…has all but disappreared in this age of box-beds, where all the beds in my space-cramped flat have inbuilt boxes under them to store blankets and bed-sheets and other prosaic stuff.
Not so when we were young. Under the bed was a magical space accessible only to us children, out of bounds to most adults at most times. It would provide a cosy hiding place, especially if the bedcover was pulled down over the side. We would hide expectantly during lukochuri (hide-and-seek), emerging at the right moment all flushed and with the tops of our heads covered with cobwebs, to cry, “Dhappa” (Caught you!). My parents’ bed, with its low cramped space where you had to bend double or lie flat on your tummy to wriggle in or out, was a good hidey-hole.
My grandparents’ old-fashioned bed, which was raised high by placing a couple of bricks under each foot, offered another kind of sanctum. It was high enough for us to crouch comfortably, and many a secret meeting of us cousins was held on long summer-vacation afternoons with dadu (granddad) snoring blissfully above us. These meetings, chaired (rather, crouched over) by me and including my Bhai (brother) and Antu (my aunt’s son), would usually centre around some idea for tricks to be played on the aforesaid unsuspecting granddad. But, to keep him unsuspecting, we had to conduct the entire meeting in phish-phish (whispers), which added immensely to the mysterious attraction of the place.
Sometimes, we had to share the space under the bed with dozens of coconuts or betelnuts or mangoes plucked from the trees in the garden and laid out on the cool green cemented floor under the bed before they were either eaten or distributed among relations and neighours.
And in moments of deep distress, the best place to cry my heart out (an activity which I did frequently and fervently) was under the bed. I would lie on my tummy, put my head on my arms and bawl and sniffle away to glory, emerging red-eyed but refreshed (and completely de-stressed).
WHAT DID YOU DO UNDER THE BED WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD?