And while I did not have any imaginary friends, at least not any I can remember, the other day, when I was discussing Calvin and my penchant for quoting from the series, with a friend, who is an even better fan, since she can quote exact lines, while I sometimes tend to paraphrase, I suddenly seemed to be overwhelmed by a few memories from my childhood. Its like they were always there – the memories, and were just waiting for a context – in this case, Calvin’s super identities, to take me back to a fantasy world, utterly devoid of logic, but probably more fun than anything that followed.
Now we’re back to the beginning
It’s just a feeling and no one knows yet
You might remember the Rambo fixation that I’d written about sometime back, the ‘superheroes’ who’re about to be revealed existed around the same time. The Rambo gear wasted away in batches, and so spawned a couple of mutant characters, which were war heroes too, but equipped with a different set of weapons. There was this Leo Mattel gun, that produced a roaring noise, until certain experiments with new, freely available ammunition (sand) silenced it forever. The second generation weaponry consisted of water guns which turned out to be very trigger happy by themselves.It didn’t help that they were usually loaded and since they used the loops of trousers as holsters, they tended to throw aspersions on the hero’s character – that he was still wetting his pants at that age!!
I know some of you would remember the animated Spiderman series that was sponsored by Rasna. At one point, Rasna gave away free spiderman masks and my tale is eerily similar to Calvin gulping down chocolate frosted sugar bombs to get the beanie. Only in my case, it was kept safely until I finished that Rasna box. Since my love for superheroes wasn’t shared by the rest of the family, i couldn’t coax them into buying me the entire costume, which I remember seeing on a mannequin in Parthas, cochin. So I made by own er, costume. There had to be a spider logo on the chest, but since I couldn’t get myself or anyone else to kill a spider, I used a small rubber octopus from an earlier era, tied to the chest with a string. Since I found my costume woefully inadequate, I made myself wrist and ankle guards with bajaj bulb covers, and completed the ensemble with my mom’s stitching thread, bunches of which disappeared regularly and reappeared on window sills, like those ‘mannat’ threads in temple trees. A super hero never cries, even if he gets thrashed. Since the real world identity was that of a photographer, this one was the only superhero to be snapped. No, its not going to be shared :p
But just because they can’t feel it too
Doesn’t mean that you have to forget
He Man was the next to be created, I wonder if any of you remember the tiny comics that used to come in batches of four. Anyway, this costume was made with the liberal use of notebook paper and tape, with Dad’s permanent markers used to make the bold cross at the centre of the chest guard and a carved coconut branch for the sword. The neighbourhood cat was usually scared out its peaceful afternoon snooze by a branch wielding kid, poking at it with the branch/sword and willing it to become Battle Cat. It was soon discovered that attacks against He Man were considerably lesser if old newspapers were used instead of new notebook pages. The Masters in He Man’s universe tended to be evil and soon, even the newspaper supply stopped.
‘Film Man’ had to be the only original one in the series. One fine day, the drawer containing old film reels was discovered. It was also discovered that they tended to loop back when thrown onto say a window rod. They also made excellent wrist gear and even a goggle, though it did mean the superhero had to have a permanently upraised chin in order to be able to view his surroundings. Unlike films in general, this one didn’t have a happy ending, since many of those reels were important!!
I’m sure may of you would have stories like these. Those were times of innocence, when super heroes seemed real, and life was an adventure waiting to happen. In spite of the thrashings that the super hero got, he was also comfortable in the knowledge that his parents were real super heroes who could solve every one of his problems, however large they seemed to him. And then he grew up…. reality happened, and suddenly, all he seemed to have were memories…
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
‘Til they’re before your eyes
You’ll come back
When they call you
No need to say goodbye
until next time, origins and sequels
The song is one of my favourites. The Call, by Regina Spektor from the soundtrack of “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”