April 21, 2010
Come April and children have grandiose plans for their summer holidays. Having overcome the burden of examination it is time to relax and enjoy indulging in their favourite pass time but within days of getting holidays they get bored. “Getting bored” is the new buzzword among young urban children these days as they find it difficult to productively use the time on hand. Many parents have found a convenient way of putting the smaller children to summer camps to keep the children ‘engaged’. For some even summer camps have become mundane leading to boredom again. So the best children do is go for dance, drawing, music and art classes and spend the rest of the time watching television or movies.
The predicament of the present day children often sends my memory back to the days when I was a student. Those were the carefree days when children especially those from the rural background were not burdened as far as education is concerned unlike today’s children who never get a respite from academic related activity. Those days I looked forward to the holidays and the ‘boredom’ factor never bothered me or cropped up in my mind. On the contrary holidays kept me busy with countless tasks, giving me an opportunity to know and understand the intricacies and hardships of life, to get a glimpse of the rural and rustic life, to know nature, her rustic beauty and the surprises she offered and all other aspects which have helped me to face the challenges of life in a better way. In the four years of my hostel life I looked forward to these holidays with an effervescent urgency.
Those good old Days
Compared to the good old days and the fun I had I really pity today’s city bread children who despite boasting all that has got to do with technology and gadgets namely, television, computer games, video, mobile phones, play stations or ipods, watching latest movies and shopping in the best of the malls. Of course we were a large brood of children and together we made the loudest of noise in the surrounding with no neighbor to howl around, which added to our fun element. Apart from the normal fights we children had it was the work-filed yet joyful and quieting atmosphere that prevailed during our growing years of summer holidays.
April and May months are the time when nature is in her bountiful best providing seasonal fruits like cashews, varieties of mangoes, jackfruits, guavas, jamuns, gooseberries etc. Along with the work of picking cashews or collecting wood or gathering leaves to stockpile for the rainy season there was the fun of eating fresh mangoes plucked directly from the tree eating with the bare hand and licking the juice of the luscious mangoes that drips from the sweaty arm as we ate. Spotting a ripe mango with the right combination of colours to give it that tempting look, was a knack we mastered and in the absence of a stick the stones always came in handy.
Nature and her Bounty
It was no easy task to pick cashews covering a vast compound in the scorching sun. The sheer fun of shaking the branches of cashew or mango trees filled with fruits and seeing the fruits fall in plenty was one of our favourite tasks. Removing a cashew from the top most branch of the huge cashew tree was accomplished easily. When it comes to guavas we did not spare even the unripe ones in our pursuit to get our hands on the fruits. Gooseberry trees were not very commonly available but they did not deter us from going in search of the tree a few kms away from home. The sheer size of the tree was a major impediment to many others and that is why the berries were still there. But we had our daily brush with nature observing every tree, every bush or new plant that came up in the vast expanse of the farm.
Jackfruit was the king of the fruits for me mainly because of its size, smell and the tasty yellow fruit decked within the hard exterior. The softer variety enabled my younger brother to gulp the entire one sitting on the tree all alone and often we envied him. The softer variety did not require a knife and it did not have the sticky gum making the job much easier. Cooking and drying jackfruit seeds for the rainy season was also part of our job and was carried out with full gusto. One had to prepare oneself and others to face the smelly silent crackers and gases that emanated from the rear end once the consumption of the same started with the right earnestness.
Reliving old memories
As the wave of nostalgia grips me I try to recall the good old days and the fun element that was an essential part of our growing up. Now such humungous mango or cashew trees have disappeared making way for the shorter ones. Other fruits like guavas, jamuns and gooseberries are available in the market throughout the year and the craving has disappeared. There are plenty of eatables available in the shops all through out the year and one does not have to worry about stockpiling eatables for rainy season.
So when my children broach the subject of getting bored I feel lugubrious at the thought of they missing the rustic lifestyle, a close peep into the nature and the myriad surprises nature has in store for those who dare to explore. Forget about getting bored we never found time to rest due to the workload and the myriad activities/work we children did during the holidays. I miss the quietude of the village life, the vivifying air from the fields, the vast verdure, the blithe atmosphere, the scent of the flowers and the fruits emanating from the surrounding, the chirping of birds, barking of dogs, the cries of the animals and the stillness of the night life. That experience is one of the most unforgettable facets of my life which I would love to relive.
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