More from Khumtia Debbarma | Adivasi Awaaz Creator
Translated from Kokborok by Hamari Jamatia
Before innovation and technology brought home toy trains and dolls, little children used to play games using material found in their vicinity. Be it “catch-catch” or “kabaddi,” children would gather together and spend their noons and evenings in group activities that required very little resources.
In Tripura, two games that are still commonly played using pebbles or broken brick chips are called Khori and Cheska. Let’s know more about these games from Sita and Priskila.
This game is played between two players while sitting on the ground. To play this game you need five pieces of broken brick chips or pebbles. It has roughly nine stages of playing.
The first player shakes the five chips and spreads them on the ground. They pick up one chip with their hand, throw it in the air, pick up another piece from the grown in their palm and then catch the chip in the air before it touches the ground. This way they pick up all the four chips on the floor one by one. If they drop any chips, the second player will start their game. This game tests the reflex movement of children as they have to be very quick.
The second stage is a repetition of the first one in as the player shakes the chips and spreads them on the floor. They pick up one chip and then throw it in the air. Now, instead of picking up just one chip at a time, they pick up two chips at a time from the floor before catching the first chip from the air.
In the third stage, the player follows the same process but this time they pick up three chips, and then one remaining chip.
In the fourth stage instead of spreading the chips like earlier, the player collects them in the palm and overturns their hand to place them on the floor in a bunch. The challenge here is to pick up one chip, throw it in the air and in the meantime pick up all four chips on the floor at once before catching the chip falling from the air.
Once again collect all five chips in the palm and throw them gently in the air so they land on the back of your palm in a bunch. Then throw them again and catch them with your palm. The challenge is to catch all five chips before they fall to the ground. Only experts in the game know how to do it.
The second stage of the play called “Khangrai yesing chokmai” begins. In this stage, the player crosses their index finger and middle finger and places their hand on the ground. They make an arch with the support of the crossed fingers and the thumb. It is done in such a way that there is a gap in the middle where the pebbles can cross.
The first part of the game is repeated but instead of catching the chips/pebbles, the player has to push them across the arch. First, the player throws the chips on the ground near the arch. They then pick up one chip and throw it in the air. In the meantime, they quickly push one chip across the arch before catching the first chip falling down the air. In this way, one by one all chips are pushed across the arch. Next, they spread the five chips on the ground again.They pick up one chip, throw it in the air and push two chips into the arch. In this way, each stage is repeated with one, two, three, and four pebbles.
After completing the above stages, the players now reach the part of the game called “Kurta”. Here the player again crosses their fingers and makes an arch with their thumb. They spread the chips on the floor and ask the opponent to mark a “king” chip. Usually, the opponent will select a chip that is farthest from the arch thereby making it difficult for the player to push it through the arch in one sweep. After the opponent selects the “king” chip, the player has to throw a chip in the air and sweep the chips one by one across the arch, keeping the “king” for the last. Once she has cleared all the other chips, she throws a single chip in the air and sweeps the “king” in one brisk movement.
Now is the time to count the “points” earned by the player. Once again, the player will gather all five chips, place them in a bunch in her palm and throw it in the air. She catches them at the back of her palm. She bounces them in the air and now catches them in her palm. Her points in this game are counted according to the number of chips she manages to catch. For example, if she catches all five chips, she earns five points; if she only catches one chip, she gets one point.
This game requires small chips or pebbles the size of peas. Sometimes, this game is played with a bunch of tamarind seeds as they are small in size. To play this game, the players need to have at least 30 chips. Basically, the players have to spread the chips on the floor and flick one chip against another chip like a carrom board game. The condition here is that, before flicking and hitting the other chip, the player has to cross one of her fingers between the two chips without touching either of them. Many people fail at this stage as the gap between two chips is sometimes too narrow to draw a finger between them. Secondly, even when the gap is large enough and a player can cross one finger between two chips, when she flicks one chip at another, the chips should not touch any other chips lying on the floor, a difficult feat to achieve.
Who will play first is decided by both players throwing the chips in the air and catching them. The player who catches the most chips gets to play first. The player spreads the thirty chips on the floor. She then asks the opponent which two chips she should play with first. The opponent tries to find the two chips that would be the most difficult. If she manages to hit them, she gets to repeat the game with other chips. Otherwise, the other player takes over. Whoever wins the most chips wins the game.
These games, or some version of it, are played in many parts of the country. What was it called in your state/ region? Were the rules the same?