Summer of 90s
At 7 in the morning, I had to hide my face under the blanket from warm sun rays. And then after a lot of hesitation, I finally had to give up and drag myself out of bed. Sleeping on the roof had this disadvantage, that even during the summer holidays, I had to wake up early in the morning. But falling asleep under millions and millions of stars was some experience, which I never wanted to miss. In the night, I always used to look up and imagine that the sky is like a thick black shimmering shawl, and I am snuggling cozily in it.
The mornings were usually lazy. My mother was a college teacher. She too used to have summer holidays. We both had so much to talk over chai that usually our breakfast used to go on for hours.
The place where I lived had many kids in the neighborhood. One of my friends' cousin was a regular member of our summer gang and I had a secret crush on him.
We were around 5-6 small devils loitering around during the hot afternoons, but our mothers never whined or forced us to stay indoors. Sometimes my grandmother used to treat us with lemon sherbet or finely cut pieces of raw mango, sprinkled with salt and chili powder.
Riding a bicycle on empty streets, singing Bollywood songs loudly with wind blowing through our hair, we were a bunch of free, reckless kids and nobody really bothered.
Although it was summertime, evenings were usually pleasant with a cool breeze and sometimes with light pre-monsoon showers. All elderly women of the neighborhood used to gather at one of the house-porches in the evening- sorting vegetables, knitting sweaters, making jasmine garlands, and very busy gossiping. We kids were told to play nearby so that they could keep an eye on us.
Post-dinner, a stroll along the quiet streets, sometimes followed by an ice cream treat was our family routine in those days.
Those summer mornings, afternoons, evenings, and nights now feel very special and exclusive to me. Memories of those days still reverberate in my heart.
I sometimes visit that place. Those lanes are still the same, except nowadays they are crowded with parked cars.
The houses have grown bigger and lavish but with huge brick fences and tall gates, which usually seem shut. I never see a group of old women sitting on the porches anymore. The streets are not quiet at night, as there is always a rush of honking vehicles. When I look up, I don’t see stars. I only see dark sky with thick clouds of pollution.
And then I realize that my summer vacation is finally over.