Those Jamun days I

Everything seems mammoth; the streets, the backyard of the building, those adults that frowned when we made noise and the Jamun tree whose fruit we waited with bated breath for. Memories trickle by slowly as I recollect those innocent years, untouched by pessimism, free from greed, malice or ego.

Ghatkopar a small bustling suburb of Bombay, where I once lived, today is a overburdened suburb, buckling over with the weight of its inhabitants. But back then it was a small locality one that let us kids run amock on a empty road near our school where during school sport events, races were held.

But first I have to recount all I remember about home or rather homes, cause I had two. One was the home I lived in or rather slept in with my mother, father, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin and paternal grandma. The second was the home of my maternal Grandparents apartment in the building next door, where I spent my entire day.

These two buildings had a total of 14 children who were always upto something. But the season that stays with me now is summer. Summer was brown, the colour of my sun-burnt skin and the colour of the earth in the grassless garden of the school near which we friends lived and where we ran chasing one another. Summer is the only season I vividly recollect. All else lies buried in some dormant unimaginative corner of my brain.

Summers held us enraptured. Even when the day got exhausted and let night take over their job, we were still up and about. Nothing could damper our boundless energy. All we used to do was invigorating and enjoyable. Of course being the only girl among 13 boys was partly responsible for my memories being as thrilling.

Morning was when I opened my eyes and realized I didn�t have to go to school. Of course it wasn�t really morning because at 10 �o� clock, people are usually well into their day. But that was my morning, the pleasure of knowing my grandma�s singing voice wouldn�t wake me up.

A quick breakfast later I would be off, playing till noon when it was time for us all to head home for lunch. After bolting down our food, we would all collect ourselves in a friend�s place and plays cards or play some lame games to avoid the afternoon sun. But on rare days we also took delight in watching movies. The 50 paise contribution of each one of 14 was collective power enough to accumulate the necessary 7 rupees that enabled us to rent a movie. Around 4 we would all head back home and tried to stay docile till 6 when we would all be let out from our homes. We would all scamper down and play.

We always had a variety of games at our disposal. Cricket, football (I was the goal keeper as they decided I was tiny and could hold the ball better), Lagori ( the game where you pile rocks and hit them with a ball and run. You have to pile the rocks into a stack again and avoid the ball which others are trying to aim on you), marbles (I still have a dozen or more of them to show off how good I was at them), and of course the regular game of hide and seek. At around 8, tired and hungry, we would all slouch off home, eager to get to bed.

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