“Boy, I hadn’t had a skateboard in my hand for years. I didn’t feel funny, though. You could put a skateboard in my hand fifty years from now, in pitch dark, and I’d still know what it is.”
– J D Salinger in ‘The Catcher in the Rye’
True, indeed. To me, a skateboard was always an elusive alien thing in childhood. Leave aside touching it, I had never ever heard of a skateboard in those days. But, like any other child, being brought up in a typical non-metropolitan background, there were lots of things that I craved for and had an intense insatiable desire to fulfill the same.
Yes, this list was endless – Right from playing cards ( as per few elders, it could spoil a child ) to stainless steel blades or a pair of scissors ( cutting anything on the way was extremely exciting as it provided a satisfaction of being a skilled craftsman 🙂 ), a chocolate called “Fudgy” (not for its taste, but for the free He-Man stickers that came along with it) and things like catapult (considered dangerous for the reasons unknown to me or probably because of the fact that we once practiced our shooting skills on a beehive 😉 ), and millions of other things that could easily excite a non city slicker boy.
But, I too had my share of things that I proudly possessed. Starting from things like old torch batteries, colored marbles, matchbox covers, scented rubbers (I never knew they were called erasers, a word that I never heard of), pencil “cutters” (Pencil sharpener was too difficult to pronounce), a thousand fountain pens (most of which were useless with broken nibs), colored goggles (beautifully done with rubber-bands and red cellophane paper), broken magnets to pick “interesting” stuff from roadside, a cheap digital watch that never displayed correct time, a spider man dress (Believe me, it was better than what Toby Maguire wore in Spiderman I), an old magnifying glass (I used it proudly to demonstrate the effects of solar energy by burning newspapers, match sticks and people’s palms 😉 ), a vicks inhaler with a key-ring attached to it, an old disposable syringe that was mostly used to intimidate small kids and lots of other junkyard stuff like inflatable tires or just iron wheel rims on which I mastered all practical aspects of rotational physics in the scorching heat of June.
I still remember those days when I scrimped and saved money to buy a silver colored pistol and a small spring game that was a proud addition to my never ending unique collections. I got them from the famous “Jhandey ka mela”, an annual fair (where I puked after having a roller coaster ride in that ugly giant wheel) that takes place during Holi in Dehradun. I loved that fair where I won lots of “Wheel” washing cakes in the game of Hoopla. It gave me a great sense of achievement.
Though it looks like a phantasmagoria to me now, but it was indeed an ingenuous hedonism of childhood. It crept into my nerves and the sheer joy associated with those proud possessions made me the strongest contender for the happiest person on earth.