By Lawyer Asad
I am a village lad. Born and brought up in village. After more than five and a decades when I look back at those days in reminiscence then my memories are filled with many incidents and those are so fresh it seems that those have happened to me as if only yesterday.
I fondly cherish my childhood days and nourish those so that those memories keep the child in me alive and kidding.
One of my very good friends told me that the naughtiness which had started in those days of mind in "Half-Pants" are still with me only has been more polished and sharpened to apply in other platforms and forums. She is not wrong.
Perhaps the seed of my growing up, personality and things related to me were sown in those innocent and carefree days when I used to feel like the "King of the World".
Here in this short article I've narrated a part of my childhood.
I remember my childhood life onward from 5/6 years of my age. Not day to day incidents but those occurances which has created an impact on my mind. Some are funny and hillarious while others are not so pleasant. One of many abilities in me the two which I adore are my 'sense of humour' and the ability to laugh on myself. I'm not a jester or bafoon but sometime can be very funny while narrating the happenings of my earlier life.
I still wonder how idiot I was to think that there're real men, women and kids inside a Radio set (there was no televisions at our place in the 60s) and entertain us with their performances. Jonathan Swift's Gullier and the Lilliputs of the "Gullier's Travel" had a great influence for this kind of weird imagination. And in this persuit to find out those 'toe-sized' performer quite a few Radio sets were broken open only to find dangle of wires, needle, speaker and dry battery cells. I wondered perhaps those tiny creatures are too shy to show them up to me.
My mischief has cost my father for buying a new radio set and me with a sound thrashing only to be waiting for the next one to open.
We had a gramophone with those black discs of LP records.
Me and my cousin, who was six months younger to me, engaged sometime whole day to listen to the LP records of various play back artists and vocalist of that time. My song memory is good and can remember a son only one or two times of listening to it.
There was a needle underneath the revolving disc upon which the LP record were put. It could increase or lessen the speed of the revolution of the disc. True to our nature, very soon we discovered that manipulating the needle could be a great fun. So we had tied a thred to that needle and either pull or or relax it while the disc was revolving. A sharp pull could speed up the rhytham of the song and words were played at a great speed. But when relaxed than the normal speed then it was more fun as the sound totally changed.
That lifeless machine with an emblame of a faithful dog sitting before a flowery funnel of a gramophone had to tolerate our tortures. Had it any life then certainly it'd commit suicide to save its modesty and pride from the hands of two ten year old ruffians.
Oh...those were the days. It seems that it happened just yeasterday.
My uncle had a great passion for music and photography. I've picked up the later. He had a 'Voiglander' twin lens camera and my great obsession but he'd not allow me even to hold it for a second. I had to satisfy my thirst by looking at it while it was sitting comfortably and safely inside the locked glass show case.
We've grown up with music around our house hold. On Sundays or holidays lots of music lover friends of my uncle would throng our home for singing and playing various kinds of instruments. Sitar, Tabla, Banjo, Foot Organ, Mandoline and other musical instruments were used on such occasions.
My father was an expert Tabla and Sitar player. He used to practice it in daily evening. It was almost a ritual for him to play the National Anthem of India at the last. We kids, who were so long kept confined with our text books, would know that playing of the Anthem was end of his practice and more amusing the end of our drugery with the books and lessons for the day and its the dinner time now.
Only my cousin and one of my brothers have adopted that music in them. Though I love music very much. But I think that I'm not that much 'tuned' to understand the nuances of the scale of music though have a considerably good voice for copy/playing popular songs. Now they play Guitar, Harmonium and Tabla.
My father had another hobby. Its fishing. I'd tell about it on some other time.
My cousing and me were great pals. My father was a chain smoker. When we were studying in Standard IV (about 8 years of age) then we both decided that its better to be grow up quickly as the grown ups enjoy lots of liberties.
But how to grow up quickly? Smoking was one of the avenues which might put us at a par with the elders.
Instant action followed to expedite our biological growth to make us grown ups. I had secretly taken two pieces of 'No. 10' Cigerettes from the pack of my father. There were always packs of 'No.10' 'Passing Show' or 'Scissors' on his shelf.
It was a Sunday or may be a holiday.
We two had to search for a place where we can smoke it and grow up instantly. Lastly a big wooden packing box was found. It was once used for sending milk powders for Indian children from the Australian Govt.
My father and uncle were founder office bearers of a library and through it the milk powders were distributed among the village kids. After the distribution it was empty and found its place in our stockyard.
It was a real big one for keeping us hidden from the prying eyes of the 'adults'. Because they might not like an early competition from us.
But 'luck' had decided otherwise.
We had turned it upside down and slid in it. My cousin had brought a match box for lighting the cigerettes.
All was going fine. We were very thrilled at the prospective and after few vain attempts to light those two 'white sticks' and burnt match sticks we could at last fire it.
Just one drag by each and the earth below our feet started moving and everything seemed having ride on the roller coster. At the same time a sudden feat of 'cough' seized both of us. The smoke which was drawn inside out lungs suffocated us. Eyes became red and tears appeared. Condition of my Uncle's son was more bad than me.
But it was signs of weakness to give up so early as our junior sized ego stood in front of us and reasoned that it is a conspiracy of don't know whom to thwart us from growing up prematurely. We were determined to finish it by facing whatever comes.
There was a boy in our locality who was of our age and wanted to befriend us. But we had always believed that 'two is a friendship and three is a crowd' so didn't allow him to get admission.
He was keeping an eye on us. But after our hiding he couldn't find us and searching where we might be. At the bottom of that wooden crate there was a hole and it came upside when we tuned it upside down. The smoke from our cigerettes were going out through that outlet like Chimney. He had seen it and instantly guessed what we were doing inside. He had gone to my grandmother and took her to the place. Both of them lifted the crater (packing box) to expose us and we were caught red handed with burning evidence in between our fingers.
Seeing my grand mother before me was more frightening than seeing a ghost alive. I desperately prayed for magic to happen to make me disappear or vanish instantly. But everything and everyone, normal or para normal, conspired against us. We were caught and not to mention about the consequences.
There were more in store for us. She had informed the matter to the Headmaster of the school through her confidats.
The next day at the prayer time in School, the Headmaster appeared before all the students. After the prayer he told all the students to stand and not to go their respective classes. He called the names of we two and asked us to file out from the row.
I thought that another volley of disgrace followed by a thrashing of the 'Cane' stick held in his hand was imminent.
He told all the students about our mischiefs, I was hurt at the word 'mischief' because it was our 'adventure' like Sindbad. But who's going to correct him?
After his short speech denouncing our pre-mature efforts to grow up he had thrashed both of us in front of the boys and girls.
From that incident we had aborted the idea and smoking cigerettes and relied on the natural process for our growing up.
More of such incidents would be told to you later. And as usual I was the center of all such mischiefs or adventures and bore the first hand evidence.
(The accompanying picture is of my grandson Ryan, he's only 22 months but showing the signs of emerging into a Denis the Menace).