Sunday, November 10, 2013

Quora question: What did you do when your parents left you at home alone?

Obviously, I had a lot of things to say on this topic. (I have already written about some of the stuff here in this blog)

I spent a considerable amount of my childhood at home alone. The story goes that my school started at 7 AM and it got over by 12:15 PM. This meant that my parents had to put me on the bus by 6 AM which also meant that they should be up by 5 AM. My mother thought it was too much of a bother for five hours of school which, in her opinion, was not teaching me anything. I bunked school at least 3 days a week. Both my parents worked and being a single kid, I pretty much spent all my time at home.

This was pre-internet and pre-exciting TV channels. We had cable TV (which was anyway introduced only in late 90's) but I somehow I never liked cartoons (I didn't understand the accent in which the characters talked ). My parents were voracious readers and read quite a bit in Tamil. No one was really interested in watching TV in my house and therefore, for the lack of better things to do, I started reading, crazily. My school had a wonderful library and I checked out tons of books every week whenever I went. I wheedled the librarian into giving me more books than it was normally allowed.

Madurai is not a big place. There weren't too many people who read, let alone children's books written by arcane authors. Only my grandfather read English books in the circle of people I knew . He harped on the classics of his times and snorted derisively at my taste. Due the distinct lack of a recommendation mechanism, I discovered all the books that I loved by myself and that helped me try out a lot of things before I started appreciating good writing.  It was only after the Internet came about, I discovered how popular Enid Blyton, Herge(not technically an author), P.G.Wodehouse and my other favorite authors were among others who liked reading and I felt a strange kinship with the world.

Apart from the time I spent reading, I used to paint, collect stamps, sew clothes for my dolls and cook clandestinely because I was not allowed to switch on the stove. For some time, I was even interested in clay modeling. Basically, I learned to keep myself super occupied and when my parents came back home in the evening I had tons of stuff to tell them about the exciting happenings of my day, that was exciting even within the confines of my house. After the Internet came to my home in 12th grade, things changed massively- well, even with a dialup one could do so much. (I nostalgically observe a minute of silence for the creeps of AOL/Yahoo chatrooms at this point. A/S/L, anyone?)

Anyway, the point is I spent a very significant portion of my childhood, at home, alone. I loved it, though it (obviously) had major repercussions. Till date, I simply cannot work from desks and prefer to work in my nightclothes and from my bed because that is how I used to study or get any work done -by being a blob- as no one was around to chastise my weird ways. Things got slightly better after I lived in a dorm during undergrad and later, when I had room mates - but I used to love the all the little moments when I had the place I called home, to myself.

There is one particular reason why I love Calvin. Except for the figment of Calvin's imagination, Dad, Mom and the occasional kid he plays with, there aren't too many characters in his childhood. I resonate with this sentiment so much.

No comments: