When I was a child I was obsessed with playing. It never was enough. I played uninhibitedly with a group of friends during the primary stage of my schooling. Our most favored past time was playing house. We would collect bricks and each one would make a square with them for demarcation. There were many Neem (Azadirachta Indica ) trees around. Its fruit oval shaped and green served as a vegetable and a fruit. We would bring salt from our home and wet the Neem fruit with our saliva and after touching it with salt put it in our mouths, roll it inside till the salt was sucked in. This exercise would go on endlessly. The small branches of the Neem would be tied to act as a broom to do mock sweeping. Buying and selling transactions were also gone through with one of us acting as a vegetable vendor and the other as a buyer.
|cartoon courtesy: internet|
As we grew up, another diversion was added to our daily evening calendar. Skipping rope became our new favorite. A loosely suspended rope was held at its ends by two members of the group standing appropriately apart, who swung it in a circular motion. Other girls stood in a queue and would enter one by one when the rope went up and be prepared to jump when it came down and leave quickly for the next girl to take her turn at jumping. It was a single jump and extreme alertness was required to enter at the right moment. The skipper who failed to make it would hold the rope and the other girl would join the skippers. We played it for hours together because of the continuous excitement it generated.
Another one of which we were never tired of playing was ‘Hide and Seek.’ One of us would count up to stipulated ten or twenty with closed eyes while others would dash to hide under beds or behind cupboards, boxes and piles of wood in the courtyard. Our hearts would race when the seeker would be on the verge of locating but missed and in the end somebody would be found out to the spontaneous screams of joy emanating from all. The game would start all over again with the same enthusiasm and zest till late evening. We didn’t mind hiding in the dirtiest of places and neglected nooks and corners full of grime and dust. I marvel at my mother’s patience who would wash my soiled clothes clean without a hint of reprimand.
Later my insatiable desire to play discovered another outlet .I would sneak out after lunch when everybody was resting in summers. I would go out to a friend’s house that had a game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’ and played it to our heart’s content till evening .On reaching home mother would be very angry and slap me sometimes because she wanted me to lend her a helping hand in looking after my two younger siblings while she prepared dinner. Irrespective of scolding I could not control this sneaking out for quite sometime.
During one of these afternoon rendezvous my friend took me to a house where there was a Ber (Indian Berry) tree. Finding so many ripe one’s we started aiming at them with whatever we laid our hands on. We succeeded in dislodging a few. Out came the lady of the house uttering expletives and we beat a hasty retreat while cursing the lady from the core of our hearts.
Those were heavenly days and we children were innocent to a fault. Our mothers would scream at us but we never heeded them and kept on indulging in our games till we were tired and hungry.
Soon I was in high school and old girly games stopped altogether.
The remembrances of those days take me back in time and I relive the innocence and purity of the magical days gone by.