Nazmuz Shakib Pranta
Ludu, a game of luck and strategy, which are both unpredictable at times. It’s game of intensity in the minds and small thrills that eventually leads to a tragic loss or even a win. Although it is simply just a board game as many may think, to me, it’s game that I can’t cheat on even if I want to. Now, it is really annoying and frustrating as well when you realize your luck is not with you. Nevertheless, Ludu is one of those things that I grew up with. Ludu turns my boring weekends into historic board game moments and sometimes even moments that I want to regret for life. As serious, aggressive and exaggerated as I may sound, I am not too far away from seriousness. Let me explain…
Ludu (or Parcheesi as commonly known in the western world) is designed as a four player individual game, where each one tries to logically and strategically beat their opponent. As already depicted, Ludu boards are quite colorful as any other board games, but surprisingly there isn’t a specific gender assignment for the game. Well, at least not in my mindset. However, the colors are interestingly very specific around the world, which are red, green, yellow and blue. Ludu is a game for everyone though, especially those who enjoys betting their luck with another’s. Just to let you know the basics structure of the game, Ludo is a board game consisting of four individuals with four tokens each. Each individual’s goal is to move their tokens around the board according to outcome of rolling a die and eventually come back home without getting eaten by another’s token, which by the way is very unlikely. It’s quite difficult to get a grasp of the game at first, considering it requires both luck and strategy, which is why it takes an experienced individual to play the game. Not to brag around myself, but I think I am quite experienced. I have been around and involved in Ludu since I was five or so, but I wasn’t a player. I was a watcher.
I grew up in a tiny village as a little boy, where everyone was close to each other and shared similar interests in various aspects. And, entertainment wasn’t an exception. In addition to cricket and soccer, which was a more masculine sport according to custom. Ludu wasn’t so popular around the boys or men. It was thought to be a girl’s game, not because it was Ludu, but because it was a board game. Culturally, I was born to think of it that way. Perhaps, this is why I was more of a watcher than a player and surprisingly I enjoyed it too, at least at that time.
I remember my mother was really active, obviously considering she was a woman. In fact, she even used to bet money playing the game, in which by the way, the games can get really intense at times. I specifically remember one night when my mother was playing Ludo with my aunt and the victory was shifting back and forth between them. I still can’t believe I stayed up until three that night whereas I didn’t even used to last until eleven o’clock. I couldn’t close my eyes in any of the games. I was on my mom’s side though because I didn’t want her to lose money. There was a different feeling watching the game and as anxious as the player suppose to be, as a young audience, I was quite worrisome. Even back then as a little boy, I took the game seriously, but never had the opportunity to fully enjoy the competitive thrill that it poured. I was always a watcher then.
Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing obtrusive with playing Ludu as a boy, but I just didn’t have the chance to feel the game as a player against an experienced opponent. I knew the game was competitive and tactical, but honestly, I thought I would never win, ever. Although soon after I did figure that that was true, but even as a player, Ludu never felt fully different. The same level of intensity and nervousness was in the game.
I had to encounter Ludu as a player after coming to the United States, when I became a little older. Just a summer ago, I had the opportunity to gather a group of close friends, who are also Bangladeshi to replay the moment of my childhood. But, this time as a player, not a watcher. When I first began, I had very expectations, considering the time I have spent just learning the game and moves that are needed to strategically made.
I figured soon afterward that I wasn’t going to win and neither was I even close to being best individual player. Despite that however, I honestly had a reminder to those old days when Ludo was exhilarating even as a boy. The same looks, reaction and even the strategies was floating on the air as the game was leaning away from my victory. Yet, that was still refreshing inside as if I found that old lifestyle that I can relive once again.
Now, that I realize the effect of Ludu in my childhood and after my transformation into a young adult, that young mindset is still inside me and I have a proof of that as well. I didn’t just remind those old memories for one day, I played Ludo almost the whole summer, never had I thought to quit this game as it is now culturally transplanted in me. Ludo was, is and will be memory to hold forever. Ludu forever!
Nazmuz Shakib Pranta, a writer originally from a small South Asian country, Bangladesh. He moved to the United States about seven years ago and now attends at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a first-year student. Shakib generally loves writing in flashback in order to relive his memories of childhood and share the cherishing nature of beauty of his home country. Even after being in the United States for a while now, he is still passionate and almost always wants to be connected and involved with his cultural customes and celebrations. On his spare time, he enjoys playing cricket and Ludu with his “desi” (South Asian) friends although he admits, he is definitely not proficient with either of them. After college, Shakib dreams on becoming a software engineer as he continues to devote his studies in Computer Science.