In One day we entered a mango garden

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In those golden days of childhood and early boyhood, we played many games in our spare time which we had in abundance. We played Gilliland, kabadddi, football and variety of games with the rubber-ball. We played innocent jokes and tricks on one another and enjoyed them. However, they were free from any malice or ill- will. Then all was so simple, innocent, divine and wonderful. We looked at the floating clouds in the sky and shaped them into an elephant, camel, ship, cow or a hill as our fancy led us. We were then afraid of going into the dark as we believed ghosts roamed in the darkness. Then we had our innocent beliefs and ideas. One of my friends one day told me that a person becomes a star after his death. And when my young aunt died while giving birth to a child, I began to make a reach for her in a cluster of stars. But could not decide which she was.

Once I went to my maternal uncle in Uttar Pradesh. He was posted there in big town as an officer. These were the days of summer and I had a long vacation. Soon 1 made a couple of friends. One day we entered a mango garden stealthily. We ate green and half ripe mangoes and stuffed our pockets with them. The owner of the garden was not there and so it was all free and easy. But suddenly the owner of the garden appeared from no-where. We all rushed out as fast as our little legs could carry us. The man was old and a bit short of sight. He tried to frighten us and ran after to catch us. We all escaped and were soon out of his reach. But in the process, a boy’s ankle was sprained and another boy was stung with a number of bees. The memory of this little adventure is still so fresh and vivid in my mind. I do not know what happened to the two boys who were hurt and stung because the very next day. I left for Delhi with my mother. When I returned home with my pockets filled with small green mangoes, my mother took no time in knowing what had happened. She admonished me against stealing like this. But she did not punish me. And I promised her like a good boy. Never to steal anything in future. Since then I have really never stolen anything.

When I am alone and think over my boyhood days, happy and strange memories come rushing in my mind. One such memory is about a miracle. In a village there lived a pious, religious and simple man. He was also a soothsayer. People came to him with their problems and he suggested remedies while in a state of trance. A little boy was missing from the village and all efforts to trace him out proved useless. His parents came to this man and prayed for help. The soothsayer made a little girl as his medium. A bronze tail spread with a thin layer of oil was held before the girl. The soothsayer then went into trance. He commanded the girl to gaze into the bronze tail. He questioned the girl about the missing boy and she answered. She said that she saw the image of a little boy being carried in a cart by a woman, to a distant village in the south. A search party was sent to the village described by the girl and the boy was rescued and restored to his parents. The woman who had abducted the boy was handed over to the police.

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