I have loads of summer memories. When we were young, school usually closed by the end of March and opened bang on June 1 with the first downpour of the South-West monsoon.
So, we were left to ourselves for two whole months, to do what we wanted. Summers in Kerala are not as fierce as in the North. The temperature usually idled at 31 degrees for the most part but with the sea close by, it could be humid as hell. But not even the 100 per cent humidity would sap our energies even a tiny bit.
Most of our time would be spent outdoors in activities that would put today’s multi-taskers to shame. We played seven stones and cricket for most of the time and when the mid-day beat hard on us, we escaped indoors to fierce bouts over Monopoly and Scrabble. The female population in our neighbourhood was abysmally low (there was only the two of us!) and unless, I outshouted the boys, I was never taken seriously… And that’s the reason, folks, that I became a champion debater 🙂
Summer itself was a huge camp, where we learnt many lessons.
Summers also meant lots of food to go with it. While Narayana maama next door would willingly ply us with jambakas (juicy rose apples), it’d be quite a task to steal raw mangoes from Naresh bhai’s five mango trees, a couple of which encroached on our terrace. We used the paata vadi (walking stick, a relic from my parent’s kasha yatra wedding ceremony!) to bring down the pricey priyoors (a sweet mango variety) to the background music of mausi (gosh! I still don’t know her name) screaming at us in a mixture of Gujarati and Malayalam. The sliced mangoes would then be dipped in salt and chilli powder and greedily had. Ah! Many years down the line, I still believe that there’s nothing to beat the taste of stolen mangoes!
At other times, we would have ara nellikais (the small juicy gooseberries) from Soumya’s home and green tamarind from the house opposite hers. Just thinking of the green tamarind (or pulli) gives me the goose bumps… so sour they used to be! But then we had to keep eating, and so we ate what nature provided us, interspersing them of course with the customary breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
When the cool breeze blew in the evening, we played badminton and worked up quite a sweat. Or we simply sat on the wall chatting and amused by the loud shouts of the boys playing cricket in the temple ground a little farther away! Sometimes, we listened to ghost stories our neighbour told us… with all the drama and special effects… that made our hair stand on end 🙂
Summer brought with it a fair share of drama too. Official half-hour power cuts and unofficial load shedding that went on for hours. While we wondered what happened to cute Shah Rukh Khan in Fauji (yes, I did find him cute once upon a time!)! Ah! The heart-break! You couldn’t even ask anyone what happened because the entire area had a power cut!
I could go on and on… the vathals, vadams, kappa pappadams and karudams on the terrace. Eating them partly dried and getting tummy aches. The very important vadu maanga (or kanni maanga pickle) making session, the ripe mangoes that we ate whole with the juice dripping down our mouths, shiny one-rupee coins as Vishu kaineetam (money is usually given to children by elders on Vishu day) and so much more.
The summers of 80s and 90s… I wouldn’t trade them for anything in this world… like so many other memories from my childhood.