My parents live in one of those upcoming localities in Bangalore where the land is the price of gold & still rising. But 25 yrs back it was a paddy field nobody wanted. I remember when my father decided to pick up the land my mother was not very happy about it. At that time we were living in a colony in Indranagar where every facility was within reach. She was like -how are we going to survive in this deserted area where a bus runs only once in three hours and the nearest grocery shop is ½ a kilometer away. But my father saw the potential & immediately picked up a double plot.
Soon we shifted into a rented house closeby so that we could monitor our new house being built. There were just 2 other houses in the surrounding area and the rest of the area was covered with grape vineyard & a guava orchard. At night, it was pitch dark outside as there were no street lights & even the torch light was just an eerie 4 inch oval shaped glow.
Though I missed my friends at the colony I took to the new place immedietely. My sister and I had acres of vacant land to ourselves and wherever we were, my mother could keep an eye on us. Our nearest neighbours were distant relatives(they were the people who convinced my father to buy the land) with 3 boys who loved my mothers cooking & would find excuses to wander over to our house(they needed excuses coz my father came across as very stern and forbiddingJ). They didn’t have sisters & so adopted us as their own & kept us occupied with pranks & tall stories.
My sister and I would go with them on their bicycles to the guava orchard to buy Rs.1 worth of Guavas. We could buy 10 guavas for that amount. But by the time we speed back to the boundaries of the orchard, we would have more than what we started out with. As we rode back home thru the orchard, these boys would ride the bicycle standing up and pluck all the guava overlooking the path. We sisters would be perched precariously behind on the rear seat, not even holding on to anything coz we are busy holding the cloth bags open for them to slide in the guavas. We would ofcourse dispose the extras in a hurried “Who can eat fastest” contest before reaching home with correct number of Guavas.
Once the youngest brother(he was some 3 yrs older to me) was planting some colorful looking greens in the garden. He had dug the ground up in some weird design & he made us sisters fetch and carry throughout the entire exercise. Only when the greens grew lushly we realized that he had carved his name SABU on the ground and planted the seeds in. He showed off his creativity to everybody and our efforts figured nowhere in the list. When we expressed our dissatisfaction he mollified us with “Next time I’ll make a design with both your names” which ofcourse never materialized.
And I clearly remember this one incident when my father opened the front door at night for some reason, there was this cobra with its hood spread swaying in front of him. Later he told us how he was paralyzed with shock & couldn’t move for 10 secs. He closed the door and we shouted for help from our window. Who else but 2 of the three brothers turned up with sticks, killed the snake & burnt it. They then trooped in to the house like warriors, and my mother hurriedly whipped up a meal for them. While they ate, they treated us to a magical hour of snake tales & warnings wherein we were advised to be extra vigilant coz now the female snake will be on the warpath looking to extract revenge. Of course the risk was lesser now cause they used their superior brains and burnt the snake after killing it but one never knows. I remember how my sister & I lived in fear looking over our shoulders and under the beds for the next 1 week, after which ofcourse the story lost its bite.
As time flew by, we shifted to our then new house. Buildings started sprouting everywhere & we made new friends. The path to their house grew longer as the shortcut we used to reach their house was blocked by barbed fences and other barriers. What was a 1 minute shortcut became a 5 minute walk. We’d only see each other when we’d both happen to be up on the terrace at the same time. We then proceed to have a conversation at the top of our voices, for ½ an hour, with elaborate gestures.
Once we saw the eldest & the youngest together on the terrace hanging their clothes on the line. After 2 minutes of ‘over the top’ conversation, Sabu the youngest motioned that he was coming over. He came over in 5 minutes and pressed a brown paper bag glazed with oil on the sides, in my hand. Pointing towards his brother who was standing on the terrace “Sam got his first salary today, so….” said Sabu trailing off. He sped away immediately on his bicycle. We looked towards their terrace, gestured our thanks to Sam who was still standing there and got into the house eagerly to open the packet. The packet revealed a big stone and some sand. My mother, sis and I looked at each other confused. In a flash it clicked, we let out a howl of fury & rushed out to look towards their terrace. Both of them were laughing like maniacs. It was April Fools Day. We were royally conned. We shook our fists at them but at the same couldn’t help laughing at their ingenuity. By the end of the day my sis & I fooled 5 other households in the neighborhood with the same gag.
Even now as I am tapping this incident into the computer I’m having difficulty holding my laughter in & in the process my eyes are stinging.
As I wind up this post, snatches of memories crowd together in my mind waiting to be let out…
…..we would all sit together to eat our meals & these boys would show us something outside the window & when we looked back into our plates, the pappadams would be missing.
…..if our school declared a holiday, they would boast that it was them who advised OUR principal to give us a holiday.
…..they would hold a dance competition & win it always just because the youngest brother could shake his head sideways as in a bharatnatyam dance(my sis & i used to go green with envy coz v couldnt)
…..we played snakes and ladders when it rained, flew kites in summer, burst crackers for diwali, made HUGE stars for Christmas…..
……I can go on.
So am I in touch with them now……? is the most obvious question. No. I’m not. I’m not in touch with any of them. All 3 are married with families and reside abroad. I have 'bychance' met them twice or thrice in these past 10 years. Whenever we happen to meet we are genuinely happy to see each other. We agree to catch up on what happening with each other at a more appropriate time but it just never happened.
In my day to day life I hardly give them a thought. Some 3 yrs back, out of the blue I dreamt that Sabu crashed his car somewhere. I called my mom up & related my fear. She told me they were all fine & not to worry. And that was that.
I just wish them well wherever they are. They may not be a part of my life now but my childhood memories are never complete without them.
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