It is amazing the services which a humble rubber band provided to us when we were kids. These would enter home via unobtrusive ways. Some came wrapped around boxes of sweets while some came holding together a roll of brown paper or chart paper. Very rarely were these bought; probably they were considered inconsequential and luxury items. They came in various avatars, the plain vanilla black ones cut from old cycle tubes (sometimes if you were unlucky you got one with a bit puncture repair rubber piece still affixed to it!). There were also the slightly refined-looking red ones. And then the thicker and longer gorgeous-looking dark pink ones.
We would find many ways to put the rubber bands to good use. These were ideal “toys” to play around with when one had nothing to do. You would, for example, just take one of these, stick your thumbs at either end and twist them around into various shapes as you were idling time. In case the time on hand got too much and the itch to “do something” took over the rubber bands would be an effective way to give a little “nudge” to the neighboring kid in the classroom. You would pull a rubber band taut and release it close to the earlobe of an unsuspecting kid sitting next to you. The sharp “zing” the poor kid felt for a few seconds and the startled look on his face was such a joy to behold. If you were adventurous enough you could even “target” someone sitting diagonally across the classroom. A “bullet” fashioned out of a torn strip from a notebook page and a rubber band twirled around the forefinger and thumb of the left hand. The “bullet” placed on the rubber band and pulled taut. You would take aim at your target and let the “bullet” go flying across. The poor chap would never know what hit him, and from where! If you were dexterous enough and had access to a few accessories, you could even fashion out a “gun” with the help of a few empty matchboxes, matchsticks and a couple of strong rubber bands.
There were other constructive uses too for the rubber band. For example, fixing droopy socks. A string rubber band slipped over the toes across the sock-clad foot, would be fixed an inch before the sock ended. The top of the sock would be rolled over to conceal the rubber band, and there we had the ‘’no-droop” sock. Never mind the neat ring around the ankle at the end of a school day. A somewhat similar application was fixing the errand end of the belt if it drooped for want of a suitably placed loop along the trouser waistline. A twined rubber band slipped on to the belt before it was worn would solve the problem! “Cheap and best” as they say in the North.
The uses of rubber band extended to multiple areas like girls using it to tie their braids. Or, when you were a real kid, wrapping a rubber band or two along the left wrist and posing as if one was wearing a watch! Lost your eraser? No problem! Just twirl a rubber band around non-writing end of your pencil and you got a passable erasing power. Just the right reply to those amongst us who would carry those expensive eraser-tipped pencil. A couple of larger rubber bands knotted together would even serve as a handcuff while playing cops-and-robbers!
Ah, the joys of the versatile rubber band!