It was always the same months but a few years late. The summer you lived and loved in 2004 would come to our doorstep in 2008. It is not the same anymore. Now we live our own lives in our own worlds. It mattered when we had a lot more in common, for there was no other option but to do the same thing. The same songs on our lips on the bus ride home, the same games on our toes, the same name on our fingertips. So few of them for so many of us. But for those of us for whom the summer came late, it was just the hints of songs caught when the bench mate hummed in the class. A game of deduction; finding stories in conversations that go with the names that flew around. Don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining. I loved my summers, however late they might have been.
So, what did we do? Till we didn’t have Mario to save the princess or Sonpari to charm us with her spells? A lot actually, and as much as I really want to, I don’t remember it all. So, I’ll give you a peek through what has stayed in the warm corner of my head that looks yellow.
My sister and I came home after having given our last exam. Free for a few months. Rode away to the ice cream place on a scooter behind our dad. Rode back with ice cream cones in our hands. And that was really it for the day. Nothing special. Early to bed and early to rise was never a thing at my home. And summers were when this got exploited beyond its potential. It was so hard to just go to bed knowing one won’t have to woefully slither to school the next day. That, like a lot of things, has been left behind. There are still nights with endless possibilities because the next day doesn’t have a hold of you for once, but nothing like the first day of summer vacation.
For a few years, when we were young, our summers started with Rasna. It was nothing short of a ritual. It took water and sugar and the powder and the syrup in perfect amounts to make it as we liked it. So you take some water and add cups of sugar, a few. Stir and swirl. Then add the powder and the syrup at equal intervals, a dash or two: swirl and stir. And then we grew out of it. Many summer afternoons have witnessed the many games we came up with. We made make-shift homes within our home and held house parties as new owners. We turned the dining table into an office desk and pretended to work. We put up blackboards and went back to school. Sometimes, we’d spend the whole afternoon outside playing cricket or piddu in our verandah. Then sharp at five had cold bournvita and continued with the same games with other kids in our colony. Sun set late, and so our games stretched till it did. There are games to be played in the light, and there are games of the dark. Summer’s the time for all of them.
As we grew older, our afternoons circled around CDs and DVDs. A collection of random films determined by the time of release or the genre. Of course, one couldn’t buy or rent all of the DVDs at once. So, we had to make some hard choices; to let go of one film for the other. Then we sat huddled in a dark room, as dark as they can get in the afternoons. A dusty-lit-by-sunlight kind of darkness. We sat in fear anticipating for those spirits, ghouls, possessed dolls, sentient puppets to jump onto the screen and give us little deaths. Funny how everything was just a premise for a game then. We’d expose ourselves to jumpscares and then wait to see who flinched the least. The aim was to not flinch at all: an exhibition of one’s fearlessness. Brave girls don’t get scared. Brave girls don’t flinch. And most importantly, brave girls sometimes don’t react at all. And then when we found other things to be scared of and put a brave face against, we grew out of this too.
Over the years, I began to read less and less. The closer I read, the farther it slipped away. And now I don’t experience books as I did in the summers of my last years at school. It was simple. You sat with a book, and that was all it was. You just read. For days on end. Oddly positioned bodies and transfixed eyes. Though magical, it did cost my summers a few things. For starters, by this time, we had caught up with Nintendos and cable TV, so we fell out of our old rituals. We were too old as well, I suppose. This is not some pointless rant against technology. It meant we didn’t need to do things together. Sisters and summers stood slightly separated. And then I left for another city. And the summers here are a completely different story.
Last summer, I stumbled on this specific horror film I watched ages ago. I had something to do with a demonic dummy, and however odd it may seem, I suddenly craved something sweet and tangy.
Written by Prakhar Patidar