Street Games Of India: Kabaddi
When I was about fourteen I graduated into the school of toughs: I was allowed to join the Kabaddi team.
To play Kabaddi you need stamina, the capacity to hold your breath, quickness and mastery of the tactics of battle. It is almost like real warfare.
A line is drawn on sand or on soft earth. The two opposing teams, five to ten or more, stand on either side of this line.
A member of one team crosses the line into the opposing camp, chanting the magic word ‘Kabaddi, Kabaddi, Kabaddi’, without breathing. If he is able to touch one or two boys while still uttering the word ‘Kabaddi’, the person touched is ‘dead’ and the visitor runs back to his side.
Then another member from his team goes out. But it may happen that the visitor is caught on the opposite side by the fellow who is touched, or by someone else from the opposing team. Then he is said to have ‘died’.
Now a member from the other side goes out to visit the first team. A team has to ‘kill’ all the members of the opposing team to win the game.
I was too frail to survive long without being ‘killed’. But I learnt to hold my breath, and developed some daring. I also suffered many blows from those whom I had offended outside the Kabaddi field. They used the cover of this game to settle old scores.