I would sit by the window studying extra hours for my seventh grade exams; occasionally, I would peep out of the window. I remember the picture as if everything is happening at this very moment –
“Few of my friends are playing hide and seek. Few others are having joy with skipping ropes. A friend has bought a new bicycle & showing it off; slightly older ones are sharing special riding tips with him. There is utter chaos – but I feel, those are birds, chirping merrily! I think, once my exams are over, I will also join them and have lots of fun.”
The house was one among such 14 apartments in the neighborhood. I stayed there with mom, dad & two elder brothers. Amenities, like balcony with a scenic view, swimming pool, and serene environment, etc. weren’t on priority list at all.
But yes, vicinity to local market and schools, lot of friends to play with, an omnipresent middle class culture (teaching to do hard-work before expecting any trace of success), opportunity to live happily with people of different religions, were few of the benefits that our house provided.
(The unity got tested a few times as far as I can remember. It ranged from trivial quarrels over water during tough drought spells to a curfew that lasted for more than a week due to one of the worst communal riots our locality had ever seen.)
What I really appreciate is that the house always taught us to honor others’ traditions. Tenants of diverse backgrounds stayed there before & after us, while it always protected the occupants from heat, rains, wind or cold – unbiased!
I miss those starry nights under clear summer sky when all friends used to sleep on the terrace sharing ghost stories or interesting childhood adventure tales. We would be in peculiar emotional state of fear, thrill and curiosity…
I wonder sometimes if our house felt warm when we chuckled while having a family dinner. Or if it tried to appease the tensions that our parents went through in challenging times…
As time passed by, we relocated to another place; I had to change the school too, post seventh grade. Some old friends are still in touch. We share the fond memories, when we meet.
You see, we take away the photo-frames, but the hooks stay screwed in the heart of the walls.
Wish I could share some funny memories too; maybe, in next post…