Purani jeans aur guitar
Mohalle ki woh chhat aur mere yaar
I heard this song by Ali Haider after quite a long time and immediately I was engulfed by a wave of nostalgia. People who have left their school and college days behind will understand the fascination of this song. Caught up as we are in the drudgery of everyday life, those bygone days are like a whiff of fresh air that evokes cherished memories in our minds. Don’t we all remember incidents from our school and college days and laugh indulgently on them? I thought of setting down some of my memories here.
I don’t remember the exact year – it was sometime in the mid 90s. My school friends had come over to spend the day at my grandparents’ house in Kolkata during the school holidays. The house next door belonged to a family friend who was a bachelor. He was very fond of me and gave me permission to play in his empty house during the day when he would be away at work. When my friends came over we would usually play in his house, making as much noise as we wanted. On this particular day we were pretty much bored of our regular games and wanted to try our hands at something new. Our super intelligent brains conceived of a new version of tag – one person would be IT (the person to catch the others) while the rest would barricade themselves in another room and venture out at intervals thus giving the first person the opportunity to catch them. Looking back, it was a game fraught with the danger of banging the door on somebody’s fingers or toes and also a game that really didn’t make much sense. But we were delighting in it and very soon the house was echoing with the sounds of our gleeful laughter.
Before coming to the actual incident let me explain the layout of the rooms we were playing in. The house was a duplex with the second floor almost completely given over to a huge lobby kind of area which was the study sitting room of the owner. There were also a small bedroom and a bathroom which was accessible both from the lobby and the bedroom. The bathroom door opening into the lobby was a sturdy wooden affair while the one opening into the bedroom was a sliding plywood door. Initially we were using the door of the lobby to play our game but it was proving too heavy for us. Soon we had switched to the sliding door, which was infinitely more fun. All that, however, ended when the door slipped out of its frame and came crashing down on us!
No matter how many years elapse, I don’t think I will ever forget the expressions on my friends’ faces when the door came out like that. Imagine 5 little girls standing dumbfounded and shell-shocked, a blue colored door in their hands. Visions of punishments like being grounded for the entire holidays, had started running in our minds. After a few minutes like this, we managed to pull ourselves together. The one thing uppermost in our minds at that time was how to fit the door back without anyone coming to know. We tried it this way and that but it would just not fit back into the frame. We had just about resigned ourselves to being punished for breaking a door in somebody else’s house. That sounds so funny now but back then it seemed like a life imprisonment sentence to us. Suddenly one of us had a brain wave. Like drowning men (rather women) we grabbed at it. The idea was to fit the door into the lower part of the frame and then bend it slightly at the middle so that it is able to snap into the upper part of the frame as well. Quite logical. So we proceeded to break ourselves into two groups. After fitting the door into the lower frame, three of us applied slight pressure on the top of the door from one side while the other two applied pressure at the middle from the other side to get a slight curvature. It was not easy as it sounds but our perseverance paid off when the door suddenly popped back into place. Five extremely relieved children quickly scuttled back to my grandparents’ house and by an unspoken agreement, did not mention this incident to a single soul. Indeed it was after many years that I finally told my parents how we had broken a door and fixed it back as well. Their uproarious laughter still rings in my head!
There are so many more memories – I will come to those in later posts.