“Papa let’s play hide and seek” tells my son excitedly. “There are lots of places to hide here!” he continues, the smile broadening as he surveys the space around him.
I quickly nod in affirmation wanting to participate along with my son’s mood for some fun and games.
“Okay papa you stand here, look in the opposite direction and count until 15.
“You have 3 minutes to catch me.” he rattles off the instructions. “Once the time is up and you are unable to find me, I score a point otherwise the point is yours,” he sums it up.
Fair enough I say and give him a thumbs up.
He then takes my phone, opens the clock app and starts the stopwatch quickly mimicking the action simultaneously on his phone too. He of course has been gifted the gadget to cope with his online studies and now carries it with him where ever he goes, even to the bathroom!
As I turn around, he quickly disappears behind me in search of an appropriate hiding place. I look straight ahead in front of me counting the seconds and then glance at the phone to check the time.
15 seconds is up and I dart away to search for him around the maze of clothes hanging on the shop floor by the dozens. For you see we are out shopping in a mall and his mother is somewhere on the same floor choosing new sets of office wear for herself.
It was then that we father-son duo decided to kill time by playing hide and seek. I make my way quickly around the rows of hangers holding an array of branded tops, shirts, designer salwars and shoes.
I duck amidst the rows hoping to catch a glimpse of my son’s feet hidden somewhere behind them and open my scoring with a point. He seems to have done a good job for though the mall floor is wide and open I cannot sight him.
The stopwatch is now ticking away furiously in my trouser pockets and I pull it out to check it. It is racing towards the 3 minute mark and I hasten my steps and make a wider sweep of the floor. Just when it seems my son will be winning, a slice of luck favours me.
It is only when I go past the last row that I happen to casually glance at the tall mirror which covers almost the entire wall on one of its sides. He is crouching behind a row of floral patterned dresses unaware that there is a mirror opposite!
I snoop on him from behind while he is still trying his best to snuggle and hide his tall frame behind the women skirts. As I rush towards him in a delighted squeal he turns around startled with a grin which quickly turns to disappointment on realizing he was just few ticks away from victory.
Mission accomplished we head back to the starting point where it is his turn now to play the seeker. The mall staff have a bemused look on their faces as for the next 20 minutes father and son duo are seen scampering around that floor hiding behind mannequins, a wall column and even an empty trial room!
This is how times have changed. When my son asks to play chess or a game of cricket with him it is on the mobile app. When we play hide and seek it is not in a playground or park but in a mall which we frequent more these days and spend time in.
But as a parent I have to make the most of the time I have with my child. If that means playing one of our favourite childhood games (I still remember hiding behind a thick shrub or in the garage of our old house many years ago) in a glitzy fashion mall then so be it.
For change is the only thing constant and judging by the pace of things the times are not just changing.
They have already changed.