Ludo, digitally!


The kids are super excited that their father and I have joined them for a game of Ludo. We are a little rusty but quickly reacquaint.
There’s a huge difference, we are playing Ludo digitally on the tablet. We get started…the first thing that hits me is that there is no dice to roll, the application does all the hard work. Cleverly positioning the dice on the board, while appearing to roll it, is no longer possible. No scrambling on all fours to look for the dice that has rolled under the sofa.

image

The kids are very enthusiastic….razor sharp observers..every move is planned and executed. Maybe it is age; or maybe it is a dulling of the competitive streak within me, but I am very passive in my play.
However, the children more than make up for it. They boo, they clench their fists, wish the worst for their sibling, cross their fingers & toes ….all wishing for that magical 6 or 4 or 1 that they want.
My shoulders silently shake in mirth. I can picture this scene 30 years ago, as my sisters and I bayed for each others’ blood, even for these simple board games. My daughter catches me laughing…her irritation peaks.
My son has assumed two Avatars for this game, the first is that of an aggressor…out to vanquish his sister; the second as a protector of his innocent mom, who he feels is so innocent as to require saving from the wily moves of the other players. He sacrifices a move to protect my coin, his sister smirks…’oh, how kind you are’! My son holds my hand reassuringly and glares at her.
The game goes on…they swear that they will not speak to each other. The winner does a victory dance, the other heaps curses…business as usual. The house is silent..the children are not talking to each other.

The next day…they are at a loose end, ego is sacrificed as they sign a truce and the game starts again.

A Century-old tradition


image

Today is Vishu, our New Year. The specialty of this celebration is the way we ring-in the New Year.

On new year’s eve, after the kids are asleep, elders in the family set-up an altar, whose centre-piece is a mirror. The mirror is decorated with a garland of flowers and a gold chain. Around the mirror are kept small bowls with raw rice, lentils and yellow-coloured fruits like lemons, mangoes, papaya and a yellowed cucumber. A seasonal yellow flower is also considered auspicious.

In addition to all these, old coins that have been in the family, crisp new currency notes and new coins are also kept at the altar.

In the morning, the oldest family member, walks with closed eyes and positions himself before the mirror and looks at himself in the mirror, with all the essentials in life like food and money, hoping that the new year will bring the family happiness and prosperity.

Each member of the family is brought to the altar, with their eyes closed and then asked to view themselves in the mirror.

Family elders give cash gifts to all others in the family. Then the whole family sits down to a sumptuous meal comprising more than 15 dishes spread out on a banana leaf.

image

Last night, as we decorated the altar, I observed the old coins given to us by my parents-in-law. I was surprised to see that the coins were dated 1904, 1912, 1916, 1917 and 1918. 

image

Wow, a century has passed. I wonder how many women have used these very same coins, to ring in the new year, over the last ten decades. Who were these women, what were they like? I will never know these things.

But I draw comfort from the fact that these traditions have outlived people and continue to bind us across time.

For my children, the excitement is more from the gifts they receive rather than from the traditions we follow.

But they watch us every year and when the time comes,  I am sure they will treasure these coins. Both for the allied memories of their childhood and to revel in the ancestral love that has been passed down through these coins.