|This is the picture of modern day top!|
The name 'top' refers to various objects, but the one I am taking about is the children's plaything that can be tied to a string and thrown on the floor such that it spins for a while – the longer it spins, the better.
Yesterday, I had been to the wholesalers' marketplace in the town with my elder cousin to purchase inventories, goods for resale, for his all in one grocery store. The tops I found there were manufactured in a factory perhaps and had beautiful circular curves carved beautifully in the wooden structure. I took out one piece and tried it on the floor with my bare hands which reminded me of my own childhood when one of the other cousins of mine had made me a top out of a branch of rhododendron trees.
I was born in a very remote village of Narethanti VDC in Baglung district. There were only a few houses nearby my house - 3 as far as I can remember. And the nearest one was perhaps more than 150 meters away. The water tap, which was shared among the three houses of my village, was also about the same distance far. However, a forest was nearer and we had to walk by its edge to reach our nearest neighbors'.
On the house of my nearest neighbor, who was also a relative, lived one of my cousins, Krishna or Ramu, whom I don't remember well now. He used to attend school down in the basin ('beshi' in Nepali) which was as far as one hour distance to go on foot.). His original house was about 45 minutes away up in the hill, known as lekha, and he had shifted to our neighborhood to curb the distance to his school or high school which I again remember hardly because I had not been even admitted to a primary school and I must have been barely 5 years old then.
This cousin of mine was very skilled at making tops and playing them that I used to get very much amazed at his great ability. He was also quite good at making other playthings which would entice none but children and we used to be quite fond of him.
Once, I remember only one incident, I insisted him to make a small beautiful top for me. He was a good old cousin and he happened to listen to me on that particular insistence or incident. And I too happened to remember this incident quite vividly despite my small age.
Accordingly, he went to the forest, not farther than 50 meters away; cut down a small rhododendron tree; brought it to the 'aagan', a small yard in front of a house for the children to play; and then started cutting the thick hard part of the twig. He knew very well that the twig should be big, thick and sufficiently hard to make a good top. However, for this particular top he had chosen a smaller twig since I was a child.
Within about 20 minutes (just my guess) the top was ready in shape, smoothed as allowed by the free hands and the sickle, a type of wedge used for cutting twigs, grasses, and fodder. Now, I needed a string to play it but my cousin could play it with his free hands as well for its size. I got a string.
|This is the picture of the top that my cousin made for me. |
I drew this from my memory!
Although my cousin handed a 'ready-to-play' top to me his job wasn’t over yet. Since I had never played a top before he had to teach me how to play it. I don’t think I was too stubborn but I was a child! So, I got my cousin do a demo for me anyway with some instructions and guidance for me to be able to play the top. I, however, don’t remember whether I learnt to play it successfully that day or not and I also don’t remember what I did with the top the next day.
A few years later, after my family had migrated to another village, I tried to make my own top out of a different tree. When I tried to play it, it spun a few times. However, I never became as skilled as my cousin.