Raw, green, yummy and sliced. Sprinkled with a blend of salt and chilly powder. Eat in small bites, eat in big bites, chuck the entire fruit piece down your throat if you dare! Lick the salt and chilly, then gasp as you eat the slice. Lick all the slices so only you can eat it and watch in awe as everyone follows suit. “Hmm”, the mouthful of taste that are mangoes. Who cares, when life revolves around the mango tree in the heat of summer. Time can stand still. There is no TV, no radio, no music players, no I pads, no readers, no nothing. Just you, the sky, the ground, leaves, mangoes (of course) and the ants that wonder why Gulliver has come visiting. Have you ever counted stars in a daytime sky? Have you watched the clouds to see how they cough and sneeze? Have you noticed the poop of a bird as it flies over you?
The ten o’clock flower blooms only at 10 am. A small plant almost like a shrub, adorned with pink and white flowers. The four o’clock flower blooms only at 4pm. Small shrub like plants with white and pink flowers. You lie on the mango tree and keep time. You know it is lunch time when your nostrils flare (not with the rage of Lakshman but with the love of Ram) and all that your brain registers is the swimming and dancing spices. The tree tries to hold you, “here is another mango” it seems to coo. Your body now has a brain of its own, running legs that you can see have outrun your mind. Then there is lunch on a banana leaf. How does the sambhar reach your chest? Ah, how did the Ganges reach the earth?
A full stomach, trailing legs, crumbs of food hidden behind your ears…lumbering up the mango tree. It sulks. “You left me for another”, it accuses me. The food speaks from the nether of my body “But the other was eaten completely and will be thrown out tomorrow. You shall still survive” Sadly, metaphysics is not my strength. I sleep, till dusk drives me home.
The night is about board games – Ludo, Chinese checkers, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly. Us playing with cardboard and plastic till dinner.
Time was still. There were no activity classes to go to, no being ferried here and there, no apps, no gadgets, no nothing. Food, trees, birds, sky, earth, sleep. Sing and dance as you like.