Friday, July 10, 2015

Gumma Banda gumma - Guest post by Rajaram

Over the last weekend, Abhay and I went for a play at Rangashankara and were so taken in by the play that we couldn't stop talking about it! So Divya asked me to pen down a few thoughts about the play leading up to this guest post on Onestoryaday....

What are children afraid of? They are afraid of nothing and yet are afraid of a lot of things. Is this a paradox? No.. …if we rephrase and replace “afraid” with “bother” it would probably be clearer.  Almost nothing that bothers the grown-ups bother children. But there are so many things in their little brains and their little-large world that bother them. The beautiful part  is that  none of those botherations last long.  In their world, there are friendships, fights, truce, bartering of little possessions, enemies, friends - all going through a constant change which many a times  is hard to understand for grown-ups. Why? because we are no longer children we used to be! 

The reason for my musings is a play that I watched with my son last weekend in Ranga Shankara, "Gumma Banda Gumma" written by  Surendranath and directed by  Sundar, who had acted as a child in the first production of the play 22 years ago! This history was proudly shared to us by the director of Rangashankara, Arundhati Nag. The play revolves around Putta and Munni who are siblings and Gunda, the neighborhood rough kid. These protagonists are ably supported by Putta and Munni's mother and Gunda's short tempered father who believes that beating up the boy will set everything right. The play beautifully portrays the relentless banter,  mischief and never ending questions of Putta and Munni that drives their mother up the wall, the fears of Putta about an invisible Ghost (Gumma) in the night, their conflict with the rough kid Gunda and a natural graduation of their conflict into friendship. The siblings quarrel throughout but they are always one when the mother 
confronts them. Another aspect of childhood being dealt with is that the  value of any object in a child's eye is never the same as the supposed value in the real world!  For instance, Putta trades his bicycle with Gunda for a toy gun which he is most eager to play, but for his mom’s disapproval. This leads to a conundrum that drives the play to it's climax, drags both the parents and finally unites the kids. But in all the commotion, the children still don't see bicycle as being more valuable than a toy gun!

This is one of the few plays I was so engrossed in watching and it took me back to my childhood and reminded me of similar such conflicts I used to have with my sister. It's a must watch for all children and people who want to get nostalgic about childhood and innocence. 

Going by the tradition at Onestoryaday, there's always a book for every occasion..  and Divya picked out a book for us to read together... "The Tunnel" by one of our favourite authors,  Anthony Browne. This is an intriguing story about Jack and Rose, a brother-sister duo who were anything but alike each other. Jack loved outdoors, played football with his friends and Rose loved indoors and spent time reading and dreaming. When they were together….. they were constantly arguing and fighting, much to their mother's annoyance. Tired of their acrimonious fights, one day, she sends them out with a warning that they better be nice to each other and be back in time for lunch. So Jack and Rose wander about .. .scowling and snapping at each other until they come across what looks like a tunnel. Jack who loves exploring outdoors crawls into the tunnel while Rose waits anxiously outside. After waiting for what seems like long time, Rose reluctantly decides to follow her brother. Scared and nervous, Rose enters the dark and damp tunnel to find herself in a forest at the other end. As she walks through the deep woods, all the while thinking of wolves and demons. Beyond the forest, she sees a stone statue she recognises .... of her brother! Distraught that it's probably too late... she puts her arms around the statue and slowly her brother comes back to life! They then trace their way back home and their mother noticing their unusual silence asks them if everything's alright when the siblings give each other a knowing smile! So much is said yet so much is left to imagination….that’s Anthony Browne for you! The tunnel encounter proves that no matter how different you are or how many times you fight with your sibling, the bond you share with your sibling is special and in a way irreplaceable! As Abhay watched the play, he wondered aloud if his baby sister would grow up to be like Munni in the play! Well... may be, may not be......welcome to the life with siblings is ... trust it to be much more adventurous! J

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