Dr HSV worked for St Josephs college in the kannada department as a reader initially and finally became the head of department. Since his sons were the closest friends of mine, quite a major chunk of my holidays were spent in their home and he treated me and my friend Umesh as part of his family itself – so much so we went to see SuperMan in Nanda talkies as one family!
We used to meet people like MN Vyasa rao , Nissar Ahmed , Lakshminarayana Bhatta, Subbanna while playing our customery games in his house. Never did we know that these are the doyens of the kannada culture!!
There was a big cement floor in front of the house tailor made for our cricket. Already the youngest sanjay had broken the glass pane of HSV’s room and the same was plastered with brown paper and prajava vani news papers.
We used to start of very early in the day. Initialy we started playing cricket using rubber balls. These were lost very quickly as we could hit hard at them and they travelled double the distance. Also they would land in gutter and taking out the ball was a big risk – if some adult watched us!. Finally the noise of the rubber ball threatned HSV’s peace and he declared that any more noisey cricket, the bat would be burnt for next days meal.
We all met at the backside of the Government School. We discussed ways and means of continuing our masala game. Like a buddi jeevi we sat and thought for a new ball which would be noiseless. Veda came speeding with his cycle tyre and said ‘sorry kanroe, halu tharabekithu – thengige jwara‘.
An idea hit sumanth who said, why dont we play with a rubber banded ball? It meant cutting those cycle tubes used in our playing tyres into small pieces. I produced my favourite kite making scissors while we forced veda to give up his tube inside the tyres for reinforcement.
We took a small pound of lekhak written paper from sanjays double line note book secretly where miss had written poor and wrapped around thick wads of cut tyre bands around them.
This new ball was tried. The problem was it was quite small and majorly madhu had to land up with a bruised eyes when the rubber band ball hit him at full force in front of the KEB pole while attempting the pitch catch!!
It became normal for us to get burised like this and we still found the ball wanting. We did not have money to purchase tennis balls which were the order of the day. At 60Ps, a rubber ball itself was costly.
My mother had a wollen knitting machine and had quite a few old wollen sweters and mufflers of odd size and colours. I just chanced and pleaded her for one of those for playing. Using my stitching skills, I took a pound of news paper and stitched upon it, the wollen muffler in thick wads. This was the new soft ball.
This soft ball invention of mine was a instance hit. It did not produce the sound, did not travel long when hit the hardest and also did not bruise anybody!!!!
I became an instant hero. Suddenly the boys became malcolm marshall and ran the bowling run up so much to get pace that they would be panting by the time they reached the bowling crease itself!
Cricket used to be played in everybodies house now because of the soft ball since it also did not break anything like glass on contact. My skills were in high demand and other kids tried to duplicate my efforts with disasterous efforts. Example were cotton socks missing for younger brothers, mysterious dissapearance of mufflers etc. The elders did not find out the reasons anyways and blamed the rats which were in quite good vote bank numbers then.
The middle 80’s was the era of board games. There was this ludo, snake and ladder which was only for girls. We sighted our first board game BUSINESS and got instantly hooked on to it. The banker post was a prominent post given to anybody good in maths.
The arrival of a new tenent for my house ( we had rented out a portion to pay the loans) from nigeria recently, opened a new vista in gaming for us – no Xbox stuff anyways!. The lady of the house Mrs Muttu Lakshmi became very friendly with me and one day showed me many board games. I got lost after counting eight different board games and requested can I play and return those please.
On hearing the YES, I jumped in joy and declared to my friends on the top of the well stone that we would be playing new board games next monday!
to be continued…