Its a week's holiday on account of the country's national and liberation days.
I look out and the sun glows white like it thinks it is the moon. There is a dust storm that's been on for two days now. You breathe in dust, walk in dust. The dust gets into the house and covers every surface, frustrating your efforts at cleaning. The 7 holidays stretch out with nothing to do. Braving the dust and cold winds is not attractive. I think back to my childhood holidays in India.
When our schools closed for summer, all my cousins, my brothers and I would descend on the bungalow on the hillock in the rubber estate where my father worked. My mother would pack goodies in picnic packs and all of us kids would burst out of the house, run among the tall green green trees, walk across the primitive bridge that swung dangerously, and jump into the small rivulet of clear clear water in our petticoats or shorts. We passed happy hours laughing and playing in the cool water as the sun warmed us. Hours later the maid would come to fetch us. And we trudged back home tired and ravenous.
In the evening, my father would tell us stories of Soorpanekha or Bheema or some vivid character as we chewed on salty steamed corn. A Kathakali and music enthusiast, my father was a great story-teller. His was no bedtime story of the west. He brought alive the figures that peopled those tales and we laughed at the antics of Hanuman, wept with pity for the young Dhruva, got angry with the mischief-maker Kooni, felt awed by Bheeshma's pledge..
We acted out these stories or performed dances and songs before the appreciative audience of my parents, neighbours and sundry servants. We played cricket(with commentary), ran after the calves, fought with each other over a piece of Cadbury's chocolate, got our hair and bodies oiled and stood together without a stitch of clothing, drawing pictures on our oiled bellies. We read books, we sang bhajans, we played cards, we blew bubbles, we followed frogs, we lay together on mats spread in the hall and giggled when we were supposed to sleep ....
I look up from the key board as I write this. My son sits alone with a tin of pringles on the sofa playing a computer game and watching Shahrukh doing the OSO dance for the nth time. My son is happy.
Then why am I feeling sorry for him?