The most sophisticated men I know – they are all child inside.
- Jim Henson
I am not a huge fan of the reality show Bigg Boss and I seem to have been following Mr Salman Khan’s advice to not watch the show even before he voiced it.
However, one lazy afternoon I found myself flipping through the TV channels and one of the frames caught my eyes. The curiosity was aroused by the dramatic wailing of one of the contestants of the reality show –Pratyusha Banerjee – who was all tears with her frowning cheeks reflecting a darker shade of pink. And I decided to linger on the particular channel to find out why she was crying. To my amazement, the reason that spilled out was that many in the show called her a “bachchi” – a child.
As we continue to evolve into an ultra-modern GenNext, calling twenty-year olds a child is thought to be criminal, insane. Given the life and times nowadays, when the fondness for ‘human’ (and not just children’s) qualities like innocence and purity continues to fade, the meaning of the word ‘child’ has degenerated into meaning ‘immature’ and ‘silly’.
In the general perception, someone who is an adolescent or elder and still called a ‘child’ by his peers, is understood to be the one with mental retardness or a lack of responsibility.
Look at anyone who gives away generous amount of smiles, laughs as if there were not a speck of worry in this world and speaks one’s heart out - and pat comes the word “kiddo” to describe such a person.
And to our budding next generation children, the word cuts to the quick. So much so that, the boys want to sport moustaches and French goatees to avoid being called girly or kiddish and the girls as small as 10 years old, know all about the latest hair cuts in vogue and the fashion trends.
The other day, one of my colleagues was narrating to me how her nephew, who had just landed into a play-school, had started behaving oddly. The kid, who used to chuckle and get extremely happy and excited at the sight of ice-creams, now just wore a serious face, rolled his eyes and asked for the cone in a straight tone devoid of any rhythm. Next day, he came from school and said, “Get me married, mom!”
The rate at which children want to enter the so-called manhood is alarming and we need to question ourselves what’s wrong with the way we are bringing up our wards. What’s so rough about the texture of environment our children are being exposed to? It’s high time we drew conclusions and acted in order to check the lightning pace of the ‘growing-up’ phenomenon.
Because, as we grow-up, we stop being astonished, we lose our curious streak, and new and fresh ideas cease to visit us. As we become the so-called adults, we get used to - used to almost everything surrounding or happening around us.
The colour of the sky or the twinkle of fireflies, cease to amaze us. We are no longer worried to get our hands upon that iridescent peacock feather and then preserve it between the pages of our best textbook. We, no more, have the time to draw invisible paintings on the canvas of ether, to survey the skies. We are no more as childish so as to waste our time thinking about fairies and djinns and genies that do not exist. We are no longer children – not even at heart. We are no longer creative, or curious or happy!
Because, we are adults now! Serious people with serious works to do - deadlines, meetings, interviews, CVs, salaries, the latest gadget, that expensive accessory, and the list of monotonous things goes on.
The things that we deem extremely significant for a so-called ‘successful’ life - the kind of lives that often witness terrible solitudes and heart ailments…
As I write this with a pained heart, the colleagues by my side are hell bent to prove me wrong. Few of them, besides continuing with their work, are also enjoying the taste of sour raw green gooseberries, triggering a sweet nostalgia of childhood.
The times, when eating gooseberries stealthily during the classes, was one of the favourite frolics we as children indulged in. Not to forget pen fights and FLAMES. Also, the game ‘Name Place Animal Things’. And who can forget I-spy and Hide and Seek? Sadly, children are now more into BlackBerry and BBM, and who is interested in FLAMES when they can directly chat with their possible would-be-dates. And Hide and Seek? The biscuit? They ask.
Alas! Gone are the days and extinct is that species of children who chased squirrels or made paper boats. We are more into Angry Birds and Candy Crush that we preserve for the travel time when we are robotically standing in the Metro or seated with a poker face at the backseat of the cab.
The real sweet divine childhood is getting shot, bullet by bullet, right into the heart, getting crushed by the weight of heavy adulthood that creeps in even before one can imagine. The child within continues to die in instalments until one day it completely ceases to exist, without leaving a trace. And along with it dies, the innocence, the clairvoyance, the artist within, the poet inside, the creative streak – everything dies!
And we proudly call ourselves successful adults and walk with our heads up and a heart down – heavy with the memories of the deceased childhood.
We never even question why all our worldly worries disappear at the mere sight of our beloved younger ones. What’s that potion clandestine in a child’s soft liquid eyes that make you forget the worst office nightmare? What is so pure about your little fairy’s smile that makes you want to sacrifice everything to retain that?
It’s the divine purity - the truth that we must retain as we grow up. We must unlearn the heavy lessons of a tactful adult life in order to kill the demon that corrupts us and murders the child within. This Children’s Day, let us pledge to discover the childhood we let go so easily in search of a successful life. Because success means happiness and it is children, who in real terms, are the merchants of happiness.
Tearful now, and all smiles the moment next,
Oh, children, you are the Almighty’s creation best!
Like snowflakes amid the scorching heat,
Like warm sunshine amidst the winter freeze,
As if a bunch of roses scattered on the green grass,
Just like the silver linings, beneath the dark clouds!
Like angels on earth, like God himself,
Like the fairies and the beautiful elves!
A world apart in this very world,
These merchants of happiness, these hearts of gold!