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Thursday, 31 January 2019

Discuss "Games at Twilight" as a short story?

The short story "Games at Twilight" is wonderful creation of Anita Desai, one of the prominent living Indian writers. Ravi, though cannot be regarded as the protagonist of the story', is at the centre. The events of the story centre around him. Though apparently the story deals with some Indian children's game, it explores the psychology of a child's world. Ravi's participation in a simple game of hide-and-seek leaves him feeling isolated and abandoned at the end of the story. It is Ravi's mentality or mental framework, which is put to light in the story.
Games at twilight as a short story

Games at Twilight as a Short Story

           
The plot of the story is quite simple. The whole plot centers around the game of hide and seek, one of the very common children's games in India. In "Games at Twilight" the writer describes the game of hide and seek by a group of children. The two key characters are Raghu and Ravi. Raghu was the seeker while Ravi was the hider. He tried to evade being caught. He hides in an old locked shed. He loses track of time, rejoining in thoughts of his victory and glory. He was sure that he would become the day's hero. He remembers, suddenly, that he had to touch the 'den' for victory. He comes out of the shed, dashes across the veranda and flings himself against the white pillar crying 'Den' . But nobody notices his sudden appearance. The other children had completely forgotten Ravi and had switched over to another game. Ravi was robbed of his victory and dreams of being a champion. He felt insulted and insignificant. It was too much for a small heart to bear. He throws himself on the grass, with a sense of defeat, sobbing bitterly. A sense of insignificance engulfed him.

But "Games at Twilight" is not a simple story of the game of hide and seek. It goes beyond the game of hide and seek and peeps into the heart of a child with a view to exploring what goes on there. It deals with child psychology. The story unfolds the inner recesses of Ravi, a child who is crazy for the taste of victory. It is a moving story of a child's mental agony on not being recognised for his achievement. All human beings like to be appreciated and complimented. This is predominant in children. When Ravi, the central figure of the story, comes out of the dark shade frantically claiming his victory, he is given a cold treatment. When the thrill of being a record breaker is denied to him, he starts crying and howling. No one is willing to acknowledge his victory. This hurts him and makes him feel cheated. At this point, the writer makes a deep study of child psychology and a child's powerful reaction when he feels cheated of his victory and honour. Ravi feels hurt when his playmates rob him of his well-earned glory and victory. Ravi feels crest fallen and his heart is heavy and sad with the disgrace of being forgotten.

Irony dominates the whole story. Irony is the incongruity between expectation achievements. In Anita Desai's "Games at Twilight" irony lurks at the very heart of the story. Ravi's painful acceptance of the reality is the bitterest of ironies. Throughout the story Ravi has dreamt of a victory he never tasted before, but in reality he is greeted with a failure he even never imagined in his wildest of dreams. It is sheer irony of fate that Ravi forgets the flow of time by being completely obsessed by the thought of being hailed as the 'Champion'. When he finally comes out of the shade, his joy tums into sorrow as he, to his utter pain and astonishment, realises how insignificant he is to the others. He frantically claims his victory, but nobody recognises it. It surprised him greatly that he was totally forgotten by his other playmates.

Irony also lies at the end of the story. In the second game the children chant a song, which is severely ironical. The song urges others to remember them even after death. But the irony of the situation is that Ravi, who is still alive, is forgotten as he went out of their sight only for the time being. The song thus presents a crude reality of the world. It only serves to heighten the frustration, agony and depression of Ravi.

The setting of the story is Indian and, therefore, there is naturally an overpowering presence of the Indian elements in the story. The atmosphere that the author creates in the story is a familiar Indian environment. There is everything Indian the way the children urge their mother to let them go out for playing and the treatment of the children by a caring and anxious mother. The game around which the plot of the story rune is Indian in character. There is everything Indian about the dark shade, gardens, the afternoon environment described skilfully in the story. The theme, the characters, the setting all have made the story a truly Indian story.

One of the most striking features of the story is that in it a child's world or psychology is explored and everything is presented through a child's point of view. The elders come in the scene, but they have hardly any role to play. In exploring a child's world the author has exploited a game, which is purely of children. Ravi's thought and his desire to defeat Raghu are all coloured by a child's dream. Coming out victorious in the game of hide and seek appears to him as highly significant and tremendously sensational. The thing might be quite trivial to a grown up man, but this is nothing trifling and petty to a child. To a child victory in a game really matters.

Anita Desai's art of characterisation in the story is quite noteworthy. She poured everything what was in her artistic story to draw her characters full length. In "Games at Twilight" she brings only a few characters and draws them carefully. She is very economic in her approach. Ravi is the only character who is fully drawn and he is at the centre of the story. His thoughts and dreams are focused with superb artistic touch. The inner recesses of a child's heart are unfolded and magnificently explored. Desai's characters are all real and we feel them as we read the story. Most of the characters in the story are flat, but they are brought to play their assigned part and everybody does so. The mother figure in the story is a familiar typical Indian mother. Anita Desai, born and brought up in India, collects materials for her story from her familiar Indian atmosphere.

The closing of the story is powerful. Ravi's inner feelings are put into light in the final paragraph of the story. His pain is further intensified by the song chanted by the children in their funeral game. But everything is overwhelmed by Ravi's terrible feeling of insignificance and his painful realisation of futility and triviality of his effort in the real world. The author records Ravi's inner feeling in the final closing paragraph of the story in the following words. "And the arc of thin arms trembled in the twilight, any the heads were bowed so sadly, and their feet tramped to that melancholy refrain so mournfully, so helplessly, that Ravi could not bear it. He would not follow them, he would not be included in this funereal game. He had wanted victory and triumph - not a funeral. But he had been forgotten, left out and he would not join them now. The ignominy of being forgotten - how could he face it? He felt his heart go heavy and ache inside him unbearably. He lay down full length on the damp grass, crushing his face into it, no longer crying, silenced by a terrible sense of his insignificance."

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