How we used to love those evening outings, traipsing through
back alleys to reach the open fields two streets away.
Our troupe, monkey-limbed and messy-haired,
armed with badminton rackets, and enough
shuttlecocks, to lose them all in that hour of play
before dusk fell and dinner began.
Sometimes we traded our rackets for rougher
games of catch, scrambling and screaming
as we sprang amongst our clutch of cousins,
counting out in our childish voices
“Pepsi Cola One-Two-Three!”,
the standard precursor to any good game.
Occasionally, finding a fallen coconut on the green,
we scooped it up, raced home, harassed an adult to hack
open its unyielding husk. Crowding round, we took turns
slurping up the cool sweetness before scraping with spoons
its tender white flesh, eating savagely like feral children,
licking lips in sated disappointment when there was
Nothing left (to consume).
I mourned when they fenced off the fields,
wanting to keep it pristine for club cricketers.
But not as much as I mourned the loss of Grandma’s
House. That stalwart residence at the corner of
Tessensohn Road, anchor to my childhood, levelled,
transformed, now untended grass with a
“No Trespassing” sign.
A field returned, but no longer mine.