TODAY -

Childhood Adventures

Usham Tomba *

Children playing in a scene from the film nobap
Children playing in a scene from the film "nobap"



Memories of my childhood days never fail to bring a smile on my face. In fact, childhood must be the happiest days of one's life.

Living in a metro city like Delhi, I cannot but notice what these children here are missing. The kind of fun only someone who grew up in Imphal some 20 years back can understand.

Those days there were only two theatres which played Hollywood and Chinese Kung fu movies. Asha and Jina cinemas. Alas, they are no more.

We were around 8 years old then. And we roamed in groups. It was a routine for us to sneak out every Sunday morning for the latest Jackie Chan and other Kung fu flicks. All dressed in short pants we scrambled, shouted and pushed to get the tickets in queue. Somebody has to actually experience personally to understand what Imphal queue was like. And there was a flick called 'Double Revenge' that ran for about six months at a stretch!

Once inside the theatre each two of us used to share a single seat. That was friendship. And love. We never fail to get a seat for ourselves. When the theatre went houseful and nothing else worked out, the stool kept outside for the ticket checker to sit on came handy! When the light dimmed down we sneaked in the stool!

Coming back from the movie we generally made it a point to check out the war cemetery. On Sundays, there used to be lots of well dressed young girls and boys. It was only when I grew up that I realized why they were there. But for us the mango trees were our target. And we each had a 'naaori' at hand to display our marksmenship.

Sometimes, we practiced the Kung fu moves we witnessed in the movie earlier in the morning. We called it 'faait'. One fight today and tomorrow we were friends again.

One of the most interesting adventures was football matches. While it was customary to put up a bet, we often ran out of money and planned otherwise. We betted on kicks on the buttoms. The losers had to take on their buttoms from the winners. As understandable, such matches usually ended up in fights. Who would tolerate to lose such a match anyway? The Kung fu moves came handy at such a time.

Another adventure was swimming. There was not even a single good pond nearby that we had not swam in. Sometimes I felt that man could actually live in water. But there was always a fear of leeches going inside our anatomical apertures.

On the more adventurous days we used to go for 'Chinglai-hunting' in the 'Cheiraoching' hills. Once on top of the hill we told each other fearful stories of the hills and many different sporty ideas struck our young minds. One of the commonest being running downhill as fast as we could shouting 'Maningda laai na innarak e'.

Obviously, nobody wanted to be the last one running due to the assumed 'laai hingchaabi' chasing to catch the last running boy from behind. It was not uncommon for the last running boy to cry and scream with tearful eyes out of fear while running as fast as he could at the same time to catch up. And we would go there again and again. Nothing could stop our spirit.

And can you relate yourself when I remind you how hungry we were. The extra energy need for growth and all the adventures made a mountain-plate-ful of rice look too little.

Then came TV sets at homes with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. My favourite scene had always been when he pulled out his sword and scream. "I have the power". I tried that many times with our kitchen knife. But, the power is yet to come still.

As destiny being the sole decider, those memories remain a picture of me only few can see through what has become now of that once rustic boy. But at the deepest corner of my grown up heart lies the innocent little boy who never knew what a headache is, to whom the greatest fear was mama's oiled stick, the boundary of this planet was the distant blue hills behind the Porompat TV Tower and the best movie was the one with the maximum number of fights.

And I am sure you have your own childhood story to rejoice. \m/.


* Usham Tomba wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at tomba677(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on June 13 2012 .



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