“Wake up.”

As a 12 year old, unlike 12 year old kids of today, I never even thought that not getting up could be an option.

This “Wakeup” call by my mother was sacred. In the days before piped gas came to town, and geysers became common, getting up on the call especially during winters was important – for as the early bird gets the worm, the one to rise and shine first got to use the hot water heated on a chopped wood chulah (fireplace), or kerosene oil stove.

The day started with Namaz and a quick read of the Quran, surreptitiously looking around to see if either mom or dad was around and would see our skimming the lines rather than reading!

The wakeup call time would change by an hour by seasons, and we wished for winters to last the whole year to get that so desired extra hour of sleep.

The next hour passed in a blur. We had a chicken coop in the back yard of the house with 24 to 30 hens that laid almost 20 eggs on a good day. As the “official egg collector” my next chore was to enter the chicken coop and collect eggs, which in itself was an adventure. The good hens having laid the eggs went strutting about importantly, and picking eggs was easy. The lazy or maybe possessive hens would keep sitting on their eggs. Reaching under them and grabbing an egg resulted in a cackling and beak pecking on the hands, and often as the hen got up, on the ankles.

During summers after the egg affair ended came the good part. My sister and I took turns to churn lassi (a cold drink made with yoghurt or buttermilk), the traditional way with curd in an earthenware pitcher (matka), with a churning stick and all.

The prize for the toil was cool and fresh lassi and white butter, and for breakfast two sunny sides up eggs, with an occasional omelet.

And then the day started.

School days were predictable and good. Off to school on a Hercules bicycle, paddling away merrily, whistling or singing a song. A Triumph Tiger Cub motorcycle was a treat to see on the roads. Just two students had it; even the teachers would walk or cycle to school. And motorcars were something to dream of.

I still remember in the early 60s we could look at a car on Arbab Road in Peshawar and tell whose car it was. The white and green were Chevrolets of the big merchants in Landikotal bazaar, and the black Chevrolets were the staff cars of the three high ranking Army officers and one for the Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Air Force. A few Morris Minors, and oh yes, a Bentley of a judge who later became a Chief Justice – fingers were enough to count the cars back then.

Perish the thought of having fun during the vacations! There was no respite. During the day – office time – it was homework, Molvi sahib, or more likely staring at the walls with an open book, and many I know of perfected the way to “sleep with the eyes open” during this period of life.

And oh yes, when you were called – you were actually called – each time on going we heard ‘you should know we will call you and come before being called!’

Fast forward to 2009 and the advent and spread of the Smartphone, one generation between the time when we were 12 and the 12 years old of 2009 – what a smart invention that turned out to be. I sometimes doubt if the inventor of the smartphone realized what a smart thing he had invented.

Now no wakeup calls but alarms with a snooze, to give a couple of ten minutes more to sleep!

And the laptop, and tablets – not to cure a headache but to give one!

And when a kid is needed, elders should anticipate and call ten minutes before they need the kid– probability zero; or do it yourself between calling and kids coming.

The process of logging off, close, bye-bye, BRB, or send a smiley has to be completed before getting up, trying to find your slippers and realizing you are wearing them, and then lumbering to your mom or dad and coming back after a rebuke as they did what you were called to do while you were de-socializing on social media!

I wonder if any of the present day youth even know how to ride a bicycle. And to be seen on one is anathema for today’s youth! I fondly remember my 20ish son literally in tears when I went to get bread on his brand new mountain bike! His clout and standing in the area plummeted as the head of a three car family was cycling. It was ok for me to walk but not to cycle!

We had one TV and one radio back then. Now every smart phone is a TV and a Radio. Kids today started with two dish antennas on the roof top and moved to a 120 channel cable feed!

The other day I caught myself talking of the good old days, and realized I had become “ancient,” talking as my dad does, of the “good old days!”

But this then is what nostalgia does to us nostalgically!