How many years ago was that? I’ll try if I remember anything as I can hardly remember where I placed my glasses a minute ago.
Friends had been sharing the moments they enjoyed so much when they were children. Mind you, that was a different environment from where we are today.
Then, we felt safe in our neighborhood. We played in the streets. We walked to school unaccompanied, and after school, we played with friends. Primarily, our parents had no clue where we were. Most parents then had only one rule: to be home before dark.
When we celebrated our golden jubilee in our old high school, which means 50 years after graduation, most of our friends remembered best our traversing the path home in the rain, carrying our slippers for fear that they might break we’ll get a good one from our mothers.
We slid in the mud, pushing one another in great delight. We couldn’t think of any bullies among us. If a hint comes out, we will get it from our parents. This fear was more than enough to keep us within the line.
We had close friends, but we played with almost anyone. Even the older kids never bullied us. They taught us many things, or some ignored us. As the bell rings, signaling the end of classes, the streets stream with kids in uniforms as classrooms empty in various directions.
After school is the best time of the day for most of us. There was still time to play before we had to go home to do our chores.
We hardly had toys at home, so we stayed in the streets with our friends. We thought of games to play, stories to tell, fruit trees to climb, and infrequently go home with a friend to eat simple left-overs at their house, which often meant cold rice and dried fish. But thinking about it now, we salivate as if we were in front of a hugely delicious feast.
The games we played consisted mainly of using stones, old cans, or bottles. Whatever we can find around. We marked the perimeters on the ground with sticks. Oh, we played with sticks, too. We had plenty of fun. But when we showed how we played these games to our children and grandchildren, they smirked at us with their bored faces.
On weekends, we often went for exploration. This activity was best immediately aftermath a storm. We all head to the river. The river in our tiny town became a beehive of activity. We gathered firewood, built temporary wells showing these off to each other, swam, floated in the water, and helped our family with washing clothes.
Some of our friends were excellent climbers. A few had many relatives whose trees we could peruse with ripe fruits. I remember always going out with a friend to climb star apple trees. I have to confess that I could not climb. It scared me stiff. So, I would spread my skirt around my waist and catch the ripe fruits I could not capture well. My friends never for an instant laughed at this or belittled me. They worked around my handicap and found things I could do. Yes, those were the days when bullying was not a trend yet.
After more than fifty years after our high school graduation, this memory is often the most remembered and shared. We must have enjoyed so much our simple lives then. We never blamed our parents that they deprived us or that they never had time for us. We were content then and happy now about our life then.
I wish we had pictures of those days, but unhappily with the absence of cameras and cellphones, we could not document so much of our fun. It’s etched thoroughly in our minds, and though over 70, we could still talk about it as if it only happened yesterday.
We accept that times have changed now, and kids live in a different context with its challenges. We understand that. Yet, we sometimes wish life was still as simple as our childhood.
Our grandkids live in a different context. They have to deal with other challenges, and only if we enter into their world will we be able to help them. Like us, they will cherish their memories just as much as we do ours.
I hope I have awakened a cherished childhood memory you had. Do share it.