Summer is here, it means the most to children, soon school will be over for this year, and all the different summer activities will begin taking place. I remember how great it felt when summer came at last, promising us a 3 month break from school, and the rigid serious routine we had to keep up with for a whole 9 months.
I have many great summertime memories that I might get around to sharing here, but in this post, I’m going to write about a specific memory that flashed back to me a couple of days ago.
As a kid, I spent most of my summer away from home, either in Bizerta, my home city in the north coast of Tunisia, with my uncles enjoying the best beaches in the country or in Manouba, an agricultural area, on my late grandfather’s farm playing away with my cousins.
I remember in Manouba how one of my aunts, a different one each day, used to gather all us children up after lunch, put us into a room full of beds and tell us, actually force us, to take a nap. I hated naps, and I didn’t want to waste any valuable day time sleeping. I wanted to play, run, climb up trees, and just have as much fun as possible.
But, the aunt, whose role it was to put us to sleep that day, would stand in my way of doing that; she’d put us into beds, and keep checking on us until she was sure we were asleep.
But, no way was I going to let someone impose their will on me! So, again I tap into my acting skills, and I play the good boy who does exactly as he’s told, and I’m the first to jump into a bed, and the first to fall into this angelic like sleep.
The other kids go to sleep one by one. My aunt checks on us and finds us all deep asleep, including me, but little does she know that even though I seem to be away in slumber land and my eyes seem shut, I’m actually just acting as if I’m asleep and watching her by not closing my eyes too tightly.
The moment she leaves the room, and I hear her footsteps going out to sit with my other aunts to drink some green tea and talk about whatever it is that women talk about, I get up and I start waking up all the other children.
When they’re all awake, with me making sure they don’t make any noises, I’d take them slowly to the window of an adjacent room. The window overlooks some sort of pool that old Tunisian houses have, it had fish in it and it wasn’t that deep, but deep enough to be dangerous for some children. I actually remember someone telling me that some kid drowned in it once.
I’d step out of the window onto the narrow ledge seperating it from the cold waters that lie beneath, then I’d help the other children out one by one, slowly getting them along the ledge to safe ground.
Once I got everyone out, I’d lead them out of the rear door to the fields, and there we’d either start playing a game together or break up for everyone to go and do whatever he feels like.
I’ll never forget the time when we decided to play catch, and we started running after each other, all around the field and the house, and how everyone, especially my aunt were shocked to see us run across the yard in front of them, shouting and trying to catch each other, when they thought we were deeply asleep in our beds.
After me doing this a number of times, they gave up on me, and started putting the other children to sleep, while I got to roam around freely, climbing my favourite trees, picking and eating the freshest fruits, and doing whatever I wished, free like a bird.