The golden years

The golden years

An untainted impetuosity characterised our small idyllic little world.

Our childhood days were spent in multistoried flats near Dhaula Kuan in New Delhi in the lap of nature in the verdant ridge. We, kids, then had not been corrupted by outside forces. An untainted impetuosity characterised our small idyllic little world. My brother and I would pair up with another brother sister duo of Anu and Sonu and play house-house and doctor-nurse. Evenings would have all children of the block gathering in the park to play catch me if you can, chain, kho-kho and pithu.

However, our favourite game was hopscotch in which we played on a pattern of squares marked on the ground. Each child would throw a stone into a square and then hop and jump along the empty squares. A forest flanked our block on two sides. Our Sundays were spent in exploring the forest. As soon as we entered the forest, we would be accosted by a sudden quiet with only the crickets singing quietly from their hideouts.

The trees formed a canopy protecting us from the Sun. We would sit on the twisted trunks of the babool trees and share confidences. The constant green and brown foliage of the babool trees would be interspersed with bright red flowers of the gulmohar trees. The gulmohar trees were gorgeous with their slender trunks and numerous branches. Their feather-like leaves divided into scores of tiny leaflets arrranged on the mid-rib. The gulmohar trees flowered continuously in the summer.

As soon as the forest ended, there was a railway track that had been burrowed through the ravines. We would watch from above the goods trains billowing smoke as they lumbered on the track moving laboriously towards their destinations. My brother would assume the role of the engine. We would be carriages who would stand in a line after him and clutch the clothes of our predecessors and run one after another with my brother in the lead shouting ‘chuk-chuk’ with his fingers spread and rotating like the wheels of a train.

My mother would take the local train from the nearby railway station for going to the education college where she was doing her BEd My brother, sister and I learnt cycling there. My father bought a new cycle and then made us go down the sloping road over and over again until we learnt to balance on the cycle without toppling.

We would go for picnics to the nearby parks carrying baskets laden with sandwiches and squash in glass bottles. We played as if there was no morrow, carefree of the future. I often remember with nostalgia those days spent in playing those guileless, harmless and artless games when we weren’t slaves of technology.