Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jungle Boy

It is not easy to find green grassland these days. Back then; grasslands were all over the neighbourhood. Trees, ‘lalang’, overgrown plants were within walking distance. Merpati Road was aligned with mulberry shrubs along it’s periphery. Whether effective or not, when we were bruised, we plucked a few mulberry leaves and pounded them into a mush and applied it over the wounds. No plaster. No handyplas.

Grasshoppers were in abundance. We captured them, set them free and catch them again. We yanked the hind legs one by one and observed how they jumped. Houseflies suffered the same fate. Some of us breeded praying mantis for their droppings. The folks told us that when infused with hot water, it was good for aliments. Not my cup of tea though.

We organised competition like who can gather the most butterflies and houseflies. I remembered vividly that one-day, Richard decided to play a game and see who can gather the most cockroaches. Everyone was game. Manholes and the neighbourhood dump were breeding ground. Imagine a bunch of boys rummaging through the dump and crawling into manholes, emerging with bags full of cockroaches.

In those days, mosquito’s population isn’t high as we were good at killing them with our hands. Of course, it was a game to see who can kill the most mosquitoes. Find a damp place and sit silently and entice the mosquitoes to feast on you. Once they puncture your skin, tense your muscle to grip the proboscis trapping the insect. Give a good slap and you got it nail down. Who needs mosquito repellent?

Moth, dragonfly, cricket……….. that’s another story.

Water Bombs

Wet and wild. Air conditioning was a luxury in those days. Whenever dry weather came beckoning, we searched for pack of plastic bags and played water bombs. On the tenth floor was a public tap for cleaners to wash the block. Often we broke the lock and helped ourselves to the water.

The plastic bags were filled with water and from the tenth floor we hurled the pack of water at people. It evolved into an interesting game where we organised ourselves into two teams. One would go the tenth floor and bombard the other group at the ground level. The goal of the game is not to get drenched.

The roles were exchanged after a predetermined period. The team on the ground level would use carton boxes salvaged from the nearby garbage shed down at Block 14 and used them as shields. Used furniture, plastics sheet, canvas added to the defence we carted from the garbage dump.

Here was the dark side. If there was someone we don’t like, we mixed spit and occasionally, urine with water.