Memories of the Golden Years…

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”
– Tom Stoppard

My very dear friend Silverine created this excellent tag (The Wonder Years Tag) and tagged me. I am supposed to write 8–10 things about childhood (1-12 years) that I miss and that I disliked and then tag a few people. This is one tag that I thought I could finish under an hour but took almost four days. Nice tag Silverine. Thank you very much for making me realize how fortunate I am.

While my list of things that I miss went from 10 to 14 while the list of things that I disliked contain only 5 items. Except for two stints—fist one for 8 months and the other for one year—at two boarding schools, I spent my entire childhood home. Since my home is in a small village where the main occupation is agriculture—nature, plants, and agriculture work has a very prominent place in my childhood memories. If you don’t have an aversion of nature, agriculture, farming, and village life, read on…

My Home

What I miss about childhood

01. I miss my home and the land. Our home was a single plot of 10acres out of which about 3 acres was paddy fields, which was in front of the house (see Figure). Immediately after the paddy fields was a canal. The road to the house started with a bridge over the canal and was through the centre of the paddy fields. I miss the paddy fields (replaced by cocoa and nutmeg plants), the mango, tamarind, guava, cashew, and other similar plants, most of which (except the ones in the plots next to the house) were cut down to plant rubber trees. I miss the pineapple plots and coconut gardens, which also gave way for rubber trees.

02. I miss the innocence, lack of worries and tension, simple pleasures like catching a butterfly, smelling a rose, seeing a chrysanthemum flower, bathing in the canal, catching fish with the towel, etc. I miss the absence of TV and the lack of knowledge of characters like Karma, pokemon, transformers and gadgets like bayblade, concussion rifles, etc. Life was much simpler and more enjoyable with Bobonum Molium and other characters from Balarama and Poompatta like Kapish, Mayavi, and stories like Manu Prathap. Also I miss characters like Mandrake the magician, Phantom, Tarzan, etc.

03. I miss the paddy fields and all the activities associated with farming from field preparation, sowing the seeds, water management, spraying pesticides and fertilizers, weeding, harvest, processing, storage, and so on. I miss the excitement of a good harvest, the anxiety about an untimely rain, the agony over nonexistent rains, and so on. All these events—field preparation, sowing, weeding, harvest, grain distribution, hay drying, etc.—involved more than 50 of people and a used to create a festival atmosphere. I think, I could write a separate post on this topic.

04. I miss exploring our land (parambu or thotam) with my brother and the sheer joy of finding things like wild orchids, bird nests, beehives, etc. We used to climb trees, watch birds, rabbits, and other animals that shared our land, make secret hideouts, and roam around the land during weekends. We never disturbed the bird nests, and so there were my types of birds who thought it safe to build their nests in our plot. But beehives were another matter; we would run to tell dad so he can come with a worker a get the honeycombs. Drinking honey straight from the honeycomb is a really wonderful experience.

05. I miss my stay at my mother’s home during the summer vacation. I miss reading the newspaper to my grandfather. I miss sneaking into my uncle’s library and reading books. Most of the books were the one’s I was not supposed to read—novels, short story collections, etc. I used to get caught often. But that didn’t prevent me from going back and reading the books. By the time I was in the eighth standard I had managed to finish about 40-50% of the books there. My uncle’s library was a major factor in nurturing my love for books and reading.

06. I miss the driving lessons from my dad. First sitting on his lap and then with him seated next to me. The only reason why I learned to drive at a very early age is because my dad encouraged me to do so. Once he was sure that I had learned to drive properly, he would allow me to drive during the various trips. He would allow me to drive at very high speeds on good roads so I could enjoy the thrill of high-speed driving. He used to give a lot of freedom, which I think made me more responsible.

07. I miss the hands-on experience and on-the-job training on a variety of trades—automobile repairing, plumbing, electrical work, masonry, carpentry, etc.—that I gained while working with my dad. He used to show how to do the various tasks and made me do it. I learned all these things and along with that learned one of the most important lessons of life—all jobs are respectable; there is nothing like an inferior job.

08. I also miss accompanying my dad to the various plantations to supervise the work. The best part was going with him for harvesting the coconuts. I used to ask for tender coconuts every hour and the climber will get the best tender coconuts and will cut the top so I can drink it coconut water. Then he will cut it open and fashion a spoon from the outer skin, so I can eat the tender coconut. I used to polish off 6–7 tender coconuts on such a day.

09. I miss sharing my dad’s workload. I used to go for supervising the coconut collection by the time I was in the fifth standard. I used to go with the workers and the climbers during weekends and vacations. I used to supervise the counting, settling the ‘missing coconut account’ with the watchers and counting and handing over the coconuts to the buyer. Same with the paddy. After the harvest and separation of the grains, the people who came for harvest were given their share. So while our workers used to measure the grains harvested by each group, giving their share was my job. I had the discretionary power to give bonus to top performers, the needy, the elderly, etc. It was nice to be in charge and I learned the basics of bookkeeping and accountancy during those days.

10. I miss playing shuttle badminton with my dad. When we started playing (while I was in fourth standard), the score used to be 15-0, 15-0, 15-0 in my dad’s favor and the game would be over in a matter of minutes. He was the college badminton champion and I was a novice. Any service or service return slightly above the net would get smashed down. Slowly I learned the ropes and the scores and duration of play improved. By the time I was in the sixth and seventh standard, I was able to reach 15-12, 15-13, etc. But only during my tenth standard I was able to beat him. But playing with my dad gave me an edge at school where I was the champion.

11. I miss my bicycle rides to school with my brother. Our school was about 6Kms from our house. We would start from home at 8.15AM and cycle very slowly enjoying the scenery and talking until we reach the school. The same while returning. It was real fun. I also miss playing cricket and shuttle badminton with him. Since we didn’t have any close neighbors and there were not many children in our age group in the neighborhood, most games were two person games. So when I was batting he would bowl and vice versa. Many of my mother’s potted plants were destroyed due of the lack of fielders.

12. I miss helping my mother in the kitchen, flower and vegetable gardens. I used to slice vegetables, do dishes, make tea, set the table, and do almost all the assistant’s work in the kitchen. My favorite activities were mixing the cake batter (which I used to taste often) and stirring the halwa mixture while making the halwa. My mom had (she still has) a beautiful garden. We had all kinds of plants—roses, chrysanthemums, asters, bougainvilleas, dahlias, cactuses, euphorbias, orchids, palms, anthuriums and so on. I used to water the plants, prepare the potting mixture, repot the plants, carry the pots while rearranging, mow the lawn (with a manual lawnmower), etc. I was the manual laborer and was assigned the jobs that involved physical effort. My mom and brother were the experts who used to bud roses, layer the jasmines and begonias, graft cacti and bougainvilleas, prune the plants, and so on. Similarly, in the vegetable garden, I used to dig the pits, trenches, make the beds for planting, spray the pesticides, add the fertilizers, water the plants and so on, while my brother and mom did the planting, pruning and other activities that required a delicate touch. My brother has a magic touch—whatever he planted would grow without any problem. So I will fill the pot or dig the pit or make the bed and wait while he carefully and with a superior air will draw a cross over the sapling and will plant it. But it was fun and good exercise 🙂

13. I miss working along with the workers—raking the soil, weeding, etc. All of us used to stand in a row and will start raking the soil from one end of the plot. Since I was young, I will be allocated only a very thin strip of land. Even then, the workers on either side of me would help me out when I used to fall behind. They even made me a rake with a short handle. I learned the art of making perfect circular platforms around the trees, making beds for crops like ginger and turmeric, erecting fences, and several other skills from them. The love, sincerity, mutual respect, and camaraderie that existed between workers and employers are gone. Now it is all business.

14. I miss the monsoon rains. The rains will cause the canal to overflow and soon the water level will rise so the entire paddy field will look like a big lake. With the first rains came the rush of fishes for spawning. As soon as the freshwater reaches the river, the influx of fish of different sizes and shapes will start. All along the canal, people would have prepared traps and nets for catching them, but several them will escape these traps and make their way up. We used to prepare the nets, one-way cages, dams specially designed to catch the fish trying to jump over them, etc. Once the fish start arriving it is like a carnival. While we will be busy catching the fish, mom and her assistants would be really busy making various curries, pickles and distributing the fish to our friends and relatives who do not reside by the side of the canal. At night the entire area will be lit up with lamps and people carrying variety of weapons and equipments to catch the fish will be roaming the fields. It was very exciting and the fish used to be very tasty.

What I disliked about childhood:-

01. Sunday school and the long sermon during the Sunday Mass.

02. Boarding schools

03. Being told that I was too young to read a novel or book. I never listened to that advice and read almost all the things that were forbidden.

04. Public speaking (school assembly, annual day, etc.)

05. Visits to the Dentist

I can’t think of anything else. I have many good memories about childhood, but very few dislikes and bad memories. I think I was lucky in having such a great, simple, and fun filled childhood—the advantage of growing up in a small village among simple, loving, caring, and unsophisticated people.

“The older I grow the more earnestly I feel that the few joys of childhood are the best that life has to give.”
– Ellen Glasgow –


  1. Alexis Leon said,

    November 30, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    Abhishek: Yes, I had a wonderful childhood. In my place there still is enough greenery and the animals, but slowly they are also disappearing…

  2. chekku said,

    December 2, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    Alex..awaiting a blockbuster post from u!!

  3. anu said,

    December 5, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    where r u ?

  4. venus said,

    December 6, 2006 at 4:54 am

    I hope, everything is alright with you alex.
    havn’t seen any activity on this blog lately…

  5. anoop said,

    December 6, 2006 at 8:54 pm

    No updates.., and also no comments these days!

    Waiting for ur next one!

  6. Malayalam Blogs said,

    December 7, 2006 at 2:49 pm


    That is a one huge list dude!

  7. chackochan said,

    December 20, 2006 at 8:09 pm

    Hello Friend howz u 🙂

    am back after a break 😀

  8. chekku said,

    December 22, 2006 at 6:12 pm

    Dear Alex..merry christmas..and wish you reasons to smile for next year!!

  9. Sreejith Kumar said,

    December 23, 2006 at 2:54 am

    Merry Christmas!

  10. anoop said,

    December 23, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    Happy Christmas and Happy 2007!

  11. Kesi said,

    December 23, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    my holiday greetings! merry xmas and a very happy new year to you!!!

  12. Geo said,

    December 24, 2006 at 2:10 am

    Wish you and your family a merry xmas and a happy new year!

  13. neermathalam said,

    December 26, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    merry xmas chettayi…

  14. Jo said,

    December 27, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Have a blessed year in 2007, Alexis.

  15. Martin said,

    December 28, 2006 at 7:55 am


    You write very well. It was a very engaging read. Hope your well.
    I’m okay by god’s grace.

    Wish you a happy 2007.


  16. Mind Curry said,

    December 29, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    hey al..thanks for ur sweet xmas wishes..i hope you had an awesome xmas..and i hope the new year brings you a lot of peace, joy and love. take care buddy..and enjoy the party!

  17. Geo said,

    December 31, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Time to wish you a happy new year 🙂

  18. Alexis Leon said,

    December 31, 2006 at 7:16 pm

    To all: I wish each and every one of you a very happy New Year. May God bless you and your family in 2007 in an excellent way far beyond your dreams and expectations!

    With love, light and joy,