Monday, 29 January 2007

Those were the days...

I've hardly got a month left for my ICSE exams, and the tension is mounting.....but not so much on me as it is on my parents and the rest of my family, which is, as I have observed, quite a common phenomenon. In fact, I have never felt more 'chaapless'. All that began to change last night, when my father, intent on making me realize the immense seriousness of the situation, sat down to make a study time table.
6:00 am - 8:00am ---- maths. (6:00am??????? That's 4 hours too early!!)
8:00am - 12 noon ---science(physics/chemistry/biology)
I don't think it will be a good idea to bore you further with details of a horrific study shcedule.

All this reminds me of those good old carefree days of my childhood when the only things I had to worry about was whether the cat had drunk the milk I had left out for it or which of the stray dogs in the neighbourhood had given birth to puppies or how far I could climb up the coconut tree in my front yard, or what to send my pen pal in Mumbai for Christmas.
I used to live in Bangalore until two years ago, when I shifted to Kolkata. My most vivid memories date back to when I was in around 4th or 5th grade. We used to live in a very peaceful little locality with lots of trees, gardens and lots of space to play. Our house had a big back yard and an old well. My friends Sourav, Shahanaz and I would go out every evening playing all sorts of games, climbing trees(yes, I was an expert at that!), screaming, playing pranks on each other and the other neighbours, feeding the stray dogs(resulting in long lectures from my parents about how harmful stray dogs are and about the consequences of being bitten by one, which did not deter me in any way), playing cricket and breaking windows, playing badminton and losing the shuttlecock and playing football, losing my shoes. And at the end of it all, when we were tired, we would troop into Shahanaz's house(covered in dirt, looking like we had emerged from a battlefield, victorious) to gobble up some of the excellent gajar ka halwa her mother had made. If it rained, we would sit in Sourav's balcony(he lived upstairs while I lived on the ground floor), telling each other ghost stories. And then we would go up to the the terrace of my house to watch the birds flying home during sunset, twittering while they set off for their journey in the sanguine-peach streaked sky...

Once we went through this 'ghost hunter' phase - we would talk non stop about our theories on ghosts. There was an old disused well in our back yard. It was so deep, the bottom of the well shrouded in darkness. One of our favourite pastimes was throwing stones into the well and trying to listen and see whose stone made the loudest splash. Many a time, we would not even be able to hear a splash. Whatever it was, we thought even the splashes sounded eerie. I guess this is how our theories of the well being 'haunted' took shape. Every day, I would come up with weird stories as to how and why the well was 'haunted'. Sourav reckoned somebody had been murdered there and his/her body was still lying there at the bottom of the well. Of course, at that time none of us really had enough scientific knowledge to see that this was extremely unlikely. Shahanaz, whose bedroom window faced the well, claimed that she had seen a shadowy figure of a woman emerging from there. We never really believed all this, but the idea of a haunted well really excited us, so we stuck to our theories. We did grow out of it later, though.

Another one of our 'ghost stories' involved a pair of black cats who used to frequent our kitchen, eating up all the leftover fish. One evening, we heard the unmistakable sound of two cats having a ferocious fight. The next day, I discoursed at length to my friends about how, at midnight, I had seen the two cats turning into tall, black robed figures(witches!!) who then flew away on broomsticks. It did not really matter whether they believed me or not - everyone likes a good story.

Once we started this 'nature' club. We spent a few evenings assiduously building a 'clubhouse' with sheets of asbestos we had 'stolen' from a nearby construction site. It turned out to be a marvel, the only problem was that it was too small and dark for us to do any significant 'clubbing' there, but we loved it all the same. Our nature club activities consisted of trying to remember the 'secret password' we changed at every 'meeting' and making sure it remained a 'secret'. Other than that, we made badges with 'I love nature' written on them and marched around the neighbourhood, badges proudly pinned onto our shirts. The only thing we did that actually had any connection to nature was feeding the stray dogs and finding suitable trees to climb!

It really is a lot of fun looking back on those days and it is surprising how we grow out of things we think we never will be able to. And even though it's been more than five years, it still seems just like yesterday...

I cannot afford to while away any more time with old reminiscences .Now instead of thinking of the past, I have to start worrying about my future, or rather, 'phuchaar'(if I have any at all) and that starts with ICSE.

Bye for now.

Awaking at the dawn of darkness-