(Flashback : 10 years ago.)
It’s the typical scene of a normal free afternoon. It could be the summer vacations or maybe just a lazy holiday.
I am back home at 1.00 pm after 3 intense hours of cricket in the morning. Linger around at the lunch table till grandmother chides me to finish lunch faster.
Afternoon restlessness begins to set in. Little sister is sleeping. I have been threatened against disrupting here baby sleep. Evening playtime is 5.30 pm. TV time is strictly 5 pm because that’s when Small Wonder is telecast (and there was nothing else worth watching on TV then). I have nothing else to do till then.
So I sit on the bed in my grandparents’ bedroom, next to the window by the peepul tree. Open a comic book.
And I am off.
To a land of mythology and fairy tales,
To the jungle where the Shikari Shambhu rules supreme.
To the Kingdom of Raja Hoodja to see if poor Tantri has had any luck.
A little bit of practical science with Uncle Anu,
And then a few simple laughs with good old Supandi.
And compare the cheekiness of Raghu and Anwar,
With the spunk of Kaalia the Crow and Kapish the monkey.
Framing my own “it happened to me” stories in my mind
And creating “Tinkle tells you why” questions.
I am atop Govardhan just before Krishna lifts it with his little finger,
Jumping towards Lanka as Ram rushes on to rescue his beloved Seeta.
Hurrying towards the battle field of Kurukshetra as the Pandavas face the Kauravas,
And shuddering with anticipation as the Sudarshan Chakra heads towards Shishupal.
I stand atop the proud forts of Sahyadris with Shivaji Maharaj,
And chuckle at the wit of Birbal.
I get electrified with the INA troops as Netaji addresses,
Cheer till I’m hoarse when Tilak speaks.
And gasp when the shy school boy grows up to become Chacha Nehru.
And today, 10 years later, I could have been the same young school boy as I pay my tribute to the man who made growing up in the 90s so much fun! And who made Indian culture and mythology cool, way before MTV or advertising happened.
In fond memory of Uncle Pai (17th September, 1929 – 24th February, 2011).
Creator of Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle Comics and one of the greatest storytellers of modern India.