This is for the Tulika Blogathon 4 .
When we were small there were these six page books of "chhoras"or rhymes printed by a Bengali publisher . There were 3 or 4 volumes and they had a rhyme a page with very colourful and detailed illustrations. When I was a child I remember Ma and Thakuma reading out these rhymes When my older daughter was about a year old I was browsing through some books at a magazine stall when I chanced upon the books and promptly bought them to read out to her . My mother followed this up with “Chhorar Boi” a seminal collection of popular Bengali rhymes , with beautiful line drawings that have continued to enthrall children and grown ups alike through generations .
Khoka Ghumolo para jurolo
Borgi elo deshey
Bulbuli tey dhaan kheyechey khajna debo kishe
Dhaan furalo paan furalo
Khajna debi ki?
Like most old Bengali rhymes this was a direct hit at the Maratha marauders who terrorised
The painting shows a mother rocking a baby to sleep on her lap - the khoka of the rhyme and there is a hazy dreamy background of marauding dacoits on horseback and fields of paddy being harvested .
Another one goes like this
Chaand uthechhey phool phutechhey
Kadam tolay ke
Haathi nacchhey ghora nachhey
Laal moja paaye
Boro boro didira sab unki mere chaaye
Khoka phirey na takaaye
It is ironic and predictably so , that Shonamunis or Ranis always got married or got their leg pulled because they could not cook “payesh” ( kheer / rice pudding ) or gazed admiringly at the brother(as in the rhyme above) - a chubby little boy in short dhoti, a red jacket and bright red socks and turban going off to war with a wooden sword and a scowl , thereby occupying a role that was secondary to the boy, small though he was . But given the time in which they were composed women did play second fiddle and therefore this condescension was to be expected.
A popular sit down game we played as children was
Ikri mikri chaam chikri
Chaam kaatey Majumdar ,dheye elo damodar
Jagannath er haanri kunri, duware boshey chaal kaari
Chaal kaartey holo bela , bhaat khao shey dupur bela
Bhaatey porlo maachhi , kodal diye chaanchi ,
Kodaal holo bhonta , kha chhutorer maatha
We sat in a circle with our palms down on the floor and one person did the counting , going from finger to finger while chanting the rhyme . The finger where the rhyme ended was "out" and one had to fold up that finger .And so on it went ,till one person and one finger remained and that person won the game . There was no skill, no dexterity ,maybe a little cheating but wholly absorbing in a world where only the print media ruled supreme !