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Games We Played.

We were far less in number from the times when our parents were kids. My maternal grandmother gave birth to eight children, which weren’t too many then, but one of my uncles and an aunt were younger to their nephew. Yes, the first born (son) of our eldest maternal aunt is elder to one of our uncles (Mama) and one aunt (Mausi). So there used to be times in the family when mother and daughter both could be carrying babies. On the paternal side, our grandmother bore fourteen children, eight out of which survived past teens but our only Bhua (aunt), died soon after her marriage. In comparison, we were just five, out of which four have survived.

The children used to come in quick succession and it was difficult both for the parents and the children too. Today, much is spoken about sibling rivalry, so much in fact that some people even go to the extent of getting some counseling given to the elder sibling in preparation of the arrival of the new baby. We learnt all the love and hate and of finding our own space and place and of fighting for our rights and defending our wrongs on the stage itself. Did we have any rivalry? O Boy! You bet, we could have killed one other on any given day for as trivial a thing as the miniature plastic figurines that the packs of Binaca toothpaste used to have and because new toothpastes were not opened every day, they were collector’s items. It is not that we were fractious kids, we were best of the pals too, but this sense of possession that is so inherent in the human beings, was there live and kicking in us. It could boil over without a warning anytime.

Infact we would always start our evening play session from home with a quick game of Ludo’s Snake and Ladder or another game that used to be on the flip side of the same board. Both the games start with the throw of a dice and the trouble could ensue right from there. Do you think throwing a dice was easy? It was like throwing a gauntlet in the ring. The fights among the children are hand to hand and they can get very dirty, not as bad as they got at the border with China recently, but as bad as they can get with bare hands and teeth and legs and feet. It is tough for the girls because they have long hair and it is easy to get hold of them and pull them. But the fights are short because, the underdogs get dirty and resort to biting. This results in screams and cries that draw quick attention of the parents. They often arrive quickly and their first job is to untangle the mess the children get locked in. Usually it is one on one. There is another dangerous weapon- the sharp nails. The skilled ones can use them with feline ferocity. I don’t know whether the parents intentionally intend to make things worse or they unknowingly slap the wrong person but somehow it always seems so and both parties complain of it. By wrong one, I mean the one who started the fight, but it is impossible for the parent to decide because both the rivals blame each other for it. Either the parents should give equal number of slaps to both the siblings but they don’t do that. They generally give a slap to the elder one, but the younger ones are no less cunning. They in fact fight with the survivor’s instinct which is keen in them.

The fights would often erupt when Dad wasn’t at home because we would only slink and scurry or whisper, when he was at home. Normally mom could manage to separate us. She would then ask us to play separately. It would be good if by then the neighbourhood friends would arrive, for then we would go out to play, where there used to be other children too and very often the boys and the girls played separate games. The girls usually played Hopscotch which we called Stapu

 

or gheete. It’s a game played with five stones and is played with a little variation all over Indian sub-continent.

and the boys played Pitthuu, Gulli Danda or Kanche ( Marbles)

Sometimes we played together when were asked by the parents to involve the young ones too in the games we played. Then we played Posham Pa Posham Pa.

 

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Navneet Bakshi

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RAMARAO Garimella
1 year ago

I still remember how my elder brother and I used to play and fight in equal measure. We used to make bow and arrows with broomsticks and fight just the way Rama used to kill his enemies with his arrows. The game of snakes and ladders came much later, and by that time we had grown up.

Suresh Rao
Suresh Rao(@sureshrao)
1 year ago

While playing Snakes and Ladders, we had made an amendment to the rules of the game because of the snake head boxes nightmare that exist in boxes 92 and 98. If the dice throw resulted in moving to one of these boxes… we took the option of moving backwards from wherever we were instead of moving forwards to land in one of these boxes!

Ushasurya
Ushasurya(@ushasurya)
1 year ago

Wonderful nostalgic sojourn Navneet.
Yes,,we had no fancy toys too and played hopscotch, snakes & ladders, Ludo, five stones ( Grandma was dead against it and would say that “House will be riddled with debts”, though then actual reason would be getting hurt in the eyes!!
We used to play carrom too!! We used talcum powder to wipe the board !!
Things have changed now and I rarely see kids playing out! Unless it is soccer or bsket ball or cricket!!

RAMARAO Garimella
1 year ago

Enjoyed reading about the games we played as kids. Although we grew up in different parts of the country, we had similar childhood. I must be at least ten years older than you, but my childhood was no different. It was worse as the country had not attained gained independence till I was eight.
RRG.

Suresh Rao
Suresh Rao(@sureshrao)
1 year ago

Yes. I have played all these games of skill and outdoor sports too in my teen years!

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