HALF OF SUMMER
As time progresses, school classes evolve into college lectures, field trips into week long study tours, friends into ‘home team’, longing for restaurant food turns into ghar ka khana craving, nap time into grocery shopping time and vacation is all about coming home even if it is for a 9 to 5 internship. Reminiscent of the time when one of the two months of summer break meant nani ka ghar, I got to talking to one of my friends once and she said, ‘Hey! You just found your next blog!’ and this is an effort to execute the idea.
When I take a moment to recall my nani ka ghar days, the memories reach beyond the extent of my closed fists and the moment always lasts longer than I expect it to. It used to be an annual experience, a month long till I was in middle school, then it came down to 20-15 days with the high school medley and finally just a week before I had to move to a different city for college, but yes it did happen for almost every year.
Preparations would start a few weeks in advance with the entire shopping spree; collecting gifts for every individual and most importantly, rechecking the tickets to see if you got the date right. We were a group of five over enthusiastic cousins that met annually and fought unimaginably when left alone but stood for each other when a second party was involved. One of the highlights – Nani ke haath ka khana is a blessing no one should be devoid of. I would have an entire list and needless to say, always returned with a kg or two gained. Summer meals with family form a very memorable part of any summer break because at the end of the hot meal came fresh and cool fruits. All kinds of mangoes in varied forms; mango shake for breakfast, mango ice cream or simple fruit post lunch and then some more post dinner. Lychee, watermelon and muskmelon are the other essentials because these fruits come with summer remembrance wrapped around them. Lychee always meant having more than my sister and I loathed the watermelon seeds that interrupted my pleasure. They are right in saying that meals help traverse the road of togetherness.
As kids, my uncle would insist on getting up at 5 in the morning to play and exercise but he never got an encouraging response for more than 2 days. Instead, we enjoyed the evenings. After hobby classes, Nanu would take us to a park down the lane and we’d always bargain for more time. At hobby classes, we tried to put our 10 hands combined in different activities – sand painting, calligraphy, Bollywood dance, Salsa and countless others. It was our mechanism to deal with the regret of ignoring any holiday home work from school. While the adults indulged themselves in photo album sessions and more shopping, our group would get together to get friendlier with the neighbours’ kids, play detective games, do some choreography and as we grew older, even go out for a drive. Later even the park visits were replaced with badminton time with colony friends, on the streets in front of the house and none of us would return until dinner time. It is really a different authority you feel over that part of the road.
My personal favourite would be the Housie sessions post dinner (which gave me some ‘hard earned’ money), late night movie marathons, late night meals of Maggie and chips and the rain dance to welcome the monsoon. We’d dance on the terrace with the first showers and then bring buckets of water until our hearts were satisfied when the rain ended.
Broadly most of our years comprised of this activities with some moderations here or there. Sometimes we’d take a road trip to nearby cities and others we just spent playing some decent card games with Nanu. Gradually, as the trip’s duration decreased, we started exhausting the capacity of marking new adventures on a daily basis and sat recollecting the old ones to refresh the wonderful days. It is important, as I was once told and have begun to believe, to not only live but also remember because ultimately it is these memories that we shall move along with. It was during these trips that I realised that we have limited time (not life wise but a month is a month – 30 days) and we train ourselves to manage all the activities in that duration. Summer started getting booked for other priorities – school trips, college admissions and now internships. There are some people with whom we spend the best time of our childhood and some of us are blessed to have those people for the rest of our lives. From our group of five, we are studying or working in different cities now but we do look forward to this annual trip, no matter how short it is because some things are worth holding on for.