The short story "Games at Twilight" by Anita Desai tells of a group of Indian children who pester their mother to let them play outside despite the lingering late afternoon heat. She finally relents, and they begin a game of hide and seek. An older, stronger boy named...
The short story "Games at Twilight" by Anita Desai tells of a group of Indian children who pester their mother to let them play outside despite the lingering late afternoon heat. She finally relents, and they begin a game of hide and seek. An older, stronger boy named Raghu becomes "it" and has to search for the other children. A smaller, younger boy named Ravi overcomes his fear of the darkness and pests such as rats, spiders, and ants, and slips into a storage shed to hide. While he waits alone in the dusty darkness, he imagines himself a hero for besting Raghu and winning the game.
Ravi remains in the shed until twilight. He comes out and runs to the safe spot on the veranda, only to find that the children have long ago abandoned the hide and seek game and have gone on to do other things without him. In fact, they have forgotten about him completely. His daydreams about heroically winning the game have come to nothing. In his chagrin he refuses to play with the children. Desai writes that he lies down on the grass and is "silenced by a terrible sense of his insignificance."
Desai's intention in this story is not to dramatize a trauma that will haunt Ravi for the rest of his life. Instead, she is pointing out a significant aspect of the human condition in childhood. In fact, the lessons in this story even pertain to adults. The children commence the game with great enthusiasm, and Ravi imagines that he has come up with a solution that will allow him to win the game and receive the adulation of his peers. His plan doesn't work, and as a result he feels disappointed and insignificant. If he is like most children, he will likely recover quickly from this trauma and be back playing with the children the next day or perhaps even later that evening. A clue to his ability to recover is in the courage he shows in overcoming his fears and hiding in the dark storage shed. If he has the courage to do this, he will almost certainly have the strength to recover from his disappointment.
As previously mentioned, this story works as a parable for people of all ages. Disappointments, discouragements, and feelings of insignificance happen often in life. It is important to be resilient when confronted with adversity.