Open Page

The riddle of life

The pandemic paved the way for the homecoming of thousands of people who live far and wide across the country. I was no different; the lockdown and opportunity to work from home led me to my parents’ place in Kerala. For the first time since I started my work life, I got a considerable amount of time to soak in the experience of living at the place where I spent most of my childhood.

Certain corners of my room seemed to have remained frozen in time; the little bookshelf, my toys neatly placed in a cardboard box, some greeting cards from school days, and a few diaries. There was something that particularly caught my attention — a tiny red-coloured book of Malayalam riddles.

The book was special because it was reminiscent of a time when my parents, my grandmother and I used to sit in the veranda and ask each other riddles from this tiny book. Even before I had learned to read Malayalam, I was familiar with most of the popular Malayalam riddles. When I started going to school, my friends and I bonded over by asking each other riddles. The aha moment of hearing an answer to a mind-boggling riddle was one of the most cherished joys of childhood.

Then I grew up. While wading through the ups and downs of adult life, I did not realise that my knowledge of riddles was slipping through my fingers. Even if I knew, I wouldn’t have bothered because I believed that I had much more important things to remember.

Years passed and not until recently did I realise what a precious knowledge I was losing. The human race might have advanced at unprecedented levels but at times, something as simple and age-old as riddles are necessary to keep up the human spirit and help humanity survive depressing times like the one we are facing today. Maybe more than ever, we need to bring the old riddles back into our lives.

We have turned into a generation of humans who do not know how to spend time on activities that do not involve an electronic gadget. We are often so engrossed in our social media life that we sometimes find it difficult to look eye to eye and engage in an actual conversation. We hear parents complain that they don’t know how to keep their children engaged or support their children’s development if they don’t enrol them in a coding class. I think riddles are a simple, entertaining, and economic solution to many of these problems.

Riddles have been part of human languages for a very long time. Riddles supported generations of humans to connect and have a wholesome time. It also encouraged people to think creatively and aided the language development of children. Therefore, it’s safe to say that riddles help in the emotional and cognitive development of human beings of any age group.

The riddles that were passed on to us should never be forgotten. Remember, Oedipus saved the land of Thebes from a ferocious creature just by solving a riddle. Maybe, even we need to solve riddles to push through the bleak times we are going through.

mathewpriscilla1@gmail.com


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 4:12:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-riddle-of-life/article34797806.ece

Next Story