The Almighty Allah has granted children with unique attributes. One of these is the infinite capacity to ask questions and not relenting until their curiosity is fully satisfied. As a grandfather, I find that being at the answering end of this interrogative barrage has definite advantages. It has instilled an unflagging tolerance and taught me to look at things in the most simplistic of manner.The other day, while driving past the Fatima Jinnah Park in Islamabad, my five-year old saw three trucks carrying horses parked on one side of the road. The transport and its equine cargo belonged to one of the teams participating in the National Tent Pegging event organised by the CDA. I was first asked as to why animals that were supposed to be ridden being given a ride in the truck. I said that these horses had come from afar and since they would be entering the tent pegging competition, they needed all the rest they could get. Then followed a long line of questioning that ended with the father of all queries regarding the game, where a lance bearing rider impales and then pulls out a tent peg from the ground at full gallop.Not fully aware of the history behind this game, I quickly began inputting fragments of data from all parts of my brain and came up with what I thought was a plausible answer. In fact, I consider my answer so plausible that I cannot resist sharing it with my readers.There was a time, when sides opposed to one another used to set up camps consisting of tents and shelters. These camps were populated not only by armed fighting men, but women and children (often referred to as camp followers). When these sites were attacked, hostile cavalry armed with lances and spears, galloped through the rows of tents uprooting their pegs, so that much of the opposition was trapped under the collapsed structures. Other bodies of men followed the cavalry and dispatched the poor victims in a fashion prevalent at the time. This tent pegging mental exercise set me thinking about other sporting events and the stories that lay behind their origin.When ancient armies confronted one another, the normal practice was to call out their champions in single combat. The famous tale of Rustam and Sohrab is an illustration of this tradition. These champions were usually men trained in martial arts and wrestling. They were strong athletes, who excelled in field events like throwing the javelin and ‘putting the shot’. And last but not the least, they had dexterity in the use of close combat weapons. It is, perhaps, these skills of war and the fitness required to perform them that ancient Greeks decided to invent the Olympic Games.Chess is supposed to be a game of kings, where opponents pitch their minds in moves and countermoves to attrite the other side and create a situation, where the opponent has no option, but to capitulate and admit defeat. Replace the chessboard with an ancient sand model and the chessmen with miniature cavalry, men at arms and artillery pieces, and what one sees is a battlefield with generals moving their armies to outmanoeuvre each other.This brings me back to my grandchildren. Yesterday, my granddaughter aged seven was watching a clip from a Second World War movie on television with an apprehensive granddad sitting next to her, hoping that no questions would follow. As the noise of exploding bombs subsided, the little girl turned to me with the words: “You remember, we always play Snakes and Ladders when it rains. Why can’t people settle their disputes by playing a game of Snakes and Ladders, instead of bombing and killing one another?” I just looked at the child in a state of amazed dumbness, not knowing what to say to her.

The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.