Infants toddled and prattled through the verandas and compounds, picking whatever came on the way, generating gleam in elders’ eyes. They bagged special attention practically nil from the guardians, since the children were not the kind of spoon-fed category. They availed of more freedom than today’s child, who is more attention- seeking. And so they were much more independent and self- reliant. Mostly the children used to get up, before the Sun came with his long sticks of rays to wake them up. Divine qualities such as obedience, discipline, honesty, affection etc tinted with sincerity ornamented the villagers and so also their children. Therefore a wind of an unwritten law and order blew everywhere spreading the fragrance of simplicity..
Boys and girls, though had their own separate mode of amusement and recreation, not many games segregated them. So hardly had we formed any group for playing. Olichukali[hide and seek],adichechottam[race],king[catching and ousting one from the present round], kuzhippara[stones and pits],kallukothu[picking stones in the gap of another stone thrown up], and much more were among the items of entertainment. Vattu[marbles]and kuttiyum- kolum[a primitive form of cricket]filled the little male minds with thrill. Little-little magic hands turned amazingly this way- that way, when various leaves ,nut-shells, paper-bits, rope–pieces, cords, strings, even mud etc. got shaped into toys and play things. Fights and quarrels[mostly verbal] had no dearth there, but lasted not long. Of course such habits are inherent or in-built in children.
The thought of waking up at day break and running to the mango trees to collect the maximum number of mangoes occupied the little minds while going to the bed. Monsoon days, bathed in heavy showers that covered the whole earth with water,amused the children. They either remained idle at home engaging in some indoor games, but not for long or galloped to the flowing water with paper boats. But a thud of falling mangoes induced vigour in them and then within no time they were under the mango tree. Grandma’s winnowers became umbrellas in children’s hands and sticks jumped into grandma’s hand.
Every house had one or more ponds that stole the children’s time a lot. Jumping, diving, swimming-direct, upside down, sideways,backwards- were some of the arts performed in the pond. Sometimes some plantain stems appeared in water for paddling games. Counting with a little bit cheating by one person for another remaining under water was carried out smoothly. Of course ample amount of pulling and pushing were the spices that made the water art interesting. These things went on endlessly till some elders voiced loudly. At the age of five itself all the children were at the track of swimming and not even a single child was there who hadn’t had mastery over the skill of swimming.
[to be contd.]