One of my fondest childhood memories is of the daily trips I used to take from my school bus’ stop to home. We lived at the end of a narrow street where the big bus could not reach so it would drop us on the main road, about five blocks away from home, from where our odyssey of self discovery would commence every day. We would play in the street, jump rope, climb trees, or race, making up our own arcane rules and forming our own shifting alliances. What we used to get a kick out of, was taking the ball into the street or the nearby park and organizing our own games – with the other children on the block or with random kids we ran into at the park or the schoolyard.
It’s a type of game-playing that has gradually eroded over the years. There’s now television, internet and playstations, of course. Then there is an overblown fear of child security..abduction, street violence, abuse, danger posed by the drivers of passing cars..and that makes parents want to keep their kids safely behind doors. With the streets being off-limits for children to play, we adults are now in charge of organizing play-times, structuring the games and supervising rigid agendas. But does this take away that little something not just from our kids, but also from our neighborhoods?
I got to reminisce those days when I came across this bunch of boys playing cricket on a busy Bangalore street. A little fella, the tiniest of the group, in a yellow stripped tee was moving fast, securing the ball with a firm grip, gesturing instructions to his team mates as if reclaiming the streets again. It instantly struck a chord. I couldn’t help a smile and then grinned widely. The boy on the scooter looked at me bemused..you’ll always remember this time my friend…keep up the spirit!!