My friend Ganja suggested that it might just be that someone put him there in the sea. Someone said, “Jab kisi ko milega to use lagega Jumanji hai!”. I think it’s terribly clever. Too clever to be real?
Did someone find him before me? Someone living in a village by the shore, like the little village our rented shack was in?
One morning, someone in such a village found the wooden plank washed ashore and dismissed it. Walked by, without notice and without focus. Made one with the sand, basic and without regard. Oh poor Jumanji, I dont think you were picked up by anyone but a child. Like one of those children in the village we stayed in, who loved to amuse themselves with madness of visitors. Who would climb in the trees during hide ‘n’ seek, even after dark. Who weren’t scared of the night or its creatures. Those beautiful children who would joke with me in their broken English. One of those children would have picked up Jumanji to be used in their cricket games. Maybe use it up as a stump in the day, draw on it in the nights under the yellow street lamps, make up stories about its rough edges.
The kid with a wooden plank he would sometimes talk to. The odd behaviour that would bother parents. The intriguing disgust with which the father would question his son’s sanity. The wonderful unity with which the kid’s friends would protect Jumanji. They must have called him something else. But I am sure they had a name. However basic, however direct. Names are the first step to identities. And we don’t know how to love something we can not call out some name for. Titles are so comforting to us.
So what happened? I am not sure. Maybe the father threw it back into the sea, maybe the kids innocently buried it in the sand one night to save it from the father, only to find it washed away in the high tide the next morning. Maybe the child grew tired of his father’s irritating and senseless remarks and sent the plank away on another journey, “Maybe no one will ever find him and bear the sadness that I have…”
Jumanji is a broken heart. Jumanji is the incomplete play of a child, made to submit to conformity and to become the same kind of adult we are used to. The father got what he was looking for after all.