Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

Approaching adolescence

February 26, 2019

She lies on the bed, unaware of me,
Reading intently.
In the lines of her lengthening limbs
I see a young woman emerging
From the girl.
And yet, in the curve of the cheek
And the gentle dimples in her elbows,
I find childhood lingering
For a while longer.
Linger longer, O childhood!
For once you are gone
This little one will forever be
An adult, never to return
To this level of innocence again

Ek nagm

October 25, 2013

Ek bachpan kA zamAna thA,
jismE khushiyOn kA khazAna thA;

There was a world of childhood,
Where there was a treasury of joys;

chAhat chAnd kO pAnE kI thI,
par dil titli kA dIwAnA thA.

The ambition was to get the moon,
But the heart wanted the butterfly, too.

khabar na thI kuch subah kI,
na shAm kA thikAnA thA;

There was no knowledge of mornings
No certainty of the evenings;

thak hArke AnA padhAyI sE,
par khElnE bhI jAnA thA.

We’d come tired from school
But we could go and play.

mA kI kahAnI thI,
pariyOn kA fasAnA thA;
bArish mEn kAgaz kI nAv thI,
har mausam suhAnA thA.

There were mother’s stories,
Stories about fairies;
There were paper boats in the rains;
Every season was pleasant.

har khEl mEn sAthI thE,
har rishtA nibhAnA thA;
gam kI zubAn na hOtI thI,
na zakhmOn kA paimAnA thA.

There were friends for every game,
Every relationship was important;
There was no sorrow,
Nor the pain of wounds.

rOnE kI wajah na thI,
na hansne kA bahAnA thA;
kyOn hO gayE ham itnE badE,
isse achhA tO wOh bachpan kA zamAnA thA…

No cause to cry,
No pretense in laughter;
Why have we grown up…
Our world of childhood was better….

Children at play

September 19, 2013

We adults had events all chalked out…we’d go boating in Forest Park. We finished our activity, the children did enjoy it…but while we were waiting for our cars, KTB and her friend Ananya ran around the grass, playing so happily…


They were joined by two more girls, who never worried about who they were, and just joined in. Here’s one of them:


This was, truly, frolicking in the grass:



Horsing around…






Life IS a bed of clover, that can be picked:


Thinking of mischief, perhaps…




The children didn’t bother about structured “activity”…they enjoyed whatever time they had, without thinking twice about it…it was such a delight watching them frisking in the grass and tearing around.



January 27, 2013

260113 svnhalli children

In the sunshine, the children play.
Cheerful shouts, and innocence.
Adulthood is yet a while away…
Cares and worries, worldly-sense…

But right now, they laugh together,
In the welcome, wintry sun.
I look at them, and wonder whether
They’ll look back on this day of fun.

Our immortality lies in our children.
I’m off to welcome the latest one.
I love children…so then
It’ll be a joy to greet my grandson.

Children’s toy…

October 9, 2012

When there are power cuts for long periods, when money is an issue, children are happy with traditional toys, too. Here’s a video of a boy with a toy:

And here are the children, waving happily to Amith and me as we drive away!

children 071012  anekal

Who knows where these children will be, in the future…right now, they are in the State, not only of Karnataka, but the universal one, of Innocence…

A wonderful part of my childhood…and life….

December 14, 2011

suddenly changed his Facebook userpic to that of a little devil, red, with cute little horns, a forked tail, and a trident….and that brought my “comic-book” past rushing back to my mind.

I grew up with a world of comics. Dell,Disney,Classics Illustrated,Gold Key, Harvey,…my mother bought them by the dozen, and had them bound (the whole collection is still there in Chennai!). Little Lotta, Spooky, Casper, Little Dot, Little Audrey, Baby Huey, Richie Rich, Wendy the Witch (Casper’s girlfriend!) and Hot Stuff (the little devil mentioned above) were all part of

Harvey Comics ;

You can see some of the images


Donald, Daisy, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and Unca Scrooge….the Beagle Boys, Mickey, Goofy, Pluto and the lesser-known characters like Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle, and Gyro Gearloose (along with that little bulb man who was SO smart!) were all part of the world of Disney. I particularly loved the work of

Carl Barks

which was very witty and gripping.

Classics Illustrated introduced me to so many works of literature, that I read in the original later. The artwork was always brilliant!

We also got the British weekly comic magazines, The Topper, The Dandy, and The Beano. Some of the characters (a Dennis the Menace different from Hank Ketcham’s creation, a Beryl the Peril, a Julius Cheeser, and Mickey the Monkey…) were superb. Earlier, I also remember comics for younger children which had characters like Sooty, and Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men…I can’t remember the name of those comics.

Oh…these comics…were just wonderful. Off I would go, into a world of fantasy, adventure and laughter, while the new comics lasted…and I would often read the old ones. I realize, now, how high the quality of work was, consistently!

Of course, then the Archie comics also came along and I also loved Hagar the Horrible, B.C., Garfield, some (not all) of Charles Schultz, Blondie, Mutt’n’Jeff, and the magical, superb Calvin and Hobbes…

Amar Chitra Katha was also a major part of our reading, and introduced us to Indian mythology and folklore. Tinkle was a regular part of my daughter’s childhood, and she enjoyed contributing, too. Suppandi and Kalia and the rest kept her childish fancies happy….

Comics have always formed a great part of my life…and I salute the extremely talented artists that have enriched my life and imagination. I may not read the depressing headlines in the morning paper, but I never fail to read the comics!

Thank you, Ga, for the happy trip down memory lane.

A Hymn

September 6, 2011

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brighten up the sky;

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them, every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows for our play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who made all things so well.

As a child, in Svarna School in Kolkata, this was our daily school prayer, and at first, I was not clear about all the words (verse 3 is generally omitted nowadays.)

click here for the Wiki entry

on this hymn, written by Mrs. Cecil F. Alexander (from Dublin, Ireland)

in the village of Dunster. It serves well as a secular prayer. Today, as I get more interested in Nature and wildlife, this prayer takes on added meaning.

Story-telling in childhood…

August 2, 2011

I suddenly decided to read the Kenneth Anderson ombibus of stories again, and while reading “Tales of the Supernatural”, I paused while my mind went back to my childhood, and the days of being told horror stories.

I have always been a voracious reader, especially of fiction, but there is a certain something to having a story told to one. There are the regular folk tales and the mythological tales that are told over the meal. During the summer holidays, we would visit Madras, and a horde of cousins would be called in to sit in a circle, with one aunt having made two large bowls, one of sambar shAtham and one of thayir shAtham. We had banana-flower petals or little bits of plantain leaves set in front of us, and vegetables and pickled would be served on this. Each child had to extend his or her right hand (the left hand, being considered unclean, was never allowed) and in turn, the aunt would drop just enough of the rice into it, for the child to eat.What fun meal-times were, with the aunt also telling us a story! One day it would be Tenali Raman’s turn to stun us with his wit and humour and lateral thinking; one day it would be the tales of Rama and Seetha and their journey into the jungle, one day it would be a tale from the Panchatantra.. Certainly we were never told tales from other countries..just the Tamizh folklore was rich enough for my aunts. Ah, how the food would disappear, as we listened! Those who listened and grew intent and forgot to put drops of “vattha kuzhambu” on their curd rice got a scolding.

My mother, too, always had the habit of reading several Tamizh story books and serials from the many magazines she bought, while my brother and I ate our dinner (steel plates, and by now, we were old enough to mix the rice ourselves and eat it!)

But there were the story-telling sessions by our peers, too. These generally occurred in the afternoons when the heat drove even us children indoors, and we would lie under the tiles of the verandah, or cluster under the single creaking fan in the large front hall. While the adults had their siesta, our older cousins would tell us tales of movies they’d seen, and of novels that they had read (surrpetitiously…it was not an activity that was encouraged!)

But best of all was when all of us had spread out rush mats on the floor of the hall, and lay down; the lights were extinguished (in the villages where some of my aunts lived, it was just Petromax lanterns or oil lamps…electricity often failed, and was hardly missed!) In the hot darkness, the voice of one cousin would begin a ghost or horror story. Our imaginations would supply the gory details that the cousin left out, and probably each of us pictured a scenario very different from that of the others, depending on what informed our childish imaginations. I remember four of us lying in my aunt and uncle’s bedroom, with the moonlight flooding in at the window, being told the story of “Dracula”. It was years later that I actually read the story, but how I remember the fear I felt! None of us could sleep very well afterwards, and we needed to go and visit the toilet only in twosomes, never alone! All of us would not get up at the first call of the adults the next morning, and would go to the “kollai” (rear of the house) to brush our teeth with water from the backyard tap, feeling rather foolish at having been so scared the previous night.

Horror stories have, I think, a special place in every childhood…the latest theory-mongers would have us believe that it would probably warp a child’s personality..but I think such things helped us immensely. We could face our fears and tell ourselves that “it was a story, after all”….and we felt braver for having faced the fear, and that made us more courageous next time. But, of course, several of the younger children often broke into tears during the course of the night, after having heard some tale of horror and mystery!

We got to know the usual mythological stories and Jataka tales and stories from our rich culture. For some reason, the story of the crow, the fox and the vadai was the very first tale told to a child….I simply cannot understand why, and yet, that is the first tale I’ve told my grand-daughter, too!


is the song, from the Tamizh movie “ammA engE”, narrating this story.

Over the years, my mother kept reading us from childhood stories to more adult fiction…she would read out both good stories by noted authors like Rajaji, Kalki Krishnamurthy, or Kee Vaa Jagannathan, and playwrights such as “Marina”. How well I remember the wonderful scenes evoked by a serial called “Minnal, mazhai, mohini”!

It was our introduction to Tamizh literature, and to popular Tamizh magazines like “Ananda Vikatan”, “Kalki” and “Kumudam”. She also read some Hindi stories and novels, and some Bengali ones too….she actually learnt Bengali when she moved to Calcutta, and learnt it well enough to read novels like “Anando Matth” in the original!

When we were left with a friend’s family while our parents went to parties for the evening, it was Alamelu Mami who told us the most delightful tales. Scenes from royal courts, tales of wit, talking animals…they all came alive before our eyes. What a treasure those long evenings were! Very often, my brother would refuse to go home with my parents at night, and would bargain, before being dropped off, to stay there overnight and come back only the next morning!

The rich variety of stories that I heard (not just read) has enriched my life and my imagination, and I give thanks for a childhood that was filled with story-telling.

My daughter, when she was very young….

May 13, 2011

I suddenly thought of the things that delighted me when my daughter was young..

One day, she came to me crossly and said, “NOW what shall I do? You’ve already gone and married Appa.”

Once she asked me if I had paid her school feeses.

She wrote the following in some essays:

1. In school, we have a uniform. We have to wear a skirt and shit.

2. When my class went to the Zoo we had to take admission forms.

I was checking her Maths paper (she was in Class 3) and she got a preposterous answer for one sum. “You taught me how to borrow!” she said proudly. She then explained that she had borrowed…a number from the next sum!

We went to see “pathinAru vayathinilE” (“At Age 16), a Kamalahasan and Sridevi Tamizh movie, where Kamalahasan wears a kOmaNam (langOti), or loincloth. “That’s a different kind of underwear,” she announced, confidently…and loudly.

The first time she saw a hospital nurse, wearing white stockings, she came and told me in a hushed voice, “That lady has powdered her legs all over!”

Always having seen photographs of Indira Gandhi with her saree over her head, she saw a bus full of nuns with their habits, and said, “A bus full of Indira Gandhis!”

Her father had had a heart attack and had gone through several procedures, and then we moved briefly to Madurai. When she saw the board that said, “Bypass Road” (the road bypasses Madurai town and goes to Tiruchi), she asked, “Is there also an Angiogram Road?”

She wanted to play at home once, but we forced her to come with us, and took her to Chikpet. While we bargained for light fixtures and other household-related stuff, I didn’t want her in the congested shop, so she was sitting in the car in front of the shop. She started crying. “Why are you crying?” we asked her. “We brought you because wanted to spend time with you.”
“But you aren’t, that’s why I’m crying,” she replied.

My bebby…I had about 22 nicknames for her, and I still do occasionally use them…I am still only on my third nickname or so, for KTB!


July 17, 2008

I realized, recently, that I very rarely live in the past. The present is so exciting and interesting to me that I don’t have the habit of harking back to the past (and even if I do, I don’t use the rose-tinted spectacles that many people do. I can remember all the bad things of the past as well as the good ones…waiting several years for a hardly-working telephone, having a choice of 3 cars, Ambassador, Fiat, and Herald, and waiting several years for one of those as well…not just the fact that once upon a time petrol used to cost Rs. 2.50 per litre, and roads were not choked with traffic.)

But I have been enjoying thinking over my childhood days in Calcutta Kolkata, dwelling on the brother who was part of them all. And I think I am going to do a lot of “memory” posts, so that my daughter has a sense of life “back then”.

For boys, in the Calcutta of the 60’s, apart from cricket and football, which were both religions, there used to be various “seasons”. Apart from the cricket season which was in winter, there were the kite season, the marbles (gOli) season, (winter), the gilli danda season, the kabaddi season…I never could figure out how the boys knew when one had gone and the other was happening…but so it was.

about kite-flying in my childhood, and my brother’s….