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Monsoon of Memories: When summer vacations were the busiest days of our lives

By Purva Grover Email By Purva Grover
June 2022
Monsoon of Memories: When summer vacations were the busiest days of our lives

The three dreaded words we often hear children say during the summer vacation are: I am bored. In an ever-changing world, this may be one of the things that hasn’t changed.

As much as I waited for the school to close for summer to provide some much-needed relief from the sun, and rejoiced in the fact that I’d not have to wake up early to catch the school bus, I do recall missing school the very next day after it had closed for the two months’ break. Did I ever utter the dreaded words? I am pretty sure I did!

Yet, when I look back at the summer months of my childhood, I remember them as the busiest time of my life. There was always too much to do and, yet, almost as a ritual, we complained of boredom.

It’s not always easy to go back to what you leave behind, but let me start by walking you to the neighborhood park, which was not quite green or injury-proof. It was there, under the sun, that I spent many hours playing. The word “playing” had a different meaning back then, though—it involved real bruises, real fights, and real awards.

After we’d played a little too much of the traditional games like Vish-Amrit (Lock-N-Key), Chhupan- Chhupai (Hide-N-Seek), Staapu (Hopscotch), and more, we’d move on to our self-invented games. Or we’d assign ourselves challenges such as climbing a tree, cycling all the way to another end of the road, or playing detective to find the lost solo sock of a neighbor.

We’d return home exhausted and dirty; and yet, not keen to waste time in sleeping but in instantly getting engaged in another activity. One of the activities that we looked forward to the most, while at home, was to bring out all the notebooks from the previous academic session and “check” them—like we had seen our teachers do—with a red pen in hand. I still don’t know what was so charming about borrowing a pair of spectacles and painstakingly adding tick marks—sometimes remarks and comments too—in red to each sheet, but it was one of the highlights of those months. Just as it was to use the empty sheets in the notebooks to play Name, Place, Animal, Thing—the oldest word game—which too, sadly, one can play online these days.

On other days, we spent hours “building a house” with any piece of fabric and any item from the kitchen that we were allowed to use. As we played Ghar-Ghar (House), the time spent actually playing was often far less than the time we spent in setting up the house. The cleaning after, of course, took the longest. However, for a few days, we made cleaning a part of our day’s activities and were encouraged to declutter and donate books, toys, clothes, and more that we’d outgrown. And so there we’d be—sitting in that big mess and laughing over how we loved a certain character or how we had dressed up and embarrassed our parents.

The months of June and July were a time of merriment, even as we nursed the stitches on the knees. When the summer gave way to monsoon, we made paper boats with wrapping sheets that had been kept safe for the exact purpose. We’d overstuff ourselves with candies and mangoes, wait for cousins to visit us, help mum and dad lay the table, get a shorter haircut, and much more. We did watch television in those days; but the focus was to play more, sleep less; and only after all that would the idea of watching a show or a movie appear. And when we were done with everything from long showers to overstretched board game sessions we would, purely out of habit, say: I am bored.

Purva Grover is an author, journalist, poet, playwright, and stage director. A postgraduate in mass communication and literature, she is the founder-editor of The Indian Trumpet, a digital magazine for Indian expats in the UAE. She can be reached at grover.purva@gmail.com. To comment on this article, please write to letters@khabar.com.

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