Holidays meant a very little bit elevation of the summer heat – but that was mostly an afterthought since we did not care much about those rudimentary things but concentrated only on the 3 letter word called fun.
I had been introduced to some good set of friends at new house – but mostly kids who were school drop outs, kids who mostly played on the streets and gutters. But how will a kid understand all these neuiesences of life? Irrespective of the middle class strata all the kids joined to gather – literally hand to hand and played games for fun.
Prakasha was the lead nuiecense maker. I remember his leadership ways aka Tata in stealing things for the annual holi celebrations. He would have 2 teams. The first team would knock on the doors and ask for alms. Meanwhile the second team would climb up using every possible way on top of their houses and look out from vantage points. If the first team got some dried wood, cloths or things that are easy to burn, no problem but in case the house owner got stubborn, a special whistle from prakasha would mean – steal everything in sight – including those paper mache made items kept on top of house to be dried to sun.
They would buy coloured powders and have a great blast. The evenings would ensure that all the collected firewood, cloths, paper is made into a crude effigy of kamanna – the lord of desires and burnt with dancing kids around. Each year the gang yearned for a bigger kamanna next year!
Kids gang up pretty easily. The biggest talker and action person is the leader. All of them listen to him with rapt attention and carry out the words with respect – like military training. There is not dual logic of why should I do it? Who is he? Self appointed leaders are questioned only when an other leader gets in way.
Each leader is also loved for some great help rendered to individuals in the team. One of the kids in the gang wanted to know if lakshmi pataki could be burst in air. Off went one of the guys to buy the 1Re big cracker – mind you, the amount of sulphur and pottassium nitrate in that is enough to have ringing noise in your ears.
Prakasha took the pataki in one hand, as having observed his uncle light up the wills cigerrate, he too cupped his hand and struck a match. With expertise he lit the fuse and all of us moved back 4 steps in awe.
Eeyye said one of them hearing the hissing noise of the fuse… prakasha waited and calculated the length of fuse and in one swoosh threw the cracker up. It was about 20 feet up in air very near to the KEB tubelight it burst – a loud bang which resonated – only to be matched by the jumping, joyfull kids around – showered with pieces of paper from the lakshmi pataki. This became a folk lore in our street when parents admonished kids to light up the small kudure pataki from distance.
One of the wish I had was to fly a kite very high in sky. I had learnt how to make kites from my father but too small a person to fly it. Most of my attempts decorated the electric poles and my signature deccan herald kites drew the attention of prakasha. One day he asked – can you make a big kite for me? In escatacy of knowing that he would launch it secreatly from the next door neighbours roof top – i agreed.
In the afternoon when mom had gone off to work, me and prakasha brought the choiciest of news paper and some rice for making the kite. Most of the kids ate ragi balls and was not good for kite making. We prepared the kite and kept it in the hot sun for 20 minutes. Prakasha climbed up the roof top and asked me to come too. Leaving the house unlocked, in glee, with his help and one another kid. I got on top of my asbestose sheet top – only to burn my feet and make a rock dance!
Eeeyo..ee kade baro – he gestured. There was the shade of the big coconut tree next doors. Now the question of finding the right breeze and launching was pending. The kite was handed over to some kids on road. They waited holding the kite high like a Zubin mehta in his composition. Once prakasha’s shirt coller twirled in air, he guestured and immideatly like Rohini series of rockets by ISRO, we launched our home made kite. Every body had that question wether the kite would survive as a commercial one.
The kite with initial hiccups soared into the blue sky. I remember clapping in joy and thanking him. It was a cool 1 hour we were on top and remembered that mom would get back home by 4pm and requested prakasha to get the kite down. Finally after loosing some thread which was tangled, we got the kite down and carried the treasure inside house.
Mom got wind of this kite business by my neighbour who had seen all. We were given a good admonishing not to bake in hot sun and drink gallons of water. We were asked to fly the kites only in early mornings or evenings when heat was bearable – but where did the grownups know that wind is highest when temperature is high?
One of the other games played was buguri or the latest bay blades as my son does. It was more simple in those days. A small top was selected based on money one had in pocket. A nail of equal length was given to me from my carpenters son next door. He stole his father big sutti or hammer. We got to a open field with a well – because it had solid stone slabs – perfect for nailing the top and cutting off the edge so that it would rotate – an art mastered by siddoji – carpenters son.
We used to play this indoors on red oxide cement floor and see how long it would rotate. My cousin venkatesh had a top we called sleepy. This small top would rotate nonstop for near 3 minutes for one twirl.
I was fortunate to have suhas, sudhir, sanjay and sumanth – all sons of Dr H.S.Venkatesh murthy the kannada lituerate as my friends. He incidentaly also is the song writer for the serial Muktha. He used to lock up in his room and write poems and chase all of us out as we created a near racket while playing games. We had invented a game called soft ball cricket. This was played next to the window of HSV.
to be continued….