Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, November 5, 2009

Legends of lost games

Before the apartment blocks and shiny commercial towers gobbled up the playgrounds, before coaching and tuitions took over playtime, and long before PS2, whole neighbourhoods were united in simple games that required little more than a little space to run around with, and a dash of energy and enthusiasm. This week, the Rising Stars team turns back the clock to revisit and relive those games, once popular, now forgotten.

Top notch
In a little alcove, on a stairway that no one used because they had the elevator, two little boys met up. This was their daily rendezvous. They both worked in the apartments, house helps and it was rare for them to get respite and even rarer for them to play. They came from one of the numerous poverty-ridden districts, their parents worked and they were expected to work too. But they were little boys.

They both took out crude, wooden tops, and long laces that were worn. And they both spun. Intent eyes fixed on spinning tops, waiting for the speed to slacken so they could rewind them just as quickly. They were careful not to release them too hard, the nail points could scuff the marble.

They laughed, their voiced echoing. One of them commented on how the kid in the house he worked in couldn't even wrap the lace around the top properly. The other commented that the girl in his house didn't even know latims. They talked about how they watched cartoons with tech-inspired tops. They laughed again. The real thing was so much better.

By Tareq Adnan

We Used to fly…

“If I gave you pretty enough kites,
Could you paint a picture of us that flies?
With emphasis on design in an azure blue sky
Aren't you tired?
Cause I remember you too
On a broken field and kites on wings
I have been pulling strings for a while…”

The sky had just a hint of rain, the smell of dirt and wind. Enough. The birds were rustling, moving, the storm coming. They flew away. But there were still shapes cleaving the clouds. If one were to strain hard enough, the strings, toughened nylon, could be seen connecting the diamond shapes flitting through cumulus to two small beings on a field.

They held natais, strings wrapped around sticks. They slackened and pulled, and the soaring shapes moved to their whim. Their mastery was awe-inspiring. You could hear them shout if you listened hard enough over the roar of traffic coming from the road that cuddled the field.

The kites moved, circling each other like preying hawks, dipping and swinging to their master's ministrations. A war was being fought and the sky needed a master. The two boys ran all over the field, guiding their flying steeds, oblivious. One of them would have his strings cut, have his kite brought low. But for now, they both angled, searching for that one slicing dive that could severe the other. And then it happened.

One of them kept pulling at the natai but to no avail. The kite flew away. Laughter, so sweet and uncaring.

By Tareq Adnan

Borof pani
Do you remember the days when you ran out with friends and played Freeze Tag? For those who don't remember the way it went, freeze tag, or borof pani is a mix of tag and Rescue with any number of players, and no fixed duration.

The rules are simple: Two teams are chosen. Then the two leaders either do something dignified like a coin toss or go nuts and do the whole bubble-gum-in-a-dish or obu-dosh-bish rhyme bit between the leaders and whoever gets left out leads the group that's going to get chased. Players of one team try to outrun their pursuers while the other team gives chase. If a player gets tagged, he or she freezes where they are standing. The only way that player is able to return to the game is if a member from their team comes and releases them by tagging them back and thereby 'unfreezing'.

Each player gets three chances to get unfrozen before being eliminated.

When all the team players in the chased group are cornered and tagged, you start over with the other group now being chased.

In another variation, Freeze tag is played differently in that once a player is tagged, they remain frozen while one chaser, not a team of chasers, goes on freezing the other players. Whoever remains from being tagged at the end wins.

Like most things, even Freeze Tag has gone digital. There is technology that enables players to play tag using GPS to locate players and tag them like in videogames, there's laser tag that uses laser guns that register in your helmet when they hit you, therefore letting you know you're 'tagged' and there's the paintball version of tag where you get shot with paintballs in order to get tagged. But simpler days had freeze tag, and that was pretty cool to play too.

By Tanzia Amreen Haq



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