We played many games and some of these games were seasonal and some throughout the year as and when we liked it. The games we played were very much confined to our age limit as well as the number of players. We began playing games as early as four years old and it was nothing other than running here and there. It was only after we reached the age of six or seven that we began to play games that made some sense. We never had toys and so we made our own toys and there were varieties of them. To make these toys we used some natural resources and from used items and we kept improving them. We would look for suitable tree branches to make catapults and for our swords, the straight long bamboos were the most ideal. Even some parts of the coconut leaves became our toys and the ‘upih pinang’ became our mobile ‘ferry’ but we still need to pull it. Then we would run around the house for few rounds and compete with each other until the final round to determine the winner. Some unused items too became parts of these toys such as worn and unused tyres, rubber bands, empty cigarette boxes and even the metal caps of bottles as well as the corks. We did not used bottles to make our toys as these bottles could be sold for some cash.
In this article I would like to share with you the toys we made and the games we played during the period between 1954 to 1961, because by 1961 I was twelve years old and was already playing with my guitar. Once in a while I would still play some of these games with my younger cousins, such as ‘main galah’, ‘chaptay’ and ‘gasing’.
KOK NAI (POLICE AND THEIVES)
We need quite a number of players for this game and so many of my younger cousins were roped in. I would cycle to my uncle’s house in Jalan Khalidi and invite the three brothers (my cousins) Tamal, Zainol, Razip to come over leaving little Halim crying. Halim joined in the group later when he was old enough to mix with us.
This game is very similar to the game of ‘Police and Theives’. It will be ideal if we can have ten people playing the game with each side having five people, so five police and five theives. We are not allowed to choose our own team, and to determine who will be playing with the same team there will be something like ‘draw lots’. All the ten players will form a circle with their right hands behind their backs and everyone will shout…”Ooooooopek”. When the ‘opek’ stopped everyone will have their hands shown either their palms or the back of their palms. If the number of those showing their palms are more than five people, say seven people, then two will be removed and join those showing the back of their palms. Each team will choose a leader.
The two leaders will again ‘draw lots’ to determine which group will be the police first. Both will once again place their right hand at the back and began by saying….”Ooooooosom”. At the end of ‘som’ they will show their palms but this time with a sign using the palm. The signs are water (normal flat palm), a bird (grip the palm with all the fingers pointed outward) and a stone (a grip of the palm). Water will defeat the stone, the stone will defeat the bird and the the bird will defeat the water. Supposing the leader shows a water sign with the opponent showing the stone sign, then the one with water sign wins and will begin first.
The game will begin immediately with the ‘police’ chasing the ‘thieves’. To catch a thief is not easy. We need to catch hold of the body, so normally two or three persons will catch a thief at a time. Once caught, the thief will be kept inside a drawn boundary to be guarded by one or two ‘guards’. And so it goes on until the final thief is caught. However, the thieves can be saved by their gangs still on the loose by a mere touch. When all the thieves are caught, then the next ‘gang’ will take over the role of thieves.
SOROK SOROK (HIDE AND SEEK)
To begin the game, the application of ‘opek’ and ‘osom’ will likewise be used. The last person who looses the ‘osom’ will be the one to seek those in hiding. Before the rest go into hiding, the loser must close his face facing a wall or at the trunk of a tree. The rest will go into hiding and they will hide in various places, like behind a bush, under the staircase, under the bed and any other places one thinks that it is difficult to find.
Once I was hiding under our house’s front staircase. While squatting quietly, suddenly a small lizard appeared and it looked like coming to me. I had no choice but to come out from the staircase and quietly I began looking for a new site without being detected. I just could not stand lizards.
This game will be played by two groups as well. Before the game, we need to draw eight big squares on the ground. As we normally play on the grass, we use charcoal (arang) to draw and sometimes we use black chalks. In the absence of these two, we normally place our shoes at every boundary points as markers.
The objective of the game is to reach the last square and return to the starting point. Each member must do the same. Each square will be guarded by an opponent who will prevent you from going to the next square. The leader of the opponent will guard at the center line. If any of your opponent managed to touch any one of you, then the game is over and your group will take over the role of opponents guarding the squares.
This game will be played by few individuals. Like the game of ‘galah’, we need to draw some squares as well except the design is that of a ‘t’. Each player must move from one square to the next with only one leg. When you jump to the next square, you can use your two legs but the moment you step on the square, you must lift one leg. If you managed to complete one round, the you can proceed to round two. In round two, you have to skip one square to the next and complete the whole round and in round three, you have to skip two squares and so on.
This game we need a toy product called ‘Chaptay’. It is made of few chicken feathers, a nail, used tyre tubes and some rubber bands.
First, we need to cut the used tyre tubes into a round shape slightly bigger than the old fifty cents coin. Have them cut to five or six pieces. Then poke a nail at the center of these round rubber and place the features at the pole of the nail. Tie these features as tight as you can with rubber bands and you have yourself a ‘chaptay’.
We can play few games using the ‘chaptay’. We can play the ‘chaptay’ like playing the ‘sepak raga’ (takraw), we can play by forming groups and create few other games by using it. It is a very interesting self-made product.
LUMBA PERAHU (BOAT RACE)
There is no boat involved, we use the ‘upih pinang’ as the boat. The race will begin with one passenger sitting on the ‘upih pinang’ and the other one pulling the leaves. The puller will run to the finishing point. In all cases, the one sitting must not be too heavy and the one pulling the ‘upih pinang’ must be strong.
This game is seasonal. The marbles are sold in the sundry shops costing five cents for two pieces. The good ones are sold at five cent per piece and the really good ones at ten cent per piece.
To play the marble, we must use our index finger and our thumb as the base. The marble will be placed at the index finger and release the marble at a force. Some will use both the index and the middle fingers to provide a better focus and able to shoot straight.
To play the game of marble, we must dig a small hole slightly bigger than the marble itself. Then about twelve feet away, we will draw a line and this line is the starting point. The players will throw their respective marbles toward the hole, the one that reaches the hole nearest will begin first followed by the next nearest. The first player will start hitting all the marbles away from the starting line. However, he is entitled to hit only for three times and the next player will takes his turn.
The players whose marble have been shot away from the hole, will try to throw their marbles back toward the hole. Once landed, if the marble is within the stretch of one’s thumb, he will become the next player and this time he will have his revenge and try to hit his opponent’s marble as far away as possible.
GASING (TOP SPINNING)
This game is also seasonal. Like the marbles, the tops are sold at the sundry shops. The price is slight higher at thirty cents per piece, including its lace.
To begin the game, all the players will let loose their tops to spin. The first top that stops spinning is the loser and the top that can last is the winner. The loser will then spin his top to let the second loser hit his top with his own. Sometime due to a powerful force, the top can be broken into two.
LAYANG LAYANG (KITES)
This is another seasonal game and although the kites are sold at the sundry shops, sometime we made our own kites. However, making kites is a tedious job and in most cases we buy them. We need a big compound to play kites and during the windy days. During my time, we would go to the football field of the Police barracks across the road. The neighbours too would join with their colourful kites.
Chepey is made from the tin cover of most bottles. It is flattened by knocking it with a hammer. We make as many chepeys as we can and keep them as our collection. Sometimes these chepeys is used to trade for other products.
These are some of the games we played. We were very creative in our thinking and every toy we made, we kept improving it. There were some other games which were very rough and could even hurt greatly. There was a ‘pop-gun’ made from young bamboos. These bamboos would be cut in various sizes about two to three feet long. These became the barrels. Then we would make a rod carved with bamboo strips. For the bullets, we used papers crumbled to small pieces that could enter inside the barrel. To shoot, we would push the rod and the small crumbled papers would be released. Sometime we used cherry fruits as bullets.
Insects too became our ‘toys’. There was a spider fighting game. We would go to the nearby bushes to look for spiders lurking between the leaves. These spiders would be kept inside an empty match boxes. When the competition began, the owners of these spiders would release them and the spiders would begin fighting each other. We would even look for small fishes as small as ‘ikan bilis’ at the big muddy drain behind our house.
To make our catapults, we would go looking for suitable tree branches and would climb the trees with a parang. These catapults were used to shoot at birds which we always missed. Sometime we used these catapults to shoot at ripe mango fruits which were too high to pluck.
Old newspapers too were used to make ourselves boats, balls and we could create many other ‘products’ like birds, elephants and rabbits. Sometime we made cowboy caps when we played ‘Cowboys and Red Indians’. For the ‘Red Indians’, we used chicken feathers tied with rubber bands around the head.
Discarded cigarette boxes too became our ‘toys’. We would collect as many as we could. Those days we had brands like ‘Rough Rider’, ‘Caraven A’, 555, ‘Consulate’ and few others. We would line up these boxes and shoot them with rubber bands.
Those were the days when we made our own toys. We were very creative and we kept on inventing new toys. We had no choice because we did not have television and we had no money to buy real toys but nevertheless we never felt boring, not the very least. How wonderful life was then.