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Seasonal games April 16, 2009

Posted by globejam in Traditional Games.
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Long ago, when I was a kid, before television started providing intravenous entertainment, we used to be out playing in the streets all the time. During those days, for inexplicable reasons, games used to be seasonal, like fruits before the advent of cold storage!

One such season would start every year in early August. There would be ample signs around for the discerning. General merchants would notice a significant jump in the sale of commodities such as thread, bamboo sticks, colour paper, and gum. Wholesalers of powder dyes would be swamped with significantly higher demands, especially for red and black dyes. Burnt out light bulbs were much sought after and even perfectly working ones disappeared from their sockets with considerable regularity, much to the chagrin of parents and householders. Schools and PT masters complained of missing wicket keeping gloves. Cycle repair shops did rich business selling threadbare cycle tubes that were long past their useful lives. The items that disappeared from homes all over the city, ranging from boiled rice to broom sticks, would have befuddled the best of detectives, unless, of course, one already knew that it was the start of the one of most colourful times in the city – the season of kites.

Of course, most of the ingredients mentioned above went into the making of kites and the killer manja thread used to fly the kites and our house was not immune to these strange happenings. In fact, with 3 enterprising boys in the house, it probably had more than its (un)fair share of disappearances. Soon after the onset of the season, my mother would begin softly with “Arey, did you see the broom that was here yesterday? I am sure I kept it right here behind this door” when the first disappearances started. Within a couple of days, as more things went missing, the tone would become a little suspicious and she would ask, “Hey! B, Did you take the 60 watt bulb from the verandah?”.  Soon the questioning would  become more demanding with “C, Bring back the tubelight now, don’t deny it. I know you must have taken it”.  Finally, in a matter of a week or so, her voice would reach a shrill cresendo and she’d shriek “If I find anything else missing from now on, I will break all your hands”.

We were used to these threats and would lie low for a couple of days at this stage before resuming our pilfering. When more threats failed to work, my mother would change tack and try to scare us boys into giving up kite flying by recounting horrendously exaggerated urban legends of  kite horrors. “Boys, I read in the newspaper yesterday that three boys, about your ages, flying kites from the terrace of a high-rise building, just like the one you go to, fell down and broke their necks. Don’t fly kites or this will happen to you”, she would say.   Or “Did you know that a guy riding his scooter down our road had his head cut off by some boy’s manja thread?” she would exclaim with widened eyes. Instead of fear and disgust, she would only find admiration for the manja owner shining in our eyes and compliments of “cool manja” on our lips. Undaunted by the lack of any positive reaction she would set free her imagination, and add “and they arrested the boy and put him in jail along with the severed head for three days. I believe that the head was wailing and cursing the boy throughout. The boy has learnt his lesson and has vowed never to touch a kite or use manja thread again”.  The story would be met not with fear and dread but uncontrollable giggling.

With her entire repertoire of options exhausted, she would then reconcile herself to another month of tension and shelve her anti-kite campaign for another year.

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Comments»

1. padmajav - April 17, 2009

there are so many such games which have gone extinct now.. sad..
PS: i heard u guys mixed something despicable to manja too.. something to do with dogs… is that true?!

2. globejam - April 17, 2009

Is possible. We may have. I can’t tell you.


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