When we are young, we just can’t wait to grow up. I used to scan through my mother’s cupboard and admire her collection of sarees. My sister used to try out my aunt’s high-heel sandals. She even sprained her ankle once while walking in them. Sometimes we imitated the behaviour of grown-ups during role play.
Today, after leaving childhood far behind, I miss those days. My cousins and I reminisce about those wonderful times and unforgettable anecdotes with great pleasure. It is ironic that when we were actually going through those early years we never paid attention to the present, our sights were set on the future. We never thought that we would miss those times. Future seemed rosier than the present.
Childhood is the age of innocence. We laughed and smiled as easily as we cried and threw tantrums. Bitterness was forgotten as soon as we saw something sweet. Even a false compliment took us sky high and perched our spirit on the treetop. If we had friends to play with and treats to fill our pockets with, then we were rich. Back then, we felt quite powerless and looked up to the older folk and envied their authority.
With age came understanding. My company of friends is now filled with wise-brained adults. Something as simple as a smile can be interpreted in numerous ways, depending on the facts and circumstances. We seldom cry, at least not as often as in childhood. Compliments are dissected to see what’s behind the words. False compliments are now called ‘flattery’. We exercise authority over the children in our house yet we envy their carefree life. This is the irony of life.
The age of innocence was filled with curiosity about every aspect of being an adult. Our heads were filled with “Why?, How? When?”. As all queries met their answers, curiosity died. Life turned into one big chore. Today, excitement is not a feeling we experience often. For this, we were desperate to grow up!
Now as our legs are racing to the future, our heads turn back to see what we are leaving behind. The heart still longs for that beautiful world of innocence. Now we try to bring back to life the little child inside us that we left ignored for decades. This is the greatest irony of life.
I was watching Jimmy Kimmel’s show and was rolling with laughter watching the pranks he plays on Aunt Chippy. Though I feel sad for Aunty Chippy, I can’t stop laughing. Jimmy plays a lot of pranks on the people close to him and challenges the audience to try some pranks too. Jimmy reminds me of my childhood, particularly my uncle. He was also someone who enjoyed playing pranks on people around him. It was always amusing to his audience and distasteful to his victims. Just like Aunt Chippy, his victims protested but none of them took it to heart.
I was about seven years old when we once had an earthquake in my city. It was just a mild tremor and no damage was done to person or property. We just felt a jolt and some tremors. Uncle came home and asked us to co-operate with this prank he was going to play on my aunt. When he walked into the room, he told her that the earthquake caused the Charminar (a giant historic monument in the heart of Hyderabad) to move at least ten feet.
We all gasped. We were just helping uncle in his prank. My innocent aunt at first stared in disbelief and said, “Shut up! What nonsense are you saying?”. Then uncle added, “People are shocked and it is the talk of the town. They might put it up on the evening news today and it will surely make headlines in tomorrow’s papers. People are thronging to see the Charminar.” By this point she had started to fall for the prank and started asking questions lapping up all the fake news. That’s when everyone burst into laughter and she realized it was a prank.
On another occasion he convinced my then three-year-old cousin that he was not his mother’s baby but was actually adopted from a beggar on the street. The poor little boy fell for it; hook, line and sinker. He burst into tears and hid his face in his mother’s lap. Later, we told him that it was a joke.
There is no end to the stories about his pranks. Even to this day, whenever we talk about him we end up laughing until our bellies hurt. Today he is an old man with a frail body frame that is slightly bent over. He lost a lot of his hair and wears glasses and even today he always makes us laugh with his antics. I can say with confidence that his pranks brought all my cousins closer together and bond with each other because of the wonderful and funny memories we share.