Those days were violent (not literally though!). We were rebels without causes with bloodthirsty menace written all over our faces. We sought the blood of our bitterest rivals and always wanted to destroy them in the meanest ways possible. We were real badasses and outlaws until our mothers sent someone to drag us home and perhaps give a slap or two for being late.
Then reality would strike, and we were no longer soldiers on the battlefields, neither were we Shaolin masters fighting the inner devil; we were mere school kids, pre-teens spending our times playing video games.
A huge part of growing up as a 90s kid was sneaking out of the home at odd hours, when parents were away at work or busy with household trivialities. Oh the 90s!
Those were the times of Walkman, baggie jeans, fancy sunglasses and weird hair-dos. But for kids like us, shorts or bermudas (we called them half-pants anyway!) were the uniform of choice. Playing football, cricket, table-tennis, badminton on local playgrounds, which we had in numbers, were our favorite activities.
But whenever our exams would be knocking at our doors, to escape our parents' watchful eyes, we would choose playing video games.
The arcade game shops were usually concealed inside narrow alleys, so from a distance we could not be spotted. Every locality had at least one of these, which was our very own happy place.
We would spend many afternoons in those half-lit, congested shops, wearing our half-pants, with a dream in our eyes to be badasses and chop off demon heads.
Cadillac and Dinosaurs, Street Fighter, 1944 loop master were the staples for a kid who had just bunked school, coaching class or tuition to be in his favourite war zone.
The games we played used to be 32-bit which had very ordinary graphics and sound designs, compared to modern gaming consoles. However, for us, there was enough blood, gore and ammos to make us feel like battle pros. At times debates would go one for hours about who killed more enemies or destroyed more planes.
Over time, our fascination ('addiction' in our parents' dictionary) would only grow and at a boiling point, we fought over who was a better warrior.
The most interesting part was to manage the finance for playing the games, which were a lot for us given that we were only kids and never received any pocket money whatsoever. We would vigorously save our tiffin money or Eid salami without splurging on chocolates or CDs.
Every arcade game used to be coin operated and one coin used to cost Tk2. I would spent a maximum of Tk10 a day while my wealthier friends would go on spending as much as Tk20-25.
On special occasions, there were offers such as 15 coins in Tk20 and what not. Then again, it was not about the money, it was about the prowess we had over the joystick and how long we could survive the games with minimum expense.
At times to save ourselves from unnecessary expenditures, we used to have an agreement with the shop owner/manager. It was called the 'game over' agreement.
Instead of buying single coins, we would pay some extra money and were allowed to play until we could finish the game. Usually it cost a hefty amount (Tk20 to Tk30), but splitting in three would mean minimization of costs.
When it ended, it was time to go home where a regular boring life awaited. Also awaited our mothers with a glass of 'Tang' and raised eyebrows. Then there was the interrogation about why we were so late and as mentioned earlier, a possible beating or two.
After so many years, amidst usual tantrums, my mind always travels back to the video game screens, counting the enemies, planning my special moves, monitoring my life-meter. The 90s were indeed a special time.