From that day the whole house became our new playground.
But what to play? First, we decided to play ‘hide and seek’. I started to count. 1…2…3…50. It was time to find him.
Before that let me tell you how the house was. There was a long lobby- cum- entranceway which had our main door at the end from where a big hall extended towards both sides of the door resembling a T. On one end of the corridor was a bedroom and another end our dining room and from there the kitchen. Opposite the main door, on the other side of the hall was another door which opens to a corridor parallel to the hall and directly opposite the door was our ‘pooja- room’. And the corridor has doors to our bedrooms and so on.
I was facing the main door for counting till 50 so that he would get enough time to hide. On the count of 50, I turned and started searching for him. I first ran to the corridor and looked both sides. I was kind enough not to go into the bedroom, why tempt the ghosts. I knew my brother really well; he would have thought the same. I came back to the hall and ran to the bedroom on the end. The door was latched from outside; he was not there. I stopped for a while to think, keeping a close watch on the main door where I was counting so that he won’t have a chance to win the game (I win if I touch the door after finding him and he wins if he managed to touch the door before me). That is when I heard the noise ‘gurrr’. I ignored and continued thinking
‘Gurrrrrr’… ‘Gurrrr’… Again. Now what? Run? No. he might come and touch the door. Scream? No, that would wake my parent up. What to do? I decided to go check what it was. ‘Gurrrrr’ I tried to find the source and it was behind the sofa close to the window on the left side of the main door, a few feet away from the bedroom room. I went there, carefully observing to find out signs of what is in there and to scream as soon as I see the beast. I almost reached the sofa, I saw the curtain moving and ‘phoooommm’- something came out of it and dashed to the main door. It took my life away from me, forget about being scared. I fell on my back and it took a few seconds for me to be back to normal. I opened my eyes to find my brother standing with his hand on the main door. It was the boy behind the sofa and the ‘gurrr’ was he trying to breathe through his dust- irritated nose. That was the first and last hide and seek game.
Next, we decided to play ‘House’. He was the father and I was the mother. Two kids- his brown teddy bear and my doll with golden hair and maroon- frock. We had to find a ‘home’. We searched in the bedrooms, pooja room, corridor, kitchen and dining room- in vain. From the dining room, we came to the hall and sat on the floor. That was when he found this wooden table which had a big drawer. I went inside our new ‘home’ with kids and the only property we had- a medium sized bamboo bowl. Yes, Joey. The same one my grandmother still uses to keep onions; we spread a newspaper on the floor and neatly arranged the onions on it.
We started playing. He was to go shopping and that’s when we realized that there are burglars all around. He decided to lock me with the kids inside the house. But what happened was that I thought he was joking and he thought I was serious.
He locked the drawer and went ‘shopping’. The boy was around three then and was easily diverted from the role of a father; he forgot that he had locked us. He went indoors with the key. That is when my grandmother saw the onions and she was furious. His deceiving look saved him again and she started searching for me. My dear brother gave her the key and ran away. When she opened the drawer, I was there inside drenched in sweat. She was shocked to see me like that, took me out and I don’t really remember what followed. Thanks to the onions, they saved my life, the drawer was air-tight.
More letters and adventurous stories on the way.