Today I sit down and go down the memory lane
further and further to the time when I was a child.
A child of five or six or seven or maybe even eight!
It has been a long time since I did this;
going down the memory lane;
for, the journey on that road is full of ugly double-faced demons.
Today, it’s different. I start my journey with a smile.
With all the lovely stuff I’ve read of ‘those’ days -
about early times – from lovely bloggers like Laafenn and HassanLive
Reading Laafenn has really helped me in dislodging the block -
the block that my brain puts on, to keep demons at bay.
Laafenn has drawn vivid pictures of the fun times -
the fun, carefree, exploring time we had growing up.
No! We did not grow up together; have never met in fact.
But her recollections of her childhood in snippets
snippets of “gifli” “thelhi-gaa faaru”, “gaa funi” etc
they all reflect my memories quite well.
The way of life back then, what kids did back then – for time pass.
[I totally recommend the links above; click and amuse yourselves]
Today, I particularly want to recall my “child play” days!
Those days, there was no TV, no computer, no toys!
I’m talking about, somewhere in the late 70s early 80s.
I was and am an adventurous person, probably because of circumstance;
The one single fact my grandmother used to retell with mirth -
about me as a child with my devilish craze to climb higher up!
The boundary wall of our abode had a wall made of corals.
We call it “thelhi-gaa faaru”.
Literal meaning being something like “axed-stone wall”.
[there is a lovely picture of a woman making "thelhi-gaa" here]
I tried to reproduce here, since it’s just too good. It has no direct relevance to my blabbering – but I would love you to see it.
The “thelhi-gaa faaru” was easy to climb up
the corals made natural footholds and hand support.
So I enjoyed climbing – crawling up the wall.
Gradually I learned how to crawl my 2-3 feet self up to the top
and jumping on to the “dhonveli funi” (white-sand mound) –
spraying fine sand all over the place.
Not the greatest of heights was the wall.
It was 6 or 7 feet I recall.
The mastery in climbing and jumping down gradually I learned,
the height I went and the jumping gap increasing gradually.
I climb up and jump down! Smiling with glee at the shouts from my mom;
She being an adventurous person herself, never really minded.
But the trouble starts when my father-figure comes home.
We conspire and manage to act “normal” -
just seconds before his arrival.
The trouble you ask!!!???
Well, there are those days when he arrives at odd hours.
And almost ALWAYS I get into trouble for I do stuff I’m not allowed;
like walking on the wall, climbing on the roof, the wall.
the most daring was climbing the huge breadfruit tree.
And when that happens, we all know the consequence.
“You young lady! Stay where you are until I give you permission,
permission to come down I will give! – climbed up you have!
You will stay there until I know for sure you learnt your lesson
the lesson to remember to never to climb back up”.
And my god! My mom would say nothing against that
My grandma the elderly of the family will also say nothing.
So I will stay and stay and stay on that wall
Neighbours walking by will say “darling come down you might fall”
I just smile and say nothing. For I was happy to be up there
But the stay gets prolonged … and boring … until I feel sorry for myself
sorry about ever climbing up, until my eyes water
and until my sorrow erupts up from my body -
out as a whimper, as a cry, and gasps, and in the end choking.
That’s when I get asked by mom “say sorry to him – just do it!”
And eventually after some more drama I am allowed to come down,
with a formal apology to him and a promise -
a promise to never do it ever again. EVER!
The very next day I crawl up happy and merry
the rest of ‘them’ cheering me until things go wrong!
The same happens with the “fa’n biy” walls or partitions.
Coral walls were more expensive.
So, our living quarters used to be made of the cheaper option -
the abundant “dried and weaved coconut palm leaves”.
We call it “fa’n bondi” [Roll of interweaved dried frond”]
The “fa’n bondi” unrolled, and attached against a thatch
a thatch of crisscrossed squares – made from sticks.
So you see, the crisscrossed sticks just invites and beckons me;
“climb up Amira, climb on me, it’s your ladder to reach the sky”
So, I climb. And sometimes use the sticks as a monkey bar.
Sometimes I climb up and sit just like the spiderman.
I so enjoyed my time up those “fa’n biy” “walls”.
Of course, the same happens when I am caught by “HIM”.
I literally turn into stuck Spiderman – the captured version!
It was fun getting signals from my siblings and cousins
when he arrives home – signalling me to get back to “normal”.
And then those “fa’n biys” leads its way up to the “fa’n furaalhu”
“furaalhu” being the roof. I take a moment here to think;
think about the ingenuity of our ancestors;
how clever they were: drying the coconut palms,
weaving them neatly into a protective material, looking so neat.
We have double fun when the time comes to renew the roofs
and “walls” with new rolls of “fa’n”.
That happens as often as one can afford it.
The dried fronds go brittle and decay in the rain and the sun.
It used to be renewed in our house, like once a year or two.
The best part was sliding down the “fa’n furaalhu” –
so soft and smooth.
I had my share of fun up there too.
Sliding all the way down to the ground.
Luckily there was always a “donveli funi” around.
The notorious tales of the climbing jack I used to be
makes me let my children climb wherever they want.
No restriction at all I impose.
Watchful I am for sure! with constant reminders to be careful.
But never stopping them from exploring heights.
So yes, I had my share of fun and freedom growing up.
How I wish I had photos from those days. But none I have,
other than the images in my head.
I wish for carefree days like that for the children of this generation too!
Today, children are trapped inside the congested four walls we call ‘home’
for, Male’ city no longer has open spaces for kids’ play.
P.S. Doing wonders with the pending list. No! Not all is complete!
Renewing the license I forgot and have had an expired license card for over 3 months – because I was sulking for too long
Thank God, the traffic police never got a chance to catch me
Renewing the license took only about 30 minutes of two consequitive days.
Guess if I invested that time a few months back,
I would have given less anxiety to my mom who just finds things to worry about