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My Grandfather Reminisces About His Childhood
When letters, kerosene lamps, and real conversations reigned supreme.
My brothers and I would wake up before the break of dawn to the rooster’s crowing. Yawning and rubbing our eyes, we would head to the barn for our first chore of the day.
While a few of us cut up hay for the cattle to munch on, the rest fetched pails and pails of water from the well to first fill the cattle’s water hole and then our water tank.
As the others left, I would stay for a while to sit and watch Ramu eat. Our Ramu was a magnificent bullock — he stood 6 feet tall, had a voracious appetite, and bellowed loudly.
Despite all his might, he was a pretty calm and docile fellow that loved having the tuft of fur on his head tickled or a hand run over his smooth hide.
My father and uncle would then take Ramu and the other bullocks and head to our farm.
Ravenous after the strenuous work, we would devour a breakfast of steamy Idlis (Fermented rice cakes), Dosas (Fermented rice & black gram pancakes), or Upma (Spiced semolina pudding) and wash it down with a tall glass of fresh milk.
We would then grab our tiffin boxes and make our way to school — 8km away and in another village.
Accompanied by my brothers, cousins, and friends, the two-hour walk used to be a fun journey.
We would crack jokes, spin yarns, and as we passed through an orchard, we would knock down and snack on some berries. On the rare occasions that we got caught, we would receive a good beating from the watchman.
Sometimes if we were lucky and a tractor or lorry was passing by, we would hitch a ride.
At school, we would sit on the floors with a slate and a piece of chalk. After two to three hours, we would grab our lunch boxes and run outside.
Under the cool shade of the trees, with birds chirping and cicadas screeching, we would sit on the ground and open our lunch boxes. Lunch would usually be rice and Gonghura pacchadi (Sorrel leaves pickle) or Kaaram (Chilli chutney).
On days without any afternoon classes, we would head to the nearby well to cool off. Splashing and frolicking in the cold water with the scorching sun overhead, we would lose track of time.
After snacking on some roasted peanuts or spiced raw mango slices bought from a roadside hawker, we would head back home.
We would reach home late in the evening, throw our bags on the floor, and go outside to play — Marbles, Hide and Seek, Hopscotch, Gilli Danda, Gully cricket, etc.
We would play till the sun came down and the scent of kerosene lamps filled the air. Sometimes we would keep playing until our mothers came to drag us home for dinner — rice and Pappu (Dal) or Kaaram (Chutney).
On Sundays, we would have chicken curry and Raagi sangati (Finger millets) for lunch. After such a heavy lunch, we would siesta, wake up in the evening, and play till dinner.
During harvest times especially the summer, we would feast on muskmelons, watermelons, mangoes, papayas, sugarcane, and groundnuts.
Once in a while, on the weekends, we would go to the movies. It would be a really long walk to and fro. We would leave by the break of dawn and return by nightfall. Exhausted, we would collapse into bed to wake up and do the daily chores, as usual, the next morning.
The arrival of an uncle or aunt would fill us with excitement. We would cling to them and beg them to stay when they were leaving.
We worked hard, played hard, and ate to our fill. We stayed fit, healthy, and most of us never needed glasses. Human relationships held more value than money. Life was simple, stress-free, and great.
Most of today’s kids are glued to electronic screens, stressed out, and spend less time outdoors leading to obesity and other health issues from a young age.
Ahhh! Those were the times.
As my grandfather finished his nostalgic narrative, I fell into deep thought.
Technology and the internet have taken over our lives.
Socialization has become akin to social media.
Being online all the time has made us forget the bliss of being offline — to reconnect with ourselves and others.
I realized the importance of taking time off technology and from our busy lives every now and then to cherish what it’s to be human.
“In a world of algorithms, hashtags, and followers, know the true importance of human connections”