I remember as far as my memory goes mom used to take care of all small little things in life that one just took for granted. From waking me up, to bathing me, to dressing me up, making breakfast and tiffin, polishing the shoes, filling the water bottle, (though one drank from any tap or hand pump in those days), checking homework, tying the knot of the tie, ensuring the school badges are put correctly, check all the books were in the satchel, last minute peeling the pencil with “her” spare sharpener, knowing mine must be hiding in the mystic maze of my school bag. Let there be a button missing she could produce one and stitch it in a jiffy. I used to dilly dally, refusing to dress up. I would hide my belt sometimes. I would lie on the floor and “faaat” used to come a tight slap. Simple words, behave or I call dad used to turn the tables. Drink your milk or else the dog is waiting and the milk used to go glug glug down the gullet. A neat little hanky used to be attached with a safety pin on the shirt with instructions to blow my nose, who cared. A small prayer at the door was the norm. She never forgot to give a curt reminder to bring back my tiffin which I forgot yesterday. The list is endless and all this was done like clockwork and a whirlwind.
Moment you left the house your world was different, your school friends became the world. Maths teacher was the most dreaded one, the moral science teacher used to be the sweetest one; the best period in the day was games period, followed by arts and crafts. Pine cones used to be footballs during recess, every stray dog was a target for throwing stones. One odd fight a day used to be routine. How difficult it must be for mom in those days without washing machines, I can imagine now. Your tiffin was for friends and friend’s tiffin was for you. Lovely days they were!
How I got inspired to write this piece was that yesterday while on our weekly shopping trip to the market I observed a few kids. After having had my hair cut I was waiting for my wife to join me and these kids in the street were ready to play night cricket under the street lights, five six of them, ranging from 5-8 years of age. I couldn’t help but laugh because I had been there for more than ten minutes and they could not decide how to toss. The toss winner was supposed to bat I assume, so one of them picked up a shiny packet of “gutka” with mangoes (AMBA) printed on it on one side. They agreed to throw it up in the air. “AMBA”, was the call by both teams and AMBA it was but then how can both win the toss. In the mean time one chap brought a thrown away carton to make the wickets, so they decided to call the toss once again after a heated discussion on who will call as I assume all were captains of their own kind. So one chap again called amba and he lost the toss. Well, he had the bat so he decided that sorry this is no way can a toss be held. So one sensible chap suggested yaar lets not waste time and finish with the toss as it might rain in another minute. It was no less than the national team so toss had to be done I suppose.
This time they decided to throw that gutka wrapper higher and they did. The wrapper got caught in a gust of wind and landed up in a wet mud pile standing straight. The road is under construction that’s how they were playing on the main road. So another controversy started. Heated debate and parleys, so ultimately they decided to flip a coin. Issue was none of them had a coin. Now how do they toss without a coin? Again discussions and debate to change the mode of toss and they found a piece of mirror with a deep orange colour on one side. Up it went in the air and down it came and got shattered, shattering the toss again. Now things were getting out of hand. Standing and watching the chaos and commotion took me back to my days. Then one of them approached me “uncle ek rupya cha nane hai kaye” (Uncle do you have a one rupee coin). I being the only vela and the only spectator was the person they approached. I peeped in my purse, unfortunately there was not a single coin inside, I meekly said “naye” (No) and sheepishly grinned at them. Just then I heard my wife say good haircut, I said thank God you came to my rescue and both of us scooted from there. Those kids must be thinking what a “fokatia” chap this guy is. Only thing he has is a big mush.
Well, nostalgia set in the way we used to write numbers under the bat and draw straight lines outside keeping the bat face down to decide the order to bat in the good old days. “Koi lauta de mere beetay hue din”. Well, I relived them seeing those kids yesterday. Would you like to relive them too? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis