MIDWAY : Street play

Amidst the deafening sound of the chaotic city traffic, the insistent blare of horns and the commotion of the vast concrete jungle, a cricket ball smashed through the window and thumped into my nose out of the blue. Though enraged, I found it difficult to put the blame squarely on innocent but mischievous kids. Weren’t the parents who failed to teach them discipline equally to be blamed?

After brooding for a while, I realised that I had no right to shout at them and teach them a lesson of my own. It’s their right to come out onto the streets and play their ‘tournaments’. What choice do they have when their backyard is no bigger than their own bedroom? Street is their only natural option — look at how merrily chidlren play in the streets on bandh days. Obviously, we can’t expect them to remain glued to their books or TV sets all the time.

With most of the opportunities centred in the capital, people from around the country have also flocked to the Kathmandu Valley in hope of a better life. Every inch of land is gradually being engulfed into the sea of concrete and the sight of open space is becoming less and less common. So most people find themselves in the streets or within the structures they live in most of the time. Even schools and colleges do not have ample space and playgrounds for kids. Is that the kind of childhood we want for our kids?

Isn’t the metropolis supposed to control the unsystematic construction and enforce rules to construct houses in accordance with the specified criteria? However, it’s much too late to put the blame on the metropolitan authorities and revamp the city’s image. Streets cannot be turned into stadium. So let us enjoy what we already have — ample but crooked narrow lanes.

And let us allow our children to have fun in the streets if not at home or school. And parents? Never mind if the kids in your neighbourhood break your window, or your nose, for that matter. We can’t deny the kids their rights, can we? Moreover, don’t we adults deserve to have our noses broken for failing to provide the imps with enough space to play? More sensible would be to tell them to beware of reckless drivers who might leave them with more than bruised snouts.