Paper Boats

Rain used to be about making paper boats and setting them afloat. Rain used to be about playing in the mud and jumping in puddles. Cricket matches at my neighborhood pitch were never canceled because of rain. The Duckworth-Lewis rule never had to be invoked and yet the matches would always have a result. Running between the wickets became a comedy of errors. Catches were dropped, more often than not. ‘Eda pothaa, catch pidichuude ninakku!’ And while bowling, full tosses were your only option because the ball adamantly refused to bounce in half an inch of mud. Football was even more fun. It was only when it rained that I could even attempt a sliding tackle. My victim and I would both end up in the mud. A free kick would eventually be taken. It meant coming back home drenched and my parents asking me to towel my hair and take a bath immediately. It meant my sister screaming and running down the stairs every single time lightning struck or thunder was heard. Those were simpler times altogether.

Rain also inevitably means a power outage here in Kerala. Power transmission is mostly through the use of overhead cables and it doesn’t take a particularly strong wind to bring down coconut leaves and snap the electricity lines. And whenever that happened (which was and still is pretty often), my parents would make me call up the KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board) helpline. An obnoxious pre-recorded female voice would inform me that, ‘You are in queue. Please wait… Thaangal queue-ilaanu…‘ After registering the complaint, the power would be back from anywhere within a couple of hours to a day later. Nowadays there’s no fun in a power outage. No candles. No sitting on the doorstep. Thanks to digital sine wave inverters, it’s hard to even know that current poyennu.

Today as it rained, I felt a sudden and inexplicable urge to make a paper boat and set it afloat. I was pleased to find out that I hadn’t forgotten how to make one. And I felt a tingly sensation of happiness in my heart as I watched it float. Maybe, we don’t grow up that fast after all… But one or two generations down the line, will children still be making paper boats or will they be playing paper boat simulation games on their phones and tablets? The answer is becoming increasingly obvious. And it makes me shudder just thinking about it…

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