The days are getting warmer making me nostalgic about my childhood Summer time which provided a balanced nourishment for the growing body, mind and the soul equally. Summer is always synonymous with endless fun, frolic and learning. Isn’t it??
Just as the final exams gets over, we used to feel so relieved. “No School” – This single factor is more than enough to make any child happy instantly. Two long months of summer vacation is a welcome break from the hurried everyday routine of studies and homework.
Summer is also the time when the house is full of guests. The cousins would have fun playing together, while the ladies tried their hands in making “appalams”, “vadams” and pickles. As a whole extended family, we would go on a pilgrimage to see our family deity in the village and the other nearby tourist attractions. Taking a dip in the river during such trips is still afresh in my memory.
Enjoying the fresh morning air every morning, we would go for a walk with our dad to the local market for buying fresh produce from the vendors. After coming back home, we would offer to help our mom with small chores like cutting the vegetables thus getting inducted into cooking and getting rewarded with refreshing lemonade for the gesture. Once in a while, we also used to rent a small bicycle on an hourly basis from the nearby cycle shop and learnt to ride bicycle with our dad’s help.
Gardening is another hobby introduced by my dad during the summer vacation. Which child wouldn’t like to play in the mud and water? Right from planting the seeds, to watering and tending the plants, everything was fun as well as educational. It is recommended to plant atleast one tree per house to protect our environment. The saplings that we planted during our childhood days have become fruit yielding trees and the next generation is reaping the benefits now.
The renounced sound of “Daya Kattai” from the neighbourhood marked the arrival of the holidays officially. The hot and humid summer afternoons were spent at home where the children played traditional indoor games like “Pallanguzhi”, “Sozhi”, “Paramapadham”, Five stones, Adu Puli aattam etc. These are very interesting games which helped the children in developing their fine motor skills along with analytical and strategic thinking. Later, we added more indoor games like Chess, Carrom board, Chinese checkers etc. The most important lesson that we learnt while playing indoor games is that it is not necessary to win all the time. We would be willing to lose deliberately to make our friend / sibling happy so that they play with us next time. Trust me, the traditional games along with such peer interactions helped us master the much needed life skills which would not have been achieved otherwise from any of the latest simulated video games.
After having a sumptuous healthy lunch, all of us were supposed to go for our afternoon siesta. Upon waking up, we would relish some of the juicy summer fruits like mangoes, musk melons, water melons, ice apples etc. It was just blissful, as we used to sit in our backyard with one whole Mango each, biting into its succulent flesh, licking the juice running till our elbow accompanied with appreciative “mmmmmm” sound. Even today, the sweet irresistible smell of mangoes would take me back to my childhood days. In the times, when the refrigerators were a luxury, we would occasionally hear the bell sound of the Popsicle seller and the kids from the whole locality would gather around to buy the cold tasty treats.
In the evening, the gala street games would begin with the other neighbourhood children. We would play games like Hopscotch, Hide and seek, Blindfold, Catch the ball, Kho Kho etc till dark which would give sufficient exercise for growing kids like us. After dinner, we would carry some straw mats and hand fan made from palm leaves to our terrace for sleeping. Looking at the moon and stars, we would listen to mythological stories narrated by our grand mother that helped us to learn values, develop our imagination and cultivate good characteristics. After listening to the stories, we would fall asleep looking forward to yet another satisfying day.
So far I have not been successful in recreating a similar magical vacation for my children, but I don’t want to give up yet. Once again, this summer I would make another sincere attempt to revive and reintroduce our traditional board games to my children, develop hobbies and tell folk stories in the hope of giving them something precious to remember their childhood summer vacation.