Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Frock and Hopscotch days

Childhood is the cradle of memories for every human.  So was mine, a cradle of mirthful moments ! Frilled frocks were a fascination and those with pink plaits or polka dots all over them made my heart skip a beat. 

Although when I see my photographs I realize that my parents had not brought me up as a girl, not really the way most Indian girls are brought up. They made me wear shorts with contrasting caps and shoes that always kept the uncle or aunty in the neighbourhood guessing about my sex. Don't know if my parents were fans of  Sherlock Holmes then. A mystery was always thrown upto to every other visitor who came to meet me armed with bags of fruits or cerelac, most of which I tried to boycott with a shriek. Until the aunty from the neighbourhood came sprinting to save my tongue from the bland taste.

While most of my first friends in life, always wore frocks, I have proofs in the charcoal coloured pictures in the albums stacked in my cupboard, and most of us were toothless fairies then. A smirk for the shutterbug was a two toothed or toothless sparkle in most of those pictures, with my partner in crime from those days, Neenu, my first friend.

My parents bought me all kinds of toys, my first ones being the utensils in the kitchen which wasn't brought in my name. They arrested my attention and so did the local vegetable vendor.They say my ambition in life then, was to sell vegetables and make a buck. My dad was my babysitter for the first two years of my life. In the absence of a paid babysitter and my grandparents not buying the thought of taking care of me, he  decided to quit his less paying job when mom got a more respectable government job three months after my arrival. That might be the reason that dad gave me all kinds of toys and games to play with and my grooming was very gender neutral, untouched by inequality. My room was a crib riddled with kitchen set,doctor's set,cars,dolls,and even teddy bears, none mollycoddled to feminine frailty. The visitors to my nest, couldn't really call it a girl child's room, it was a child's room just another child's room full of objects of various shapes,sizes and colours. 
My other activities included racing my walker along the length of the long winding terrace we had, and knock at every neighbour's house. By the time someone in the house would rush to the call I would have reached the end of the balcony! An almost baby Schumacher I was. 

Another interesting fascination was to ride a bike, always had the biker girl's genes it seems. At the age of three when I climbed on to the bulky bike dad's friend had parked in front of our house I happened to suffer from a major fall and my forehead was bruised. Such notorious was that fall that it gave me a furrow on my forehead, one that everyone notices easily when they first happen to meet me. It is like a birthmark, that was given to me after my birth! I thought of preserving it as a childhood memory and haven't attempted surgery to correct that scar ever.

My first period happened at the age of ten. I remember running to mom complaining of blood coming out of the place from where I passed urine.   Mom hurriedly hushed me to another room and without giving any explanations gave me a white cloth to wear. I thought that I will die of a dangerous disease and for the next one month, there wasn't a single day when I didn't cry. Unanticipated was the arrival of my period at the tender age of ten that it took mom about a year to explain me the biology behind menstruation.
Thereby with time I learned to wash my soiled underwear by myself and didn't give it to the laundry maid. Washing machines were expensive then and it was our maid who did the honours of housekeeping for us.

When teenage gave me wings I was never asked to dress down. I wore the smallest shorts unlike my other female friends,  and rode a bicycle in my neighbourhood, otherwise haggled by bad boys. I still remember my time table in those days. I rode my bicycle from 4 to 6 and then played hopscotch for half an hour. Hopscotch always confused me with the large squares and numbers, I never really liked it, although I loved the idea of jumping.On the day my younger brother managed to convince his friends, I used to give hopscotch a miss and played football or cricket with my brother and his friends. Football was all about dribbling and kicking the ball in imitation to the boys and cricket made me a left handed batswoman. I couldn't throw the ball with a hawk eye's perfection and thus,  never became a bowler.

If I were to pen every moment from my my girlhood I am sure that this post won't really end. The transformation was of course a reasoner of why childhood is the best time in any person's life. 

I still raise a howl, but not in celebration for the first bicycle that dad had given to me on my seventh birthday, but for the seventeenth grey hair I have at this age. I think that count is right. I do not ride bicycles anymore, although most of these days I was cribbing to mom about how I should get to doing it again, to tuck my tummy. And she shrieked without an apology and told me that there were no open spaces to tire my legs on the pedal and a twenty something woman riddling along the road would make a hundred heads turn, it wasn't so then when I was seven. 

Yesterday while at the monastery we happened to distribute sweets in celebration of a child's birthday growing up at their orphanage. And I heard a raring request for a coffee candy and not for strawberry molasses and realized that life has indeed been blissful, always having given me more than I ever asked for. It could have been nameless and faceless like it is for an orphan, but it was very kind, kinder than I had anticipated.

Every minute was a merit I have preserved as certificates and trophies from a school that allowed us to play basketball and burn our skin and not faint at the thought of social studies classes that followed. When I see girls in blue pinafores and red ribbons hopping back home in the afternoons, I do miss my frock and hopscotch days terribly. Although they still remain my favourite memory, like that pleasant gust of wind that visits me on evening walks I embark now, instead of going on a ride along the thoughtless terrain of life. 
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Anonymous said...

Wow. You reminded me of my childhood days. I'm a guy though but knowing how a girl would see things is more amazing.
I remember how my younger sister was brought up too with the unisex clothes, everyone asked my mom "A girl or a boy?". Ah! I miss those days so much.
Anyways, Take care. Good luck ahead. Never stop writing. :)

Aabha Vatsa said...

A lovely post Rinzu. It was lovely walking with you in your childhood's maze. The enjoyment is tangible through your words. keep writing more often. Keep sharing :)
ATB for the contest!

Hip Grandma said...

Nice post. It reminded me of a little girl in our neighbourhood who was seen in shorts and tee shirts. People were left wondering if she was a girl or boy.

Pooja Sharma Rao said...

lovely share of memories which you have made all the more precious by sharing them with all your readers.