Tag Archives: child

Our own Frankenstein Monster

Everyone is baying for his blood. Yes, me too. We want that 17 year old rapist to meet an end he deserves. Cut off his penis first and then hang him. What’s the point of giving him a life term and wasting tax payers money on him?  So yeah. Let’s just finish him off and get on with our lives – feeling safer than we were before – at least one man less to worry about in this world.

But ever wondered how a 17 year old could be so cold blooded and cruel?

Let’s look at the life of this child. He was born and raised in poverty. He left home at the age of 11 – which means by then he had already seen enough grief and problems in life to want to go in search of something better. I guess anything felt better than the life he was leading. Off he went with a bunch of village kids to the greener pastures of Delhi. There he lived doing odd jobs. Initially he even sent money home – which means he must have been a compassionate child at some point?

Then society took over. We are a cruel bunch of people. First we employ children as labourers – which is legally and morally unacceptable. Then, when we know that they have no one to protect them, we unleash cruelty on them! They don’t eat or sleep well and are forced to work long hours. How will such children learn to be compassionate towards others? I shudder to think what horrors that child might have experienced as a 11 year old. Was he beaten up, raped, sodomized? Was he bullied and beaten – until he learnt to be a bully himself? Were we cold and heartless towards him – so he became a reflection of what we are? Because I firmly believe that all children are innocent – it’s society and circumstances that corrupt them.

We are all collectively responsible for the act of this 17 year old and thousands of delinquents like him. Because we did not have it in us to show them a little love and compassion.

Now we are screaming ourselves hoarse asking for justice, when our own actions towards street children is questionable. Where does one begin the change?

But for now we must, sadly, eliminate this Frankenstein that we have created. For he has become unfit to live amongst us. We fear him and the cruelty he is capable of. Something, I fear, we have taught him ourselves.

Goodbye patty, child, woman…

Born in October 1913 was this lady with an incredibly sharp brain and an uncanny ability to get things done her way. She lived to be almost 100 and lived life to her fullest – entirely on her terms. Blessed with 5 loving sons and with equally caring daughters-in-law she was much loved and looked after right until the moment she chose to let go of life at close to 99.

Her greatest feature was her amazingly sharp memory. At 99 she could fluently recall names, where she had last met people, their entire family history and so on! Though she would mostly stay confined to her room, she was well aware of what was going on in the house. If someone was late for lunch she would fret over it. Or if someone in the family did not come back home until late night (well past her bedtime) she would somehow be aware of it and chide them the next morning. She had the guileless heart of a baby, the enthusiasm of a 10-year old and an incredible zest for everything in life! She insisted on being given chocolates on birthdays. She loved, demanded and enjoyed good food. Her priority in life was to have all meals on time. In retrospect, that perhaps was the secret of her good, healthy, long life. She did not suffer from any complicated emotions like anger or jealousy or envy. Amazingly content with life, all she expected was her meals on time, regular visits from all the people in her family…and that’s it. And I guess it is because she expected so incredibly little out of life, that she lived to the glorious age of 99.

True to her childlike self, she expected things to happen as fast as her sharp mind could think of them. If she was going somewhere in the evening, she’d be ready in the morning itself and wait impatiently for the evening to arrive! God forbid, if she was ready and for some reason we were unable to leave at the appointed time, she would pace up and down like an edgy child. She would never scold or make any rude remarks, but she would keep gazing at us like a tolerant puppy waiting to be let out, until we ran out of patience and shoved aside all other things and attended to her needs.

She always greeted any visitors with childlike enthusiasm and loved it if they got her gifts. What’s more, she was blessed with sons who pampered her with little gifts of sweets or fruits every other day.

This amazing child-woman, passed away peacefully on March 25th 2012. And just as she might have wanted, her death was cremation was quick and smooth. She was ready to leave her body and she had to do it NOW. As it was in life, in death too, she got her wish.

She is now our guiding star. We hope that she will give us the courage to live life her way – without any negative thoughts or emotions. We hope that she will inspire us to lead simple, guileless, contented lives with minimal, simple wants. We hope that she will continue to shower us with her blessings in her happy, hand-clapping, childlike way.

Dearest patty a thousand namaskarams to you. May your soul rest in peace.

 

I’ll try to believe you exist

My recent family vacation to Rajasthan was fantastic beyond words. We saw some spectacular places, met some truly amazing people, had some incredible experiences, ate some fabulous food, did some sensible shopping…

But of all these colourful experiences, one moment and one smile remains etched in my mind.

We were in Jodhpur, the lovely, royal, Blue city. The majestic Mehrangarh Fort towers above the city. Outside the old fort city, the new avatar of Jodhpur is a bustling, modern town where Mc Donalds jostles for space with Rajput Mishthan Bhandar. And Gucci shoe showroom exists alongside the traditional morjari store. So while Jodhpur sorts out its confused state, it remains a charming little place with reasonably friendly people – who are not yet totally commercialized.

One fine evening, we walked past the narrow gullies of the market where everything from homemade Vaseline to bales of bandhini saris were available. It was a fascinating walk and at the end of it we landed up nice and hungry at the doors of Jodhpur’s most famous Samosa wala’s kiosk.

While we waited for a fresh batch of samosas to get fried, we watched as scores of street children walked around pillaging dust bins, picking out the kind of garbage they needed and then shoving that into their sack. I felt that I could not eat after seeing these grubby little children with their sad, hungry eyes. But no one, seemed affected by the sight of these children, as they gleefully grabbed their hot samosas. Having lost my appetite I nibbled at mine. In the meanwhile, a set of people, finished eating, got into their car and were reversing out. Just behind their car, was this frail little girl, oblivious to the fact that the car was trying to move. I realized that the person behind the wheel may not be able to see the girl in his rear mirror as she was too tiny. So I rushed to the girl and gently pushed away and told her to move as the car my hit her. The little girl looked at me with doe-like startled eyes. For a few seconds she stared at me and then she gave me this most remarkable smile. A smile that simply lit up her whole being. A smile that said ‘thank you for acknowledging my existence’. And then she disappeared into the darkening dusk.

That smile stays with me as my most precious memory.

I realized in that one moment that this is all it takes. A kind word. A thoughtful gesture. An acknowledgement of existence. And you get rewarded with a smile that touches your soul. How difficult can that be? And yet it is.

That smile also made me realize why it is that I enjoy being with children. They are guileless, pure, innocent and trusting. Give them love. And they are so happy. That’s it.

But what do we do? We are so selfish and busy doing our own things, we buy our children things and fancy toys to keep them happy. In the bargain we systematically destroy all their endearing qualities. We transform them into selfish, callous beings who are capable of eating hot food in front of hungry street kids, and look through them like they don’t exist.

Sigh.

It’s not another holday. It’s Republic Day!

I remember a time when all cinema halls used to play the National Anthem at the beginning of a movie. There is something about listening to the National Anthem in that atmosphere. It does something that’s hard to explain. You never get the same feeling when you listen to it blaring on the television at home. But when you listen to it in a hall filled with a hundred odd, chattering strangers, the effect is magical. For a moment the audience is collectively startled. Then everybody quickly dispenses with their boxes of popcorn or whatever and stands up. Eventually everyone in the hall is standing. And suddenly there is a certain vibration in that place. A sense of togetherness. We are really not strangers. We belong. We are an entity. We are Indians. That surge of pride sweeps through the hall as the National Anthem plays its inspiring notes. And then we all sit, somehow humbled by the experience. It really is an amazing feeling.

Tomorrow is Republic Day. Sadly, all it means for kids today is one day off school. Forget cinema halls, it appalls me that even schools no longer hoist the Indian flag on this day. This morning I was explaining to my daughter as to why this day is so important for India. It’s incredible how hard it is to explain this to a child who has grown up in complete freedom. So what is there, she asks, to feel proud about being the largest democratic country in the world? Hmmmmmmm…!

But, as I got her ready for school this morning, I told her that our hope lies in her generation of children. We hope we can create leaders that our country desperately needs. This video keeps my hopes alive. And for a dose of patriotism our country desperately needs, watch this too. Jai Hind.

G for genius?

I would rather its G for Girly. G for Giggle. G for Grumble. G for Good. But not Genius. It seems these days everyone wants Einstein’s for kids. They don’t want kids any more. By the time the child is three – they are packed off to various classes including chess, dance, skating, music, dance…. Oh did I forget drawing, painting, abacus, mental arithmetic, spelling, handwriting.

Gone are the days when kids could run around in knickers, dig into sand, chase butterflies and so on! These days they are so adult well before their time.

When I was doing the round of playschools for my daughter – I was appalled at the number of schools which assured me that my child would be writing by the end of one year. Playschool – I ask you! The child is barely 3 at that time. But its amazing how many parents are impressed by the credentials of such schools. They gleefully dump their kids into these torture chambers where they are made to read and write at an age when they should be drooling and doodling!

I once attended a seminar by some organization that claimed to develop the right brain of the child (Or was it left brain? I forget!). They had video footage of six month old babies who could recognize alphabets and colours and even add up numbers. While I yawned through it, other parents watched with their jaws open. At the end of the presentation I rushed out to preserve my sanity – while other parents made a beeline to buy the CD which cost no less than 25000 Rs!

I fail to understand the logic of why the child must learn something ahead of time. How does it matter if the child writes by three? He or she will only actually need to use his/her writing skills in UKG. So what’s the whole point? And why is it so critical that the child must recognize alphabets and numbers at 6 months? They will eventually do so right? Why not let them observe and learn at their own pace. In fact, the geniuses we exalt today were all left alone to observe and learn at their own pace! Surely the Einstein’s and the Ramanujams were not forced to read, write, count and draw before their age and mental make up demanded it.

So are we creating a generation of geniuses or are we creating minds that mature and consequently rot before their time? I suspect so. We can expect a lot more intelligent criminals to surface in the society. A lot more kids who do not fit into the mould. A lot more frustration at a lack of purpose and direction in life.

I feel sorry for parents who feel compelled to send their children to this class and that. Yes children adapt. Yes they learn. And then what? Are they ready to raise these geniuses? I think not.

I for one am happy to let my child laze around and do things at her pace. Smell the roses, catch the butterflies, watch the snails, believe that there’s tons of cheese on the moon, decide that 1 + 1 becomes 11 chocolates…

Well…you get the drift. Not many parents would agree with me. For they are pressurized by their peers and they do not want their child to be left behind. I hope I maintain my resolve. At the moment things are pretty normal and I’m G for so so so so Glad! :)