Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Days of Summer...

The mercury has shot up to almost 50 degrees. Even the sunset does not quell the heat. There is no reprive apart from staying indoors in an air conditioned environment. I guess I should not complain.. no power cuts, no water shortage, The kids commuting to their school in Ac coaches. But then again there is more to life than being indoors.

It seems like a summer from another life, when kids played the entire day with other children. All wearing white vests and knickers. They gathered at a friend's place and made jugs full of rasna. Dilligently mixing all the sachets and the small glass bottle with its tight plastic cap that at times needed teeth to pull open. The stirring of the sugary water and the rasna ingredients had a magical charm, that is missing in the bottled lemonades of today.

A shower later the tiny bodies all white with prickly heat powder gathered again to play house or just throw a ball around. Certain afternoons were spent watching a grandmother make delicious mango pickle in the inner courtyard. Salivating mouths in anticipation of a lick. The eager hands ready to help, the admonishing gestures from the grandmother. Does seem like another life.

There were escapades that mothers didn't worry about. A group of kids climbing and stealing mangoes from trees that had been leased out. The watchman running after with a stick, kids shoving the loot in their vests and the run away and beyond. The breathless laughter, the scraping of the mangoes on rough cemented walls. The bite into it's sour flesh, at times lucky to have managed a bit of salt in the pocket. Mothers those days were not worried about infections or a tan from the heat. It was ok to be dirty and brown.

The best part being the evenings when all the kids watered their respective terraces and gardens. The plants soaking in the cool water and the attention. The kids were allowed to play with the hose pipes, drench themselves and the lawns. run muddy legged into the house dripping water all the way to the bathroom. After towelling dry and more of that prickly heat powder, hair combed and parted neatly, the bucket of water soaked mangoes was a treat for all the senses. To sit in a circle around that bucket and choose your pick.. a delight as sweet, if not more than any alphonso mango.

Nights were usually under the stars, The watered terrace, now cool. the gentle and soothing breeze from the Neem and Mango trees. The sky boundless in its stars, the moon peeping in through the white mosquito nets. Stories of fairies and demons. Castles won and princesses saved. Counting days left until schools reopened. An end to yet another fruitful and adventurous day. A promise of endless more such days to come.

Yes summers from my childhood in Baroda, Gujarat does seem like another life.