Of all the joys of childhood, the only thing which has stuck in my mind is our summer holidays. Children of current generation are loaded with innumerable classes to attend during summer holidays (cricket, abacus, summer camps, swimming…phew! The list is endless), mainly because children get “bored” if they are at home. They simply cannot stay without somebody/something engaging them. Parents cannot engage them forever and hence to get them out of their way, they are sent to classes. But for us, summer holidays meant only one thing, going away to grandma’s place! The best part was to go there and do NOTHING! The joy of nothing was enough to make us happy!
Our typical summer holidays preparation started with getting the concession forms from school so that Dad could buy our train tickets at a lesser price. We studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya and hence the process. Not sure if it still exists now. That single sheet of paper was like a ticket to joy and fun.
A few summer vacations are quite distinct in my mind due to some memories attached to it. One summer, we’d gone to Vizag as usual. My mother and father had stayed back in Chennai. On the first day of our visit, grandma always made a brinjal curry. It was one of our favourites. Nobody could make it like her. The reason being, she used lots of oil to fry them! Our Vizag home was a typical independent house with lots of open space in the front and a backyard. The house itself was red tiled floored house styled in railway compartment style. Yes, you pictured it right. The hall, bedroom and kitchen were all in one line. The kitchen opened to the backyard and there was space all around the house to run about. My grandma was a passionate gardener. She had all sorts of trees and plants in the garden – a henna tree, a citrus fruit tree, Parijata tree etc… but the most special of them all was the Sampige tree.
The tree was small, but it flowered throughout the year. Sometimes we used to have about hundred flowers on a single day! Our house was on the ground floor with a terrace on the top. The parapet wall was low and wide enough for all of us to sit. The Sampige tree was quite close to the terrace. It was around evening that all four of us had gone up as one of our friends had visited. My sister was talking to our friend while I and my other sister started playing. Meanwhile, my brother had silently climbed onto the parapet wall and somehow got himself onto one of the branches of the tree. Anybody who knows about Sampige trees knows that its branches are quite frail and fragile. My brother was on the branch now and he cried “Hey, look where I am” with excitement. We all looked at once. Before we could even register anything, he had fallen off the branch to the ground. We went to the parapet wall and looked down; we couldn’t see him on the sunshade. We quickly ran down the open stairs. Imagine our surprise when we saw our brother sitting on sand with his feet folded. He had escaped the fall unhurt with just a few minor cuts, thanks to the sand. All this happened in about thirty seconds.
Now the dreaded moment had come. We had to tell our grandma. We somehow managed to tell her and she totally freaked out. From that day onwards, she told each and every guest, who had come for a visit, about the incident and how careless we sisters were. We did not inform our mom. She was due to arrive in Vizag soon, so we decided to keep quiet. She arrived home at midnight by taking the Coromandel express. My grandma then broke the news about my brother’s fall and she got worried too. But in the end, everything was alright.
There were other incidents like filling the entire Kool Keg (a huge can-like jug to store water) with Rasna and drinking it from the tap. The can was full of ants after a few days, but that didn’t stop us. We strained it and continued to drink. There was one more about an ice-cream man, who used to come around one O’ clock in the afternoon and ring the bell. Those carts had that little blade hanging by a thread from the top. We used up the entire money that our grand stored under her sari in ice-creams. But she didn’t mind a bit. Another best part was that we didn’t study at all. Although we did read books after joining a library with a lifetime membership of 25 Rs (this was 1992). We were not forced to read and yet we read.
These wonderful memories never seem to go away. But all this is missing somehow in the summer vacations of our children. Too much planning is done to spend a summer holiday. It takes away the fun. If only, they could once experience the true joys of summer vacations as we did.
This article is submitted as a part of Nostalgic Article of the Month contest