Our house was a longish affair. From the main road you enter the portico and then it was a straight line up to the kitchen with three rooms in between. On one side of the house was the boundary wall and a long verandah ran on the other that opened to a lush green rectangular field with the road running parallel to it. A store room and a dining room closed the two ends of the verandah. On the other side of the field was a row of three houses where families of three brothers lived.
It was a sleepy small town called Mangaldai in Assam, a north eastern state of India. My father was an officer of Assam Civil Service and there were many transfers during his service tenure. One of those brought us to Mangaldai. The year was 1969. Those times were very peaceful and the present day terror strife and upheavals were not there.
It was about the day we moved into our new house in the new town. We were pretty much used to a feeling of suspense and eagerness as we entered a new house with neighbors who were invisible and perfect strangers. The house was rented to us by one of the three brothers whose house was nearest to us in the rear-the other side of the field.
We reached around four o’clock on a cloudy winter evening. First our jeep arrived and we children embarked on our usual exploration of the house in all its nooks and corners and then the outer environs. The verandah and the green field appealed to us immediately.
We watched cautiously around for signs of life from the vantage point of the verandah. We were not yet ready to launch an invasion of the green pastures as we were totally uncertain of the elements living in the three houses. Doors and windows were closed and curtains drawn. Only the landlord came over and was having a cordial talk with my father. Since my father was a government officer he was held in high esteem and we thought maybe this was the reason why the elements were uncertain too of what to expect.
We kept on our vigil. Getting bolder we started looking directly at the closed doors and windows in fast dimming daylight. We finally spotted something that was great fun. We had to suppress our giggles rushing up to our lips.
Behind glass panes of the closed doors and windows the curtains were pulled aside in numerous places. Dark spots formed behind the glasses. On closer observation we saw faces. Faces of all age pasted as tightly as possible against the glasses so as to afford the best outside view. As we grew more intent some spots vanished as curtains were drawn back instinctively. Clever kids that we were, we resorted to side way view and the spots formed again.
That most pleasurable hide and seek came to an end as the tempo carrying our luggage arrived and we were called to help moving in and placing furniture, books and other items.