We were put to work but, like the Tom Sawyer story, it seemed like play to us. We had to carry mangoes, coconuts and jackfruits plucked by the workers and take them up to the house, in big baskets. At the end of the day, we got to eat as many mangoes as we wanted, and, this gave new meaning to the phrase "Sweet fruits of labour " :) . Any function at home meant that we would have to make packets of sweets to be distributed.
Afternoons were spent lazing on the room on the roof, that we called MaaLi, playing on the big swing, listening to hundreds of tapes on a squeaky old tape recorder, singing at the top of our voices, dancing, waking up the Adults below!
Then, evenings consisted of trips to the beach, which would generally be followed by a masala dosa and a gudbud, or a trip to the river followed by Annayya's wonderful charmburya upkari, or a walk around the town, or a visit to relatives' homes at Udupi. We really did not mind where we went as long as we had the company of our cousins.
Then, we grew up. Took up different couses of study, different careers. It became impossible for all to come to Kundapur at the same time. Some got married and it got tougher for them. We made new friends, had new responsibilities and we slowly drifted apart.
Last week, under the pretext of Sume's marriage, we all ended up at K'pur together and it was just like the olden days. Made packets of sweets, lazed about, paid the customary visit to Annayya's , ate countless upkaris, had banana leaf meals jointly, with all uncles and aunts, volunteered for serving, went down to the garden, walked among the trees- our old friends, looked at frogs in the tank, threw stones at them, worried ourselves to death when one frog did not resurface upon getting hit, let out whoops of joy when he emerged a few moments later, unhazed by the assault; cracked silly jokes, laughed our heads off at things that do not seem funny when narrated later, imitated elders, bossed over younger siblings, fussed over our clothes, strutted about in the function, ate excellent home made food... In short, enjoyed bliss.
It was a trip down the memory lane. A refreshing time, a time for bonding with cousins, for remembering all the good times we had had, a time for destressing the body and detoxing the soul. Feeling rejuvenated and at least a decade younger. The best age reversal treatment is to just become a kid again!