I was standing in the balcony in the afternoon when the group of boys, Raju, Ganesh, Preeti and Abbas, came as usual.
Raju and Ganesh, the active ones, scaled the boundary wall of the apartment and after balancing themselves reached the 'ber' tree.
They plucked the berries and collected dozens until the pockets were full. Preeti was keeping an eye on the guards of the colony.
Generally the families in other flats shout at the kids and the guards run after them. For these berries they take a lot of risk.
Stage 1st photo: EFFORT
First they dodged the priest to pass the temple premises and then had to enter the adjoining compound before climbing this wall.
They tasted a few of the berries and threw the rest down to their friends standing down who ate them and pocketed them in such a manner as if this was the most exquisite taste available on earth.
I didn't ask them to leave, just advised them to be careful so that they don't fall or get caught by the guard.
Once their pockets were full, they gave me a parting smile, thanking me for not calling the guard and bade me goodbye.
My three-year-old daughter who was fascinated by the site of the 'outgoing courageous' kids, asked them for berries and they threw a couple towards our balcony.
She didn't like them. I also tasted. They were not ripe and the taste was nothing great. But that's what childhood is all about.
Joy has different meanings in that age. I have had a few chance encounters with this gang of children on my holidays when they come back from school in the afternoon.
These kids bunk classes. In fact they leave school early as the teachers rarely bother in the government school where these kids study. Risks like getting scolded, caught by someone or a few rashes don't matter, as going home with the berries is the ultimate aim for them.
Every time these kids come, I turn nostalgic thinking of my childhood and similar 'conquests'--either it was taking away flowers from a neighbouring short-tempered woman's garden or climbing a tree or catching a kite. In those days there were no video games or even TV for us to remain occupied inside the rooms.
Stage 3 photo: Conquest
It was fun for them and a sense of achievement. Managing to take away berries home and then sharing them with their siblings.
Once you are grown up, you have little time to think of anything except career and daily rigmarole of life.
Photo [left]: Ganesh conquers. Berries Are Mine.
And no matter how much you achieve later in your life--material possessions or any greater heights you reach, nothing, just nothing can give you such a thrill which one used to get in such adventures in childhood.
Related post on this blog earlier: Indian kids playing marbles and catapult (ghulail)