Childhood, a word for some, a faded distant memory for others. For me, it was a world, my unaltered world of joy. Things I learnt then have had an ever lasting impact, more than anything or anyone in my life so far. Those days, though a little hazy in my memory were something else.
It all started with the dusty lanes of CA block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi where I was born and brought up. The reminiscence of that huge playground of CA block still reminds me of my great endeavors and little escapades far from the reality of this busy world. Living in the world of our own, we were the kings of those dreamy castles we built in our heads, always coyly smiling at the thought of who our queen(s) would be.
One particular thing that denoted my childhood was 'accidents'. Yes, it was a very pleasant time but with the bundles of joy came a few sorrows too(life of a kid can be hard too). The accidents weren't cute or delectable by any standards or like cuts that your mother could kiss and it would magically heal by itself. I had major accidents, stating a few would be getting hit by a speeding scooter straight in the face and somersaulting a good 10 meters before halting. I escaped without a broken bone but did have my share of stitches under the nose that are still barely visible. Others include hitting my head on a sharp wall and bleeding profusely(another 3 stitches near the brows), cracker blasting in the hand, burning foot with boiling hot water, being attacked by monkeys and dogs, etc. There was just so much trouble I unintentionally got myself into. In fact, there are a few stitches on my leg, on the calf muscle that still make me wonder sometimes as to when the hell I got hurt there(still remains a mystery)
I was a very innocent kid who was loved by all. I hardly had any issues with my classmates either. "Teacher ka chamcha" as they called me, being obedient can get you beautiful tags. I got up every morning at 6 or rather was made to in the chilly winter morning of Delhi when the eyes just dint want to open. About the innocence, One such incident comes to mind.
Soon after Diwali, my gang of pals(don’t remember any of their names) and I, we formed a bomb collecting squad. All the unblasted stuff was collected. All the bombs which had missed their life's purpose of blasting were given a new lease of life or so we believed. We scanned roads, parks, buildings in search of these precious unnoticeable dynamites. We did a thorough cleaning job and anyone who bothered to look at us would be assured that the crazy kids were doing a sensible thing of cleaning which the lazy gardener failed to do. We collected all kinds of bombs, bijli bum (or bomb...more posh, same meaning), hydrogen bombs, flower pots, laxmi bombs, rockets, etc..nothing was spared.
So now that we had loads of unburnt bombs, we proceeded to the next step we called “masala nikalna”(we called it masala as it resembled the powders our moms had in their kitchen) ,we tore out the bombs and took out the powdery explosive and made a pile of the powder. Our aim was to collect all the powder, place it one container or the case of an old bomb, use the “rassi” or fuse of another bomb and light it up to give an explosion, as we believed, 10 times more powerful than a hydrogen bomb(another kind of diwali firecracker, not an atomic bomb for all we know). We called it the ‘superbomb’(or superbum as Delhi slang would have it). So, we put the stuff together and placed the fuse. No one dared to burn the fuse due to the reputation we had given the bomb, so I stepped up to the occasion. Little brave heart I thought I was. By now all that powder had covered my hands and even my face. I took a match stick and set out to light up the fuse and the unimaginable happened.
It was an early detonation to say the least. I had no time to run away, the powder set to flames and there was a huge flare that engulfed my hands for a wee bit, I thought I would burn alive so I shouted and my friends rushed to me. Luckily the flames died suddenly but not before making me look like a total joker. My face was all black, so were my hands. The world had turned upon the little nuclear scientist trying to devise his own bomb. My friends had nothing better to do than laugh at me. So, I headed home angry and frustrated at my luck, ran to the bathroom, washed my face with what I thought was Rin supreme and later tried in vain to explain the situation to my mom. It dint work anyways. I expected that this blast would cause a fatal injury to my brain but thankfully for my 7 year old brain, it dint. My days of being a scientist were short lived and I never tried to recreate the recipe of the superbomb again. It was gone for good but left behind a hilarious memory in my mind. :)