I remember it like it was yesterday. There I was in my pretty pink frock, tailored by my mother. A well ironed sea-suckered dress. I wanted nothing more, life was bliss.
It was 1993.
“Neeti…. Neeeeeetiiiiiiiii” called out Yashodhan, my best friend.
“Come let’s go play. It’s 5 already!”
For once, my mother allowed me to leave the house early. My usual time to play out side was 6pm to 7pm. There were other rules such as no wearing flip flops when you go out, no running behind cars etc. I was elated that I could leave home and play for 2 whole hours. For a 5 year old it’s a big deal!
I had my orange juice, which was compulsory and ran out of the house. I could hear my mother reminding me about the 7 ‘o clock deadline, but I chose to ignore it. It was all part of the daily routine.
An hour into a game of hopscotch and six of us were bored. That’s when we thought that running round the colony park would be the perfect idea. It wasn’t a tiny park, it was huge. All the big boys would play football or even volleyball sometimes and there was still enough space for swings and slides and sand pits.
So it was decided! We would play “catch-catch” all round the park on the tar road. I was excited. I wasn’t the fastest runner, but I was definitely not the slowest one. The odds were against them, I said to myself.
After another ten minutes of fighting on who would be the “denner” and calling each other names, we finally came to a conclusion. Yashodhan would be the “denner”.
That was something I wasn’t looking forward to. He was a year elder to me and hence, faster. But, I decided I would run my “fastestes” ever. I would get out.
The game started. I was of course an easy target for him. So he came charging at me, like bull running towards its target. I ran, I ran like I had never run before. Straight ahead I dashed.
I thought I was flying like the wind...
I thought I was as fast as the Road Runner… Wild-e-Coyote would never catch me.
I thought I was faster then a rabbit (assuming that they were the fastest animals on the face of this earth)…
I thought I could race a car if I had to…
And I fell!
I felt like both my feet were in the air for a second. I probably looked like a horse that had forgotten how to run.
And I fell!
The tiny gravel pieces dug into my skin. I could feel them scrape my knees as I glided across the road like a surfboard on waves. Some smooth ride that was!
But I was strong… for exactly 5secs.
I realized I had fallen down and for some reason I though for a second or two and decided, I should cry! I got up dusted my dress as tears began rolling down my eyes. But I knew I wouldn't cry loudly and create a scene. I just wanted to cry loud enough so that my friends could hear me and feel the pain I felt.
There was a sick feeling in my stomach. It was because of the impact of that fall. All I could think of was going home and anyway, it was getting dark.
“Probably should ask an aunty what the time is.” I thought to myself.
I went one of the nearest mothers who had come to diligently watch her kids play.
“6 45, beta.”
I was still feeling queasy in my stomach and my right knee was bleeding. I thought I would go home.
I walked home slowly with a friend. Shruti who was two years elder to me was rather convinced that I shouldn’t walk to my building in “this condition”.
Slowly we walked to building number 56.
I decided I would go up the stairs to my house on my own. I just lived on the first floor. Beside, if I walked in with a small face, a bruised elbow and a bleeding knee my mother would get all worried.
My mother opened the door and I stood looking at her with watery, beady eyes.
“Your all dirty. What do you children do?
Oh… your knee is bleeding. Go and wash your hurt. We’ll clean it up”
I went into the bathroom, washed my hands and then the injuries I had come home with. The water touching my skin was like a thousand ants all biting me at one time.
I came into the hall and my mother handed me a band-aid.
“Put it properly and then come for dinner”
But, all I really wanted was a hug…