April 5, 2009 @ 11:44 am
Once in a while when summer is in full bloom, a lot of new things appear around you. On a Sunday warm afternoon, I walk out into my balcony with a cup of tea in one hand and a current affairs magazine in the other.
I don’t really read current affairs in these magazines even though I start with the idea initially. But within about 5 minutes I find myself on the Bollywood gossip pages and before I know it I am done with the magazine. Now, its not that the Bollywood gossip really interests me. It doesn’t. But I can’t really do all that heavy reading about current affairs and Bollywood gossip makes for easy reading, especially the pictures.
So, while I am finishing my last minute scan of the magazine, I hear voices of kids on the street fighting over something. I flip the last page of the magazine, glance at Katrina drinking a mango drink, pick up my cup of tea and lean on the railings of the balcony to see what the fuss is all about. I see 4 little kids, all neatly dressed in bright summery colours holding badminton racquets. The racquets are as big, if not bigger, as the kids themselves resulting in they becoming unweildy in those tiny hands. The fuss is over who should play next and whether the current player was ‘out’ or not. There is such a thing as an ‘out’ in street badminton which refers to a player making way for another due to not having struck the shuttle. The kids speak fluent English at an age when perhaps I wasn’t speaking even my native language coherently. I suppose this is what the information age is all about.
The kids then decide to stop playing badminton and instead announce loudly that they shall play “Colour Colour”. This announcement is followed by wide flourishes in the air with the racquets and the two girls in the group do a little bit of a hop and a skip in glee. I didn’t know what “Colour Colour” was all about, so I stayed on at the balcony overlooking this plan.
One of the boys, dressed in dark maroon shorts, a chequered tiny half-sleeve shirt and a colourful Mickey Mouse adorned watch (at least it looked like Mickey Mouse to me), moved away from the group, looked around, closed his eyes and said “Ok, ready.”
One of the girls screams out “Green”. And the boy shakes his head and says “No”
A little hop and a skip by one of the girls and then the guessing resumes.
“Yeah”, the kid smiles and feels sheepishly disappointed.
So that was what “Colour Colour” was all about. The other party had to guess what colour this boy had in his mind. While to you and me it might seem that it is so easy to fake by just changing the colour in your mind all the time, it wasn’t quite the case for these kids. They were honest in admitting what colour they had in their minds. Nice and simple. Perhaps just how life should be.
A couple of rounds into this game and now it is the little hopping girl’s turn. She thinks for a few seconds and says the customary “Ok. Ready”. The other 3 guess perhaps at least 20 colours between them but to no avail. This one is a tough one to crack and now even I start thinking of all the colours that I know of.
The 3 are now tired of guessing and they just don’t know any more colours. So they ask the girl to reveal what is the colour in her mind.
To this, she says, “Transparent” and starts doing her hopping and skipping bit in a victorious manner. The kids were not quite sure what to make of it and the little boy attempted to start an argument but stopped soon after the others readily agreed to this “colour”.
Transparent! I couldn’t help but smile. Technically this might not be right but I don’t really care. I was amazed at the amount of intelligence that these kids had at such a young age. After a few rounds of this game, they just sit down on the side of the street and start chatting in general.
The hopping and skipping girl overhears someone call her a copy cat. And she raises her badminton racquet in a gesture asking the others to keep quiet.
And then she says, “Do you know why there is a word called copy cat?”
The others just shrug, with the little boy dismissing the question by looking away from the group.
The little girl goes on to explain – “See, a cat does meow”
“Now, any other cat also always does meow and nothing else. So, all cats say meow. Therefore every cat is copying each other. That is why the word copy cat.”
The rest of the kids, except the little boy, acknowledge this sudden enlightenment with a joint “Yeah, you are right”.
The boy stands up, holding the badminton racquet in one hand, and says “What ok? A dog does bow-bow and every other dog also does bow-bow. Why is it not copy dog then?”
The other 3 kids submerged his question by shouting at him and saying he doesn’t know anything. The boy just turned around and started walking up the street, dragging the racquet along with him. The little girl did a hop and a skip and the other 2 kids started doing the same.
I was done with my tea and turned around, picked up the magazine from the balcony floor and went right back inside. The things I had just overheard were far more interesting than reading the current affairs magazine, which I promptly flung on to the corner table. And then suddenly,without any warning, a feeling of being quite old in this world came over me. This world which was teeming with bright ideas and brighter questions. There was a time in my youth and early professional life when a few veterans had to make way for youthful employees like me. And it dawned on me on that Sunday afternoon that not too far from now, there would be a time when I shall have to move over and make way for something more fresh and more inquizitive. Heck, I am still on the better side of 30, managing to cling on, but I do know deep inside that the inevitable will catch up soon. The kids outside return, start playing something and then get into an argument. That brings the smile back on my face for no apparent reason. Perhaps the inevitable is not to be feared or protested against. Perhaps.