In the afternoon when everyone was asleep- remember how everyone used to sleep in the afternoons once upon a time?- all of us would stage-whisper together through our re-enactments, sitting on the floor infront of Dada Daddos’ room, trying to catch the whiff of AC snaking out from underneath their door, as we played in the dappled sunshine streaming through the huge window in the lounge.
Some days we would reenact entire Amitabh movie scenes out. I was always Amitabh – possibly by virtue of being eldest one present at the time- and Satte pe Satta was a house favourite. Other days we would all be deeply engrossed in the intricacies of Snakey, Snakey, Cinderella or Enid Blyton- playing out some Famous Five adventure on the “beramda”, complete with make-shift chair caravans and imaginary packed lunches, which of course included the famous “hard boiled eggs, tinned sardines and sticky ginger cake with lemondae” We were nothing if not through in our details.
The afternoon belonged to us exclusively, a childrens’ only time in a world filled with grown up rules. We would climb to the top of the jaali, using the railing as footholds, shimmy up the side of the stairs, hide out in the dusty little nook leading to the “chhatt”. And then as tiredness would start to hit, we would run into our respective parents’ rooms to peer into the tiny refridgerators and gather all the best snacks and tiptoe out to share the loot.
To me, adventure is synonymous with those Karachi summers, where we would run wild and free, and mostly barefoot, sometimes on the roof if it was raining- it always rained madly atleast once on our trips, with water collecting strategically in all the unlevelled areas- or in the garden out front, underneath the big Christmas tree because the little one seemed angry. I remember days spent dashing up and down the driveway on our go-go scooties, thrilling in the dip that came right before the gutter cover, so that not only did you speed up suddenly but the bumpy part that followed shook you to your core before lading you at the far end, in one amazing ride.
I can almost smell the chai signaling an end to the mad afternoons frolics around the house. We would shut the sacred drawing room’s door again, pretending we were never there, pretending to scale the jacquard mountains- pack up any clues that may open a portal into our secret time and then longingly, impatiently, would sit and wait till the next day, when after lunch, our magic time started all over again.