The jungle was as mystic as it was miraculous. The creepers that acted as swings in daylight, doubled up as creepy hands at night. The swishing river that gurgled under the sun, roared in moonlight. Nahh… I wasn’t going to believe any of it. Growing up in concrete jungles, every folklore was a figment of the local’s imagination for, me.
“Munna, the boys are calling you for a game of lagori” Dadi’s voice trembled out of Parkinson’s. Vacations and Dadi were inseparable.
“Right away, I’m coming.” I signaled the boys to go ahead. Like any destination, the field where the lagori tournament was to be played had two paths; the right- beating around the village, the not so right-cutting through the jungle. Boys, the metropolitan fed ones, preferred the not so right path. It gave them a thrill and later, a story to boast about their valor. Thus, the not so right path witnessed me- a carefree teenager, meddle his way. On the creepy creepers, I swung like Tarzan. Along the swollen river, I splashed gleeful water. With the polished stones at the riverbed, I tried to build my own lagori. One..two..three..they all came tumbling down. Jaded, I scaled up a grassy knoll. There it was a magnificent lagori to uplift my spirits. Something that my teenage had ever seen. The stones arranged in perfect synchronization. The horn of one poked the butt of other but none of the stones moved, as if a spell was cast on them. So lost was I in the beatific sculpture, that I failed to notice the supple hand carefully maneuvering it. There she placed one more pebble, on the top.
“Heyy, are you mad? The whole thing will tumble down. Hold your excited horses!” I almost yelled, barging into her tranquility.
Turning around, her dewdrop like eyes smiled. “Come here, my little guest.” Her mellifluous voice, I was drawn like bee to honey.
“Sit. I will show you, how this works.”
On the pretext of lagori, I started visiting my new friend on the hillock. She told me stories of buds and butterflies, of cats and caterpillars, of babies and boons. We joked, tickled and rolled down the hill. We sang melodies while building the lagori.
One day, “Munna, the boys were saying you don’t play with them anymore.” Dadi’s voice steadier, and hands firmly massaging my unruly hair.
“I will take you to meet my new friend tomorrow.” I assured her and slept tight.
“Come on Dadi, just a few more steps.” Dadi trembled with age, ache and anxiety.
Ahaaa…the spectacular lagori stood there replenished in prolific glory. But she wasn’t seen.
“Dadi, we meet here itself, everyday. Don’t know where she is today?” Puzzled, I searched for her.
“Munn..nn…aaaa,” Dadi’s Parkinson had aggravated. I had to immediately take her home. That night itself, I was summoned to the city. Since then, vacations never dawned in Dadi‘s abode.
Years later, the memories of my friend, lured me to the not so right path and the magnificent lagori.
The cairn, as I had learned to call it in the concrete jungles, bore a board, ‘In the memory of our loving Maya.’ Why hadn’t I seen it then?
I trembled. Was Parkinson’s hereditary?
Lagori: game of pile of stones to be hit by a ball that resembles a cairn.
The boy here mistakes a cairn with lagori.
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