Apr 22, 2010

My Looney childhood...

As a child, I was widely hated and unpopular. At the time I remember feeling bad about it quite often. But when I look back at times, I don’t quite blame the people who made life tough for me. If I knew me, I probably wouldn’t have liked me either. Reason? I was a rather loony kid.

Do I regret it now? Not really. I look back at it with fondness. Being a tad demented was actually fun. Even though most of the fun I had was by myself. I was kind of a mellow version of Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes). Yes, unbelievable but true. Who could hate Calvin?! Unfortunately, a real life Calvin is a lot less acceptable than the one in the strip. And a lot less adorable as well.

I had a wild imagination with no limit whatsoever. Most of it has unfortunately been lost over the years in an endeavor to ‘improve’ myself to socially acceptable standards.

My strongest memory is that of my imaginary friend. His name was Tommy (sometimes just Tom) and he was the size of my palm. Yeah, something like a Lilliput. He was not always with me though. I remember that he appeared only when I wanted him to and I never really poured my heart out to him or anything. I also remember how we had met. I was actually his savior. It was during one of the summers I spent at my Grandma’s. I was looking out the window at the building opposite ours. Someone had tied a thick piece of cloth to the railing of their balcony. It immediately caught my fancy and I wondered why anyone would possibly do that. All that my 6 year old mind could fathom at the time was that it was done to hold someone captive in there. And obviously that someone couldn’t be bigger than the size of my palm. I cannot recollect how I actually got him out of there, but that’s how I got to know Tommy. He was extremely grateful to me for setting him free and agreed to never leave my side. I however, allowed him to have a life of his own, with the only request that he appear when I needed him. I vaguely recall him taking a wife at some later point in time.

The thing about Tommy was that I always had these bets going on with him. He would pop up at times when I was just about to do something and we would have a bet about what I was going to do. Like what dress I was about to wear or which homework I would do first or if I was going to sharpen my pencil or use a new one. Needless to say I always won. And he would owe me a ‘hundred-thousand-million-billion’ whatever (there was no currency attached) in cash. And he would miraculously produce these in tiny little sacks that I would stash away somewhere. Crazy stuff!
I don’t really recall when Tom stopped making his appearances. Just faded away... just like that.

I also imagined that my home was filled with ghosts, room-wise. There were the kitchen ghosts, the bathroom ghosts and ghosts for each bedroom. They never mingled much with each other and mostly stayed in their respective rooms. And they each had their characteristics. The bathroom ghosts were always having a party in there until I came in. The moment the light was on and I stepped in, the party would stop and they would all rush off and stand in corners. That’s because they didn’t want me to see them and get frightened. They were rather fond of me, you see. So no matter how much I tried, I could never see them party. The bedroom ghosts were a bit meaner. I had to take their permission before I entered, and there was a specific manner in which it was to be done. I had to stand with my toes in line with the carpet lining and switch on the light. At no point was i to step in before this was done. And in the few seconds that the tube light was flickering on, I had to quickly ask for permission to enter. If all was done right, I could enter safely and no harm would be done to me. I don’t remember much about the kitchen ghosts though. They didn’t make many appearances I’m guessing.

I remember hating most of my early childhood teachers with a passion. And I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual. I just never saw the point of copying stuff from the blackboard to my notebook. It was the dullest work ever. Invariably I would start daydreaming or talking to people around me and never completed my work. The ‘stand-up-on-the-bench-with-your-arms-raised’ punishment was a regular feature with me and I would routinely find myself up there at least two to three times a day. A teacher once got so fed up of me that she made all the kids stand on their benches and they couldn’t sit again until I finished writing. I don’t remember much of how that ended but I seriously doubt if that made me speed up at all. Distractions were ever-so-common with me. I once sat at an exam, read the questions, realized I knew the answers, started writing, but never got around to completing it. Why? Well, I think I was so bored I started dreaming about making a mud house as high as me in the playground after the exam.

Oh, and for some reason my stuff would always turn up in the lost-and-found cupboard at school. I was quite well known with the school janitors for that and they would routinely take me there to check if any of the stuff was mine. Precious or not, I never seemed to have a value for things and if in my possession, they were almost always as good as lost.

There was a time when I was severely dehydrated due to playing all alone in the playground one summer afternoon. This is the desert sun I’m talking about and therefore unimaginably hot. My mother went ballistic when she realized I had been swinging in the park all day. Little did she know that it wasn’t any ordinary swinging. I was actually trying to decipher secret messages from the sun. There would be funny shapes every time I started into the sun light and then shut my eyes. All my wonder and curiosity was aroused in what these strange symbols could possibly mean. Was I meant to discover my life’s purpose in those messages? He he, well the only purpose they did serve was to have me puking and in bed the next two days!

And then there was my experiment with the paracetemol tablet. No, I didn’t swallow it. That would be another story all together. This perfectly round, white little object to me looked extremely promising and I was certain that I would make some great discoveries out of it. I started out with a stolen tablet from the medicine box, a pencil and notepad. No way was I going to let my amazing findings go undocumented! I remember trying to crush, powder, pound and dissolve it, make a paste of it, feed it to dolls and many other carefully noted pointless experiments before concluding that it was, well, nothing but a boring tablet.

The mirror was an object of great fascination for me. On holidays I would lock myself up in my room and stare into the mirror for a very long time. Not at myself but the things around my reflection. I was always so sure that there was another duplicate world on the other side, just waiting to spring to life the moment I looked away. So I would wait and wait and then pretend to turn away and quickly turn back to catch something. But, of course, I never did. As I got a bit older this activity evolved into role-play before the mirror. I would stage elaborate plays with me being the script-writer, director and the actor playing all the characters. My favourite one (also the one I enacted the most, invariably) was the lost-princess story. I would wrap my towel around my face and make it look all scrunched up. I was the lost princess who was cursed into the towel-face and wandering alone in the woods. Only true love’s hands could untie the towel to unravel my hidden, ethereal beauty. One day, I chance upon a handsome, thirsty young man to whom I offer some water and then, predictably, the towel is eventually undone!

And so the stories go on and on. There are ever so many that I can only remember shreds of, like stuffing onion skins up my nose, gulping down a bottle of nasal drops so I could be done with them once and for all (both these events landed me in the emergency room), giving all the kids in my kindergarten class real haircuts at break-time (that made me very unpopular with the parents)… I’m sure there are several more that I have totally forgotten. All I can honestly say is that I truly, truly feel very sorry for all the kids and adults (the adults, mostly) who had to put up with the crack-pot that was me.

Having said that, someday I’ll have kids of my own, and I sincerely hope that they turn out to be just as loony as i was, if not even more.


  1. Love the deciphering of messages from the sun :)

  2. haha.. shit you were so much worse than I was! tell more :)

  3. Do I regret it now? Not really.....

    ....All I can honestly say is that I truly, truly feel very sorry for all the kids and adults (the adults, mostly) who had to put up with the crack-pot that was me.

    hmm mixed feelings? :)

  4. @lovell, rohit, kalpana: thanks :-)
    @vignesh: well.. i think i feel bad for the other ppl, but m not really sorry for anything i did.. makes sense?
    @gzox: u too? cool! i recently found out that i have ADHD which explains everything..

  5. i can not stop smiling.. seriously..
    i mean ..u were amazing.. trust me i would love to have kids like that..

    to be frank... i could imagine and recollect all the damn thing i did when i was a kid.. many of them....but way to different in, n no of ways...
    thanks for making me recollect them...

  6. Lovely lovely post! Such an imaginative, fun kid you were. I wish I was half as awesome as you :)

    1. Thanks, Archana! All kids are awesome. I was more of a nutcase though :D