As kids, we all have done something silly which we now look upon fondly. Those were our wonder years- our age of innocence when any wrong we did was dismissed with a peck on our cheeks. Punishments would not be too harsh for us when we were at a tender age. The best thing about being a kid was that we possessed the freedom to be honest, we had no fear of being judged, we had no sense of right or wrong. We had no idea about how babies were born, we were made to believe that babies were "God's gift", rather than the result of being naughty. We closed our eyes (in my case I was forced to close them) whilst watching intimate scenes in movies, we were the apple of everyone's eye so much so that we would be spared of gobbling up the last piece of any delicacy. We were spoilt, we were pampered, and we loved it. We were honest and curious, as kids sometimes our honest questions and opinions would only make the elders wonder. We were pure.
The late 80's and early 90's was a great time to grow up. There was no IT boom, there was no cable television with scores of channels that showed the same saas-bahu saga and unreal reality shows, there was no IPL, and the older version of Mile Sur Mera Tumhara gave goosebumps to us much like it does today. We grew up watching "Chitrahaar", while our folks watched the Common Man's saga like "Hum Log", "Buniyaad". We grew up watching cricket when a score of 220 in 50 overs was considered to be a match winning one. Those were the days when the Khans of Bollywood had not captured our imagination like they have now, and the topic of a nuclear family raised eyebrows. Those were the good old days.
Growing up in a joint family was fun, I was paid much attention from all the Chachas and the Peripas and Perimas and the Paati who was a sort of Mother Hen to the family. Festive times were more of a time to rejoice with new clothes and sweets and all the good camaraderie that was shared between the youngsters and the elder ones in the family. We kids, the Chunnus and Munnus would get together playing hide and seek and gully cricket and Chor-Police when PS2s, PS3s hell even the brick games were unheard of! We were educated on the importance of every festival, and that it was more than hogging sweets we could digest.
Ganesh Chaturthi captured my imagination because this was a festival where Ganesha idols would be immersed in the sea, or in a well in the backyard with chants of "Ganapathy Bappa moriya agle baras tu jaldi aa!". He was garnered with flowers, and was presented with modaks(kozhakattaes in tamil, try saying that!) which I feel were the best sweets made of all the festival sweets that we have. It aroused my curiosity as a kid on why would you buy something and adorn it with flowers, bow your head and pray and seek his blessings and then throw him in the well?. To stop me from whimpering I was told that he was sent for a bath, and he would be pulled up later once he was done. We believed anything and everything as kids, I believed it too, I acted accordingly and spent the day waiting for him to finish his royal bath.
The next day the water tasted of soap, it was bitter and it gave a soapy scent. Making a tea seemed impossible, tasting that water seemed a challenge. "Ghar main peene ke liye paani tak nahi milta!" roared my father. Fingers were pointed towards the sloppy Peripa who bathed near the well, the Usual Suspect in every mess up that happens in the home, for he may have been the one who must have dropped the bar of soap. There were cries from the elders of "I told you so!", poor Peripa denied every allegation thrown at him bravely with a feeble voice. It felt the whole world was against him. Watching the Big Guns of the family fight amongst each other made me as confused as a baby in a topless bar. I was informed of the reason of the commotion, I intervened with the revelation of truth that it was I who had put in the soap. Now the gun barrel faced me, "Why?" asked someone, I replied with complete honesty - "You had sent Ganesha for a bath but you had forgotten to give him a soap!".
Peripa - A term for the Father's elder brother
Perima - A term for the elder brother's wife
Chacha- A term for Father's younger brother
Chunnus and Munnus - Common pet names for little Kids.
Paati- The Grand Old Lady of La Famiglia.
Modaks a.k.a Kozhakattai - Sweet delicacy specially made at Ganesh Chaturthi