My school friend called me yesterday (14 Nov 2016). We were in the same class from Nursery to 12th. We used to study together for exams in some of the years.
She was remembering one children’s day celebration that I had organised at my place. I like to rummage through old stuff, which is aplenty in our 150+ year old house and the ground surrounding it (we used to own a ginning factory). One fine day in the late 90s or in the year 2000, I found a framed photograph of Jawaharlal Nehru. Children’s Day was approaching, and a Hindi lesson where a gang of girls decide to clean up their village was influencing me a lot. So I decided to have a gathering where we make our own gang of girls.
Incidentally, the leader of the fictional gang and my friend N shared the same name. That made me believe that we can bring about a ‘Kranti’ – a revolution.
I called up all the interested girls in our class on the 13th. I am happy to say most of them turned up. We were about 6-8 attendees at the gathering.
I dusted Chacha Nehru’s photograph, took out the jumbo chattai (carpet) to spread under the neem tree in our ground – the venue for the gathering, and cleared the neem twigs with a kharata (broom). At around 12 o’clock, the photograph was propped up on the chair, which was kept near the carpet.
My Mom had made snacks for us. I don’t remember clearly, but all the attendees brought something from their home. Yes, I think they did.
The gathering was planned with utmost detail. When all had arrived, we lit an agarbatti (incense stick) as homage to the great soul. I had prepared a speech, which seemed very inspiring to me. Everybody listened till they could, and then shut me up. 😐
We played passing the parcel. The winner got a prize. Then we had our dabbas in the cool breeze under the neem tree, which gave us shade in the otherwise sunny afternoon. Time seemed to stop. When the meeting was over, handkerchiefs were handed out to everyone as a return gift. (I got to know afterwards that giving a handkerchief to someone is considered a bad omen. Your friendships turn sour, if you do. Well, I am happy to say that it is not so and they might be saying that for used hankys ‘cos they spread infections. We all have retained touch with each other and have stronger ties than ever.)
Of course, we did not realise the significance then. We do now. It was an attempt to freeze our childhood which was running out fast – all of us were in already in our teens.
We fought over the futility of the idea, there was reluctance in getting together, but when we did – we made a merry afternoon of the gathering. There were many such gatherings (not on children’s day) at intervals of 5-6 years after each. The reluctance was always present, last minute drop-outs were coaxed and dragged into the train/car to Lonavala and we kept on making memories like that noon.
Thanks N, for reminding me of that Children’s Day yesterday! Love you, and love our gang of girls!