THE UNFINISHED STORY OF OUR LIFE

It has now been over two months since I first started putting my thoughts into this blog. I cannot claim to have set the internet on fire with my blogs, but I have a set of faithful admirers who appreciate and critique my meanderings, as and when needed. One of the comments that I have received is that my blogs are too lengthy and they need to be a bit concise. There may be many others who feel the same, but refrain from voicing it, for fear of hurting me. Rest assured, feedback of any kind is most welcome – after all a good writer should remain open to constructive criticism, and always learn from it. But, as I explained to these friends of mine, once I start writing it is very difficult to stop the flow of words. On any given day, there are many things that I want to say through my blog, but have to leave out some bit order to make it terser and to the point. Henceforth, in keeping with the sentiments of some devoted friends, I will try and restrict my loquaciousness and become less verbose in writing my blog.

Every year on the 14th of November, India celebrates Children’s Day. We see scores of messages between friends (children and adults) floating across social media and various messaging apps, wishing each other a Happy Children’s Day. The ones that are addressed to adults (funnily, a majority of them are) encourage the reader to rediscover the child in themselves and entreat them to remain a child forever. Every year when I read such messages I get extremely melancholic, and rue the fact that I left my childhood behind to grow up, and turn despondent about not having enjoyed my childhood – I am sure it is same with most of you. But analyzing this at a deeper level, I started wondering as to why all of us feel so wistful when we are recommended to become kids once again. Does it have something to do with the fact that children have an internal moral compass that makes them innocent by default? Or maybe is it because children spend a lot of quality time in a world of their own, something that we as adults are unable, or probably unwilling, to do? Whatever the reason, the idea of remaining a child forever seems to have a alluring hold over us grown-ups! Being father and friend to a ten-year old has taught me a lot of things about children. Growing up with an energetically curious daughter has personally been an eye-opener for me. I, for one, will always remain indebted to her for making me try and imbibe some of the inspiring qualities that children have.

One of the most endearing qualities in children is their cherubic innocence – an attribute that we pretentiously discard as we grow up, in the false hope that we will “mature” into an adult (believe me, we never do). Another appealing quality is the lack of ego in children – a characteristic that we predictably acquire on our road to growing up. This is something that we do not want to have in us, but invariably and inevitably carry around like a chip on the shoulder. Is it not strange that this very unwanted trait of ours, leads to almost all the problems plaguing our adult lives? Most children I know have self-respect in them, which most grown-ups wrongly term as stubbornness. At the ground level, there is a fine line dividing self-respect and stubbornness – ironically, as adults we blatantly cross over to the side of stubbornness and call ourselves self-respecting, while children who remain on the other side, and are termed as stubborn! I have also noticed that every child has a positive outlook towards life (unless coached otherwise by his or her parent). No matter whatever the issue they face, they never give up hope. In sharp contrast, we adults give up hope the moment we see things not going the way we want them to. Like my daughter is eternally hopeful that I will soon be buying her a MacBook, whereas I am yet to decide whether I really will. Another important facet among children is their non-conformity to religion, caste or class – something that all of us adults need to learn from. Unless parents imbibe differentiation among fellow-beings in them, children never discriminate between their friends on the basis of any of the above man-made sociological barriers. I am reminded about a thirteen-year old Muslim girl, who recently won the all-India Bhagwad Gita recitation competition. Her father says that from the time she was eight, he has been fostering a sense of religious equanimity in his daughter, by encouraging her to read the holy books of all religions. He does not want his ward to ever realize that there is any difference between Islam and other religions. He believes in everyone being a human being first and foremost and every other definition based on religion, caste and class then unthinkingly becomes inconsequential. If only we had more such fathers and daughters – the world would have been a much better and peaceful place for all of us.

Inside our hearts, the unfinished story of our childhood remains buried deep, and on every given occasion seeks to leap out and celebrate life. But the self-imposed, sociological cages that we have imprisoned ourselves in, prevent us from breaking free. We feel awkward to sing or dance in front of a crowd (unless of course when in an inebriated state), whereas a child has no such qualms. A child is always so trusting towards anyone they meet, while the pointlessly exaggerated barriers that we adults build around ourselves prevent us from placing our trust in anyone – in most cases even in people we love. So let us pledge to overcome this gaucheness and bring out the child in us to the fore, or we will be cursed to remain a grown-up all through our life!

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