In the age of online and offline gaming, games played in open fields are disappearing rapidly. But there was a time when games that needed actual running and moving with real people existed. Those games are still played here and there, but not a lot of teenagers know how to play.
But if one asked someone born in the ‘90s, those exciting games with friends were what made the blues of their little hearts disappear and made their pasts pure golden.
There were times when life was about waiting for the clock to strike four in the afternoon, shimmering excitement in eyes, and getting shoelaces tightly tied. Only the mud and sweat in the body and clothes would testify to the beautiful times spent after returning home.
City or village, the alleys and empty roads, open grounds or backyard, river banks and rooftops would be filled with a group of children and young adults. Growing up into adults who hardly have any time even to take a walk, those places would be supersonic jets to memory lanes.
The long lost, almost non-existent games are unknown to the current kids. But hiding under the big, mysterious trees in the dark while playing Lukochuri, the gentle, unanimous touch to the forehead in Ful Tokka and crossing ‘enemy regions’ in a single jump in Dariabandha, etc. are childhood to the adults of the present.
Those beautiful games took some efforts to master, but once one would learn properly, that used to become the shortcut to popularity among the same age group. Everyone would fight for the good players to be on their side.
Some games needed a lot of movements like running, jumping or lung capacity to hold breath. Borof Paani, Chhowa-Chhuwi and Gollachut were games that needed running all the time. One moment of rest and boom! Game over.
Some games were like rescue missions that needed both agility and stealth. Bouchi is a game where the opposition has to take the ‘bou’ to the fixed rectangle without being touched. The player has to hold his breath saying ‘chii…’ Noushin Salsabil, a third-year student of BBA at BRAC University, reminisces the enthralling times playing this game.
“When I was little, I lived in an office quarter. We would play many games in groups and Boucchi was my favourite. I could hold my breath longer than anyone and that would make me the top player every time!”
The conventional hide and seek has a beautiful name in this region, Lukochuri. The one to find the best place to camouflage themselves between the trees, the rocks, a pile of unused bricks in the backyard, inside a haystack or that old abandoned house would win.
For added fun, playing with cousins is recommended by Shakib Adnan Ovi, a 2nd-year student of Finance at Bangladesh University of Professionals.
“My best friends were my cousins. When I would visit my grandmother’s home, we used to play Lukochuri and trust me, no better place to hide than an old building like ours. When someone would bust the seeker and shout Tiloo! Everyone would jump out of their hiding places and shout together out of joy.”
Some games are almost extinct now. MD. Mizanur Rahaman is an Interior Designer and Artist owning his farm 'Dot n Line'. When asked about his childhood, he mentioned some really interesting but extinct games along with some familiar ones.
“It was nearly impossible for us to even think of being home all day. We would play Danguli, a game that you have to play with a stick hitting another stick when it jumps from the ground and hit it to go further than anyone.
“There was also a game called Batto. It was played with two ‘chara’ made of hard clay or cement or metal chain balls. If one ‘chara’ hit the other, then you would get ‘Tash’ or playing cards that were actually empty cigarette packets collected from the streets. I take my daughter to my village twice every year to let them see the kids there playing some of our old games.”
The 90’s kids might as well remember playing Dariabandha and Ful Tokka or Tagar-Palash-Beli, regardless of village or town. These games didn’t take much space and were really fun to play. But one of the most popular was Shatchara. Teams fighting hard to protect their charas from the enemy and saving themselves from the ball of attack was quite thrilling.
Mohammad Saiful Islam, a student of MSS in the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at the University of Dhaka, described his childhood to be full of adventures and amusements, thanks to these games.
"I remember those days when we used to study in Kerosene lamp's light during load-shedding. As the light was not much bright, soon I would start complaining and my mother would eventually permit me to go out to play. Load-shedding meant an occasion for celebration to the kids. Same aged kids would all come out and we used to play Moumachi, Ful tokka, Lukochuri, Shat Chara, Chhowa-chhuwi, Akash-batash and many more that I can't even remember.”
However, there is nothing but empty sighs about what he observes regarding today’s children.
“Those were the days, when leisure meant gathering together and playing, unlike today’s kids, who sadly don't even have a yard outside, let alone playing. Even the nights were brighter with the opportunity to go out again if the load-shedding hit."
Childhood was golden because of the free space kids had back then. But with more and more development of online media and gaming platforms, the connection to soil is almost gone. The wet mud and freshly mutilated grass while playing would always be the healing power to many of the adults now.
The book of life has walked, ran and lived through the golden past filled with games with friends, lost or present. But these long lost games shall live to remind us about the wonderful childhood that today’s adults used to have once.
Tahseen Nower is a second year student of Journalism at Dhaka University.