Saturday, December 01, 2012

Of Childhood Bullies and Fist Fights

It was a re-union of sorts. It was at a friend's daughter's wedding, this being the season of nuptials. We had all lived in the same building in Chembur, in a lower middle class locality. There were a few tormentors of my younger days, a few of my best friends. Ah, there was also the girl I could die for, in fact most of us could, on seeing whom I had to hide my face. Not that I was embarrassed  but because age wasn't kind to her. She looked like a hag. I couldn't bear to look at the once-beautiful face and wondered what could have made her such a femme fatale in our younger days.

We all had changed and we all had remained the same. We have grown bald and white-haired. We had become pot-bellied or frightfully thin with our own particular diseases. Cricket was a passion with us, I remember waking up to the feeling of being the star left-arm bowler of the team. I could bat too. I had once scored around 30 runs coming in the tail end of the batting order. The captain, when he woke in the morning, came out with his head down, because the ugly girl who lived opposite his house was a bad omen for the team. Those days on which he sighted her inauspicious face, the team lost heavily.

We were one of the best cricket teams in Tilak Nagar, Chembur. Victory was sweet and so was defeat disappointing. We laughed and ate ice golas when we won and cried when we lost. We were a disparate bunch. Some studied in English-medium and some in Marathi-medium schools. Our differences were settled in fist fights. Yes, I had a few run ins with my contemporaries. I had challenged the bully and he had beat me badly once. Then we became friends again and had new respect for each other.

Well, we loved, fought, made up and played cricket, football, marbles, gilli danda, kabaddi, kho-kho and our days were filled with outdoor activity. How many of today's children know the exotic games we used to play? How many play any game at all? 

Those were the daze!

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

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