One fine day, we woke up in the morning to see that our lawn had new guests. A slide, a merry-go-round, an "A" monkey ladder, and a round monkey ladder. We watched with bated breath as they affixed it to the ground with cement. We couldn't wait to try them out, but no - they had to be painted. So, painted they were. And they told us that we could play on them in the evening.
I haven't seen such a turn out before that or ever since. All the kids in the colony were out in full force that evening. There were queues to play each game. Come to think of it, we were pretty decent kids - we queued up, didn't push each other - quite a feat for kids so young, I must say. The paint hadn't dried yet, but we were least bothered. By the way, the frock I had worn that day bore the stains of wet paint forever.
As time passed, the attraction faded. But they were still special. The slide was the favourite. We never climbed the slide from the steps. It was usually from the slope that we climbed, and slid back again. Even the sliding was not done sitting decently on our bottoms. We slid lying down on our backs, on our tummies, on our tummies head first, on our backs head first, running down instead of sliding.... you name it, we did it.
Then we started climbing the slide from the supporting poles at the sides. Have you seen these men climb coconut trees? Just like that. One of my school friends had visited me once, and she saw me climb up the slide from the side, like a monkey. She was shocked and thrilled at the same time. The goody-goody Shruthi, who is neat and quiet and does her homework regularly - is actually a monkey! My friend had gone to school and spread the word. By being a monkey, I had become just that much more human!
There was this kid who loved to climb the slide and then pee down the slope from top of it. Yeah. Yuck. And invariably, after he did this, someone would carry mud up and pour it down the slide, so that there were streaks of mud down the slope. Till today, I don't know who washed it, or whether it was washed at all, but after a few hours, it would be shiny clean, and then, ensuring that someone else has slid down it before us, we would follow suit.
The merry-go-round was for us adventurers. Sitting on it was for kids - hmph. We would stand on it and ride it. It was this little four-seater thingy that you see in children's parks. We would bring it up to speed with our feet, and then we would stand while it was turning. If we leaned backwards completely, it would slow down. The moment we leaned forward, towards the center, it would go at dizzying speeds! Without our knowledge, we were imbibing physics ;) In hindsight, it was a pretty dangerous thing we did.. but we were never scared!
The "A" monkey ladder was, you guessed it, shaped like an "A". We would sit at the apex and discuss "important" issues. And kick with our feet those who came to eavesdrop by sitting on the horizontal bar of the A.
The "O" monkey ladder was by far, the least popular. It was shaped like an O, sort of, if you looked at it from atop. We devised some game that saw us all inside it, and the "Out" person was outside and had to catch us by putting her hand in and trying to touch us. Dangerous game, I got hurt very often during this game.
Do you remember this programme called "Alpha Plus" on television? It was a sort of competition that tested physical and mental skills. First there was a military kind of race, where the participants had to climb nets, jump walls, hang on ropes - that kind of thing, and the second part was a kind of quiz. Well, we adapted it to suit us. We would note the time taken by each one of us to climb the slide, slide down, run to the merry-go-round, go two rounds of it, go in and out of the "O" monkey ladder, and then cross the "A" monkey ladder, and reach the starting point, and the quickest person was the winner.
For some reason, writing this reminded me of the bottle-brush tree, with the spiked leaves, and red flowers shaped like the brushes used to clean bottles with - the tree with a unique smell. I had even forgotten this tree! Phew! why did I remember this? Was it our starting point for Alpha Plus? Perhaps. I don't remember. Strange are the ways of the brain.
Next: A leafy area in the township.