It was the 8th class vacation I think. Every vacation we used to go to my mom's native place and stay there for about a month. Lot of my uncles used to stay there and it was like a big colony, where there were about 30 kids and amazing fun. But it was a strange time, because all of sudden you felt too old to play games like Dabba Gul, pakadam Padki, and you were not get good enough to play cricket and ended up being made the 12th man, or being laughed at. But this vacation we found something nice to do.
One of my uncles had a cloth shop, and this vacation one of my cousins and myself, thought that it was time for us to leave all these boyhood things and go to the shop and learn something. The shop generally used to open at 9:30, and it became a craze for us to go to the shop at 9 in the morning, and open the shop ourselves. We had about five salesmen in shop and they used to arrive and greet us warmly and kindly and happily. In morning any ways there were no customers, so it was ok. It made us feel very important, we felt that we were giving uncle luxury of coming to the shop a little later. For that half an hour we were the kings, and we managed the entire shop, though it was hardly ever that any customer walked in to the shop at that time, and any ways the salesmen used to take care of them. But we sat behind the counter, and looked over the street feeling very important, ordering some tea and something to eat from the nearby shop, and discussing all kinds of imaginary scenarios of how we would deal with customers and make a good deal. This continued till uncle arrived, at 9:30, and then customers would start coming. By 10:30 the shop would become over crowded and then we used to just sit in one corner and observe everything, so that we can become good enough to be part of the action.
At noon we used to have lunch in the shop itself, there was some thrill in eating lunch under the counter in the cramped place, and eating it fast along with uncle so that we can get to see the customers again very soon.
We used to go home at about four in the evening, with the feel of having accomplished something. Also during the dinner time, other uncles and aunties would praise us saying how good and disciplined boys we were growing up to be.
This went on for few days, until came the Sunday. Well it did make the life very difficult, because one thing which I thoroughly enjoyed was Jungle book on Doordarshan. And going to the shop at nine meant that I would need to miss that. That was too much the sacrifice to pay for growing up. . I loved Jungle book, and I had never missed a single episode of it, except when there were catastrophes like power failure or such things, which also resulted in me being in bad mood for a long time afterwards. I talked to my cousin about it, but he said that it will not look appropriate to tell everyone that we did not want to go to the shop because we wanted to watch the Jungle book. So we had to decide, we could not also fall sick because, both of us cant be sick at the same time, and we wanted to be together in either of decisions. So we went to the shop, and hoped that in some adjacent shop there might be some TV, but it was not there. After sometime I dropped the entire thought of seeing Jungle book, and started taking keen interest in the proceedings inside the shop.
I wanted to be tough, and in my mind I had started believing that I had grown up. I decided that this was the end of Jungle book, and all such stuff, and it was time to do more grown up things and make your presence felt among people.
It became 10am and uncle still did not arrive at the shop, we had an extended time at the counter. The shop sales were managed by the salesman. Uncle did not come until, about 11in the morning.
"What happened, why so late?" I asked him
"Oh I was watching Jungle book" he said .