Little Abdu’s favourite toy was the alphabet train puzzle. He loved putting the pieces together – like a train. He also found joy in matching the alphabets to images and learning words written on the pieces.
One night, when his Mumma was too drained to have a full-blown reading session, she found a new way to bond and make him learn language. She asked Abdu to look around for things in the room and identify words linked to the different alphabets. While he did not want to stop playing the guessing game, he was happiest to know that his Mumma’s favourite thing in the room started with the letter A.
The session delayed his bedtime, but his Mumma was still happy. She had discovered a fun way to keep him engaged without toys, in or outside of home…and to help him OBSERVE, THINK and CONNECT.
“Cheque Mate” – two words I grew up hearing more often than not in my Indian household while keenly observing my father and brother play the game of strategy together. The honour and pride I would see on their faces while saying these words, would always make me feel this game was special. But probably like many other Indian girls growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was only a silent spectator of the game for years together. It was assumed, as it was for many other games or sports in India, that women do not like playing chess!
30 years later when I finally got a chance to say cheque mate while playing the game on a floor with pawns almost as high as my knees, I could not help but grin with delight. I always knew there was more to the game of strategy when I saw the design being replicated on streets and floors in different nooks of the world. Despite the controversy around its place of origin (India or China), I had no qualms about representing the game on the cover of my next Lit Tale – My Indian Games.
Most children can be taught to play chess when they are about 5 or 6 years old, but my 3 year old and I had a lot of fun pasting the white squares in alternate positions while creating the game. While running his little fingers up and down, over and over again, on the “alternate” white squares, he discovered that numbers do not necessarily follow the sequence of “1,2,3…”.
The design of the game can be used to explain many different number related concepts to kids in a fun way. My greatest joy though will come the day I am able to inspire young boys and girls to create and play this game of honour, strategy, and pride with their parents to preserve the culture of indoor games and enjoy some great bonding time together!