Through centuries kids has been kids. Born in 70s I had witnessed kids of 80s, 90s and millennium.
Starting with a statutory warning, I am not judging and this post is only an observation from a 70s kid.
1. We had company. When we walk down the street we bumped on friends or bullies. The physical them. For survival we made more friends that led to more enemies, (friend's enemies ours too). We took sides, we made some promises, broke some. We crossed our fingers, when we lied. We ran down the street to welcome grand parents, uncles, aunts, unburdened them of their cloth bags or baskets and carried them, wondering about why the bag was heavy and if any sweets, toffees, or if we're too lucky the multi coloured striped rubber balls resting in a corner of the bag. We shift restlessly till they go to the loo, wash their face, hands, legs, what not...talking all the time to parents, sipping coffee. We wait not too patiently like a Stork. And when they call your name, you run and stand next to them. They will remove things one by one and finally hand us a newspaper wrap, that may have some candies or pull the much awaited ball out. We rush out to show the ball eagerly to our friends and they all stretch their hands to receive the ball to admire. In less than a minute they will start throwing the ball and you go behind them shouting not to and slowly the hours stretch as we play. By night you hijack the torn ball home in the well worn half pant pocket.
2. With a spring, we were ready to walk any distance. We just needed a reason to be outdoors and going to nearby chettiar kadai to get 200 grams mustard and 1/4 kg sugar for a 10 paise commission was enough incentive. The ultimate luxury being hiring (h)our cycle and trying to manage the huge bicycle with Monkey pedal. The parents didn't put curfew for their children to play outside, there were kidnappers, murderers, rapists, psychos lurking but it never stopped us from roaming around. Parents asked the children to be careful but they didn't try to instill fear in them. The children were bold, independent. All children read together, there were no special schools, we never knew terms like hyperactive, attention deficit etc. There were only three types, intelligent, mediocre, dumb.
3. If you caught cold, you weren't rushed to hospitals. There were only 4 vaccines small pox vaccination, DPT, BCG, polio drops. Once in a year medical checkup in school, the doctor will do eye test just by examining our eyes with torch, check if you have vaccine marks, you were made to remove the uniforms and made to stand with shimmies (shifts) as we used to call then. Boys were checked in different rooms most of them bare chested clutching at their half pants, some of the boys who forget to wear their briefs, their face transparent and their fear evident, "what if?" I remember there was this element of fear, excitement around. Flu and malaria was common and we in general used to feel jealous of kids who get typhoid. Typhoid somehow was looked at as a posh word and taking 15 days leave was really a boon. The most feared disease was Diphtheria.
4. Ponds or Gokul sandal talcum and in summer days Nycil was the only cosmetics we knew of. Our hairs parted and combed with oil, our talcum coated faces smeared along with the oil was a common scene. A lifebuoy soap cut into two pieces lasted almost a month. We all sang loud while taking bath, our voices gurgling with water poured by a mug, was enchanting.
5. We never bothered to wash fruits, we brush it on our skirts or trousers and take a bite and offer to
friends, they turn it the other side and take a bite. Somewhere it all get mixed up. Moms kept sugar, jaggery on the loft, but we try to take it during noon when they sleep and though we are careful to place it exactly as we took, the CB CID mothers when they wake up, they will turn and ask, "Who opened the sugar dabba?" And we wonder how they knew?
6. When once in 6 months or so visit your native village, eager to meet friends whom you made during past summers, hijacking some gifts some broken toys, withered balls, an old shirt of yours or a broken steel torch light, pencils and feel the happiness spread inside you, when their faces beam with joy. It is also quite normal, the next day you fight with them and ask the gifts back. You fight, you make it up. You walk in the paddy field holding a bunch of leaves like actress Sridevi and try to rehearse the sway of hips and sing, "sendhurapoovae sendhurapoovae, jillendra kaatrae en mannan engae en mannan engae nee konjam sollayo?". Taking bath in the pump set with cousins and shyly watch if your boy watches you. The boy who shows attention is Kamal Haasan to your eyes and Nambiar to the other boys.
Years moves on.... You step into 80s...
To be continued