Hop a little, jump a little

What my friends and the games I played with them taught me

When I was young,( well I am still young, just 35 to be precise, what I meant was young enough for school), my evenings were always reserved for my colony friends. We were a bunch of 4-6 girls. My bestie Mona Shah Bhalavat would come to my house and call out my name “tiiiimsiiii” and however busy I was with my school work or even in my deepest sleep or by chance if I was in the loo I would yell out,”eee aaayiiiiiii” to assure her that she has been heard. And with the same promptness my mom would yell out,”dhoodh pike jaana”.

This was an everyday drill religiously followed by all of us and once we all gathered we would decide what to play. It could be skipping ropes, pagathiya(hop scotch), lock and key, nagolchu, sakdi, thappo, cycling or just simple daud pakad. If none of these were exciting enough then we would all head to the common playground and go beserk on the slide, swing and see saw. We were always outdoors. The only times we were indoors was during rains and that too if we had been  warned  to not soak anymore clothes because the house is already filled with wet and damp ones and there is no place to hang more. At these times we would switch to playing cards, snakes and ladders, ludo , carom or the all time favourite ghar ghar. My cousins are also an integral part of my playing days. Summer vacations used to bring all of us together under one roof and then we were unstoppable.

Today when I am reflecting on my past, I realised that these simple games that I played with them for fun were actually shaping my personality. And my friends and cousins, who I used to fight with about petty things like,“ main out nahi hu”

“ mera  daav nahi hai”

“main saat daav nahi dungi”

“ taro pag line par adiyo, main joyu che”

“kale mane bolava na aavti, hu nahi ramu tari jode”

These god given gifts to me actually taught me such profound life lessons with such ease.

Snakes and ladder taught me that you cannot be on the top all the time, someone else is going to take your place someday.  The same people who you leave behind while climbing a ladder,  will be there when you slip down after a snake bites. And some of these very people will stand with you and pray for the dice to roll a six so that you can climb the ladder again. And some will want the snake to bite so that you slip down further.  There are even some who want you to win to make someone else lose or vice versa.  And this is life. You meet all kinds of people and learn to take them all in your stride.

A game of carom taught me that even if you are hit with difficulties from all sides, don’t lose hope. Ultimately some day you will strike back and all the scattered pieces will fall in place.

The outdoor games were a lesson in team work, to keep others before me, to accept defeat,  to not lose patience even if my daav doesn’t seem to end, to fight for what is rightfully my(hu out nathi to nathi), to not gang up against a weak one, to help each other in times of need(we used to do each other’s homework sometimes so that we can play more) and most importantly never ever cheat because cheating hurts others. I may win today if I cheat but I lose my friends trust. And the quiet lonely evenings after a fallout were soooo boring and sooo quiet and lonely!!! They taught me to let go of the ego and that a sorry doesn’t hurt, it makes you friends again and spreads smiles!!!

I wonder whether my kids will ever enjoy these games considering the fact that the i-pad and tv has become their playground and the friends are more virtual than real. I always keep encouraging them to be outdoors, get soaked in the rains and get sweaty and muddy but not everything is in my control. I can only try my best to introduce them to these games. I wish what I learned so easily and effortlessly, yuhi khelte khelte, I am able to pass on to them too. I wish them to be blessed with everlasting friendship!!


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