Say the word childhood and a smile curves up the lips automatically. When we were busy trying to figure out how to grow up, little did we realise that once we actually grew up ,there would be nothing we would miss more than being little kids again! No doubt it is the most beautiful and blessed stage of life. I have innumerable memories of my childhood that fill me with nostalgia and joy every time I think of them:
– The biggest stress was learning that algebra sum.
– The worst heartache was when a friend said ‘katti‘.
– The greatest joy lay in chocolates and candies.
– The biggest fear was of the imaginary ‘budda baba‘.
It was an amazing time when trusting people was not difficult and life wasn’t running at a pace difficult to keep up with. I remember being fond of soft romantic numbers while growing up but as soon as I did actually grow up, my favourite became songs like ‘woh kagaz ki kashti‘ and ‘koi lauta de mere‘. Ironical!
I got to experience childhood again when my darling daughter entered my life. Since then, it feels like I am reliving those days. She is the part of me that gets to be a kid again. She is also my excuse to behave like a child and get away with it. The moments I spend with her are priceless. I do realize though that the childhood she is experiencing is somewhat different from mine. The innocence, the genuineness of emotions and the flights of imagination are the same yet the overall experience of growing has changed significantly.
Children today are exposed to a lot, thanks to television and social media. This has enriched their minds to an extent but has also taken away the simple pleasures of childhood like reading comics, playing outside and having pure, undiluted fun of discovering things on their own rather ‘knowing it all’ through television and internet. I am thankful for the vast opportunities available for children today that we never had but I also wish I could make my daughter experience a few little joys of my younger days.
The one thing that I really wish she could do is experience sleeping under the star-studded sky.
As a child, my brothers and I slept on the terrace of our house many-a-times; sometimes out of choice owing to the lovely weather and sometimes out of compulsion when there was no electricity and inverters and generators were unheard of. Power outs were never a reason to fret over as we knew that it meant unfolding beds and laying mattresses under the sky. It was fun to have the entire family sleep together.
Lying on the beds, we children gazed at the stars as our father told us the names of various constellations and the stories behind them. It was a fascinating journey of imagination through tales of mother and son Bears and Big and small Dippers. Joining the stars with an imaginary line using my finger and then creating stories of Orion, the hunter and Cassiopeia, the vain queen was far more fun than watching cartoons. If any of us chanced upon a shooting star, the ecstasy went beyond measure. I was so intrigued with planets,stars and constellations that I wanted to be an astronaut one day! I remember I once carried a large torch with me and was trying to light up the dim side of the sky, wondering why it wasn’t happening. As I grew up a little, the stars made me wonder about the planet I lived in. The infinite sky made my world and its problems seem extremely tiny and I felt a sense of calm looking upwards and getting lost in the winking of the stars.
The world of stars is a world the children today do not get to experience outside their textbooks.It is not the fault of this generation. It is the fault of the times we live in. Flats, apartments and crowded skyscrapers have taken away terraces and uninterrupted views of the sky. Safety and security is now determined by the number of locks on our doors. I myself cannot think of sleeping on the terrace of my house any more. It is a different world now. There are no carefree walks down the street, no stress free loitering with friends and it is difficult to teach children the emotion of trust and yet make them beware time and again of the dangers they might confront in ‘strangers’ and ‘known’ alike.
I wish I could gift my daughter the carelessness and fearlessness of my childhood….
I wish my daughter could sleep under the open sky and gaze at the lights that twinkle in the sky at night without any fear of some danger lurking in the darkness!
Author’s note: This post has been written for #BachpanWithFlinto blogger contest.
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