Much before those badminton games, the compound was used as garbage spot. A concrete enclosure was constructed on either end of the compound and the lazy ones would drop the garbage into the enclosure with precision, aiming into the enclosure. Sometimes the aim would hit the borders and we would have the spray of garbage strewn all over, creating stink that would mingle with other food fragrance coming from the kitchens at different times of the day.
Then there was time, when water tap was installed on both sides of the walls which was made available to the sweeper for his monthly wash of the building stairs. This tap was the boon for the members who were released from the back-breaking job of supplying the buckets of water for cleaning the stairs.
Many years ago, we had this old woman, Mogri, who lived under the stairs. She catered to everyone’s need, fetching milk-bags for all members of the society and smilingly interviewed every guest who visited me. She was a news-breaker and kept us up-to-date with all the events, big and small. She kept the area clean and the entrance to my side of stairs, was always clean. I miss her presence specially now, since her area has been occupied with all the unwanted garbage which doesn’t fit into the people’s homes and still don’t find time to dispose it off. The stench is always there which doesn’t bother anybody except me.
The rest of the compound circling the building is quite clean and children are seen playing, running, and skating during evening hours. They have no organized games as such, just random games.
During our days, when we were young, we played in the building compound all sorts of games like dhabba-hide-n-seek, cricket, and organized outdoor games. I remember playing sakli, L_O_N_D_O_N, statue, langdi, gilli-danda, lagori, dumb-shera antakshri and many more such games. We broke window panes of the ground floor residents and never took the responsibility of replacing it. The elders of the society hated us, loved us and were very proud of us.
I still remember the Diwali party that we had once, which lasted over a week, where by different contests and games were organized and there was a spirit of friendliness amongst us. We had carom tournaments, badminton tournaments and races in the building compound. The winners were listed and narrowed down to first and second winners. On the party day, gifts were distributed to the winners, followed by games for adults and the elders surprised us with their hidden talent of singing and dancing.
We have always lived like one large family and we have had our own bit of fun. Although most of those families have moved on to the greener pastures, but whenever they visit us, they talk of those good times. Now that the building is about to go for re-development, we will have only memories that will cling on and stay there, much later than these walls and bricks that will crumple into dust.