I spent five minutes trying hard to tie my shoelaces into a bow. At 4 years, it should have been easy. After successfully bunching it up into a semblance of a knot, I skipped out to play.
It was an empty playground, my brother Jonathan and I being the only ones there. Looking back now, I remember, it was the time everyone’s favorite programs ran on TV. It was a ‘small wonder’ that we’d find playmates at 4:30 pm. Most children were staring goggle eyed at the idiot box while we fought to juggle roles for ‘It’.
As children, cable TV was the ‘cool tool’. If you didn’t watch Batman and Robin or know all the names from Scooby-Doo, you weren’t qualified to attend group meetings during recess. Instead of playing Catch-n-cook, the girls would team up and chat about My Little Pony and wish they were Penelope Pitstop, while the boys would try just as hard to perform that most torturous of WWF moves—the ‘sharpshooter’. Everyone in class was familiar with the program schedule of Cartoon Network, all 7 days of the week. It made me feel rather inadequate—something that’s remained with me all along. Teachers tried to make classes interesting by relating things we studied to things that came on the tube. For someone whose set was switched on only for the 5-minute news capsule every morning, I was rather stumped. It doesn’t help either when you’re best friend hosts a ‘Power Rangers’ birthday party and you have no idea who they are!
Contributing to ‘kiddie’ conversation was never that hard. What would children talk about, anyhow? No one found it interesting that I had learned how to spell my parents’ names correctly or knew my house number. Who cared about Goldilocks? Who wondered where the Seven Dwarves went after Snow White moved away?
I don’t know many children in my neighbourhood who pretended to go rafting on the mat in their living room. Fishing with grandpa was a three-person affair: Jonathan, grandpa and I. It didn’t matter to my friends that we’d caught the only catfish we ever did. So what? The Flintstones did it with some oversized turtle, and they lived in the Stone Age!
I wasn’t all that alienated from the set, though. We’d always watch a little bit at granddad’s. Although it was restricted to a maximum of half an hour at a stretch, it was enough to help me survive.