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Ludo #JusJoJan 2023

Hello! I’ve decided to join in on Just Jot it January hosted by Linda G. Hill. Today’s prompt is “family” by J-Dub.

It was such a fine afternoon outside. A perfect afternoon to play seven stones. Dolly peeked through the curtains. The maidan lay empty. The ground was baked sienna by the heat. Withered trees threw charcoal shadows with their twisted twig like arms.

But Maa.. Dolly frowned. Maa fussed over her so much.

“You can go at five o clock. There is a heat wave going around.” Maa had said. Maa was right though. She remembered how her friend Radha had collapsed while playing in the maidan. Sunstroke. The adults had said. One had to be careful. Now Radha was cooped up at home, where even Dolly was not allowed to visit her. There was no one else to play with.

Being the only sister with two older brothers was a pain. Maa and Baba guarded her like a little flower that might wilt in the weather. Dolly hated being babied. She was eight. Having older brothers also meant they often excluded her from their games.

“You can’t play cricket with us.” Said Bhaiya as he stormed off to the bigger maidan with the cricket gear.

“You won’t understand chess. Its an advanced game.” Dada liked to play alone. So what else could she do? Dolly sulked. Dada wouldn’t teach her chess. Bhaiya shooed her away whenever she tried to tag along to watch the cricket match.

Maa and Baba were busy with their duties. One in the kitchen and one in the study. Dolly grimaced. No one seemed to have any time left for her. There was only one place where she could find some fun.

The loft.

The loft was located under the roof, a space where Maa stored ancient utensils and Baba kept his books and files. Many other strange items also were stashed onto the loft. An old vaccum cleaner, brass pots from her grannies’ time, boxes and boxes of knicknacks. An old rotary telephone. Dolly’s best find had been a pencil sharpner that could be operated by a hand crank.

Baba had been so estatic with her find that he had let her keep it. Very soon after that Dolly found a new excuse to sharpen every pencil in area. The fun had lasted until Bhaiya had complained that all his Staedlers, which he used for his architectural blueprints had been reduced to stubs and even Maa could not find a whole pencil to jot down her grocery list.

The sharpner had been taken away by Baba as a punishment. Now he only allowed her to use it if she was a good girl.

Today in the dingy loft where sunlight streamed through the gaps in the slats, Dolly sat atop an old trunk sifting through cardboard boxes. The books and papers she had skimmed through were all stodgy, with technical terms that only adults understood. Trial and court. Medical books of her grandpa’s time with scary images that disgusted her. She wished she could find some treasure. One time she had chanced upon a sparrow’s nest. It was of course empty, but she had been proud of her find.

Her puff sleeved frock was coated with dust and grime. Sure, Maa would scold her but that was Maa. At the very end of the book pile that she had removed was a large rectangle box. Something rattled in it. Dolly lifted it out, sneezed twice and wiped the dust with the hem of her frock.


A game!

Eyes shining, Dolly hurriedly pulled the box apart. Four houses were painted on the wooden board. Red, Yellow, Green, Blue. Little pawn shaped blobs of the same color rested in a sweet carton along with a die. Dolly’s eyes shone.

Finally something exciting!

“Dolly!” Maa’s voice carried into the loft. “Dolly! What mischief are you upto?”

Dolly hurried out of the loft. She half slid and half scrambled down the stairs. Maa stood in the hallway, her arms akimbo and a thin line of irritation surfacing across her eyebrows.

“Look at you! You look like you rolled around in the loft. And this frock! I sewed it just for you! You have no heart for you treat it so unkindly!” Dolly grimaced at Maa’s lecture. “My beautiful frock…” Maa took the frilled hemline into her hands. “Dolly…what junk did you find this time? Why must you sneak up there like a little rat and roll about in decades of dust?”

Dolly didn’t mind Maa’s sharp words.

“I found this game!” She shoved the Ludo into Maa’s arms and grinned. Maa gasped. “Ludo! I thought we lost this game during the various renovations in the house.”

Maa’s fingers traveled over the shabby board. She finally gave Dolly a smile. Dolly beamed. Her Maa always looked so beautiful when she smiled, especially when the dimple appeared on her cheek!

“This is a good find. However…” Dolly braced herself for another scolding. Maa patted her cheek. “Freshen up and we will play it after evening tea.”

It was a Sunday the family was home.

After tea Maa set up the board and they gathered onto the floor.

“Ludo is such a boring game.” Bhaiya murmured. He’d rather watch a movie than play an indoor game. Dolly pouted. Dada gave Bhaiya a whack across the head.

“Don’t be a spoilsport.” He looked at Maa. “Ludo is…a family game.” Maa said warmly. Baba adjusted his spectacles and nodded gravely.

“And now…Dolly can play with us right?” Dada fondly mussed up Dolly’s freshly washed hair. She beamed.

Bhaiya’s frown vanished. He looked a little ashamed.

“Alright. Let’s play Ludo.”

I thought of various ways to approach this prompt, but when I thought of family, I remembered the game of Ludo I would play with my parents when I was a child. Board games bring people closer. My friends and I bonded over online ludo in the lockdown during the pandemic and it was a fun way to keep in touch.

Thanks for reading 💕


Published by Aboli Mane

Poet. Writer. Blogger. I post short reads, and poetry on A Writer In The Room. I published my debut poetry book "An Aster's Solitude" in 2019. Currently: Writing my first novel, an animal fantasy in a fictional world. Follow me to keep yourself updated.

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