I must have been 9 years old. My cousin in Kerala ran from his house down to the street to play with a bunch of kids. It could have been cricket or something else just as fun, but my memory fails me.
Later on, as I prepared to head back to the states, I told him next time I had to play, too. “You’ll be too old by then,” he said. I scoffed and vowed to do it anyway. But the opportunity didn’t present itself on subsequent trips.
Last week, on Saturday, to be exact, Sajan stood on some property in Eddakara his father is planning to build a home on. A kid jumped the fence, excited to see a foreigner. He happened to know English and started asking questions.
“Do you speak Malayalam? Do you want to play badminton? We can play here in the street, now.”
Other kids started crowding around Sajan, and they communicated in a mishmash of broken English and Malayalam.
Alas, alack. in a few hours we were bound for the states. No time to play.
A dream deferred.
Where were these kids all week when we were hanging out on their street? Perhaps busy with school. Who knows.
But during the week, we did run into some kids outside their school house. I don’t think they get to see non-residents that often because they were really excited to see us. They whispered and giggled to each other, then practiced their English on us.
“How are you?”
“What’s your name?”
We told them to sing a song for us on video. They were so shy. We gave them candy and wondered if their mothers had ever told them not to accept candy from strangers.