Teenager years are just so stupendous, a lot of people will ask me; whats great about them? And you know who all will ask me that?All the teenagers that I know and those teenagers who know me.
I grew up on various Air Force Stations where my Dad had been posted, teenage days began in Air Force Station Agra and this incident amongst many, happened when I was about 15.
The rules of staying out were very simple since there were no cell phones, street lights come on and you get IN, right into the confines of your home. I was an avid squash player, not because I liked the game so much, it was more of an ego trip where I got to play with 'macho' young Air Force officers, and yes, there were so many girls my age who used to hang around at the squash courts to check out these young pilots, it gave me a feeling of deja vu that I was being checked out too....maybe they had already 'CHUCKED' me out. It was a December evening when the global warming had still not started taking effect and the Air Force station with its green cover was even more chilled than areas outside. I had shared a few games with a fellow player and had a very sweaty match, to my horror when I stepped out, the STREET LIGHTS WERE ONNNNN.
In my white shorts, white t shirt-still drenched from the sweat and not to forget my bata canvas shoes and white towel socks and squash racquet in hand, I sped on my Hero bicycle as fast I could, all the thoughts of getting IN to the house were racing faster than my bicycle. As I cycled into the drive way and onto the portico, my Dad was sitting with a cricket bat on his side. Well he did play cricket, but, definitely not in the evening after the street lights had come on and flood lit cricket had still not come into vogue.
My thought got a strong jolt the moment he picked up the bat, I knew it had a different purpose altogether. Even before I could realise what was happening, my feet suddenly took flight and I raced out of the drive way, leaving my cycle on the floor and racquet somewhere in the bushes. I reached the gate in a few seconds and I could hear dad very clearly when he said, "come back now or stay out the whole night". Well, it was better to stay out in the nail biting chill rather than face Dad, what with the threatening looking bat in his hand. I never knew bats could look threatening until this very moment.
Here I was on the desolate roads of the Air Force Station, not a soul on the road and me walking around the place, I was feeling quite out of place in my shorts and t-shirt and didnt want to be seen by anyone I knew. I was also quite wary of going to a friends house, lest I would be questioned as to what I was doing at the curfew hour by their parents. Here I was feeling so damn cold, cursing my luck for being late and there I could see people in the confines of their homes, having dinner and warming their hands around a fire place.
I was making my survival plans with all kind of thoughts fleeting in and out, thinking about how the caveman survived in those weather conditions, to what would happen if I didnt find shelter. Just then I realised that my bathroom window was open, and my room door to the bathroom was open too, I knew this because even upon many scoldings from Mom, I would never close the bathroom door. A little plan was now taking shape in my teenaged brain. I walked into my neighbour' lawn, reached the bordering hedge- I almost felt I was on the Indo-Pak border. In a flash I managed my way through the hedge and reached the bathroom window, jumped right in and quickly went inside my room under the bed. The lights in the bed room were switched off, so I had my alibi in the darkness. After a few moments, I gathered courage and slowly pulled two quilts lying near the bed, to my place of resting for the night. One quilt would be the mattress and the other would be the comforting cover.
In the meanwhile an argument had broken out between Mom and dad over how I should be handled, well, both of them had no clue. How were they to know that their teenaged boy was adept at 'Survival of the fittest'. It must have been pretty late in the night and Dad was now worried. He left home on his scooter to go on a wild goose chase to search for his absconding son. He must have driven almost till midnight, informed the Air Force Police and all those he knew and all those I knew and then came home to sit outside in the portico, probably, pondering over the 'bat'.
The night went by, with Dad having spent the night in the portico while I slept under the bed quite peacefully. I woke up, as I had to go to school and did my bathroom chores, started getting ready, uniform on and while I was about wearing my shoes, he walked in and I FROZE. The weather wasnt so cold as the sight of him standing there. "Where were you the whole of last night" ???? were the words, I almost choked on the answer I was dreading to give, "well Dad, I was under the bed, sleeping". Imagine the look on Dad' face, NO, no one can imagine that, it had to be seen. The moment I finished my answer, my feet helped me take flight again, the same bathroom door and the same bathroom window. I signalled my sister to get my school bag to the bus stop. My mind was at home, I was in school.
The first time in my life, I didnt want school time to get over, I wanted the classes to go on forever. Well, time doesnt wait for anyone and here I was on the way back home. I reached home and made a dash for my bedroom, entered the room and quickly bolted the room from inside. Whew!!! I was so relieved. Just then the same bathroom door opened and Dad stood there, with a smile on his face, a smile which said, I am your Dad, son, and I love you.
I was still thinking of making a get away when he walked up, gave me a hug with a tear in his eye. I cried, I never felt better. I had GROWN UP.
I remember this incident and get quite emotional over it as Dad isnt around anymore. Love you Dad for a great lesson of my live. You made me Grow Up.