Rendezvous With the Forgotten Child

Last summer, the girls and I were in Mumbai for a two month long vacation. Such a relaxed time it was.

The girls were away from their dad for so long for the first time and naturally they were missing him a lot. This was the time when I started telling them about their father’s favourites — his favourite book, favouite movie, food etc. Later I made a video of both of them reciting their dad’s favourite things. I sent that video to my husband on Father’s day. Needless to say, he adored his 2.5 year old toddlers talking about his favourite stuff.

Since then their favourite game is playing “What is your favourite?” We play it often. I ask them about their favourite stuff and they tell me one by one. As the girls have grown and become smarter, they now try to give unique answers every time.

“Hey, you can’t have your favourites changing every day” I tell them.

“Who said it has to be the same?” pat comes the reply and leaves me speechless.

Today, they decided to reverse the role in the game. This time I was the one who had to answer their “what’s your favourite” queries. Boy they enjoyed it! And as it happens after most hyperactivity episodes, they dozed off.

When the kids are awake I feel they are not letting finish my other chores. There are always a hundred other things on my mind that need to be finished while kids keep me engaged but the moment they sleep I suddenly feel lost and puzzled that what should I do now. Tonight, after they had slept, I was scanning my phone found myself searching for the video “Ek Chiriya, Anek Chiriya.” It probably came onto my thought screen because earlier in the day I had told Dhvani that it was my favourite song.

The song teleported me back to my childhood. As a kid, “Ek Chiriya” was my absolute favourite. I would jump on my seat every time Doordarshan aired that song. During those days, TV used to be such a wholesome entertainment for kids. Sundays were super special with favourite shows lined up for the whole day. Like all kids, I was glued to the TV watching everything — Chandrakanta, Talespin, Duck Tales, Mahabharat, Ramayana, and many more. The half-hour slots for Chitrahaar on Wednesdays and Fridays were equally exciting. And then how can I forget the most intriguing “whodunnit” drama — Byomkesh Bakshi. Pure nail-biting stuff.

It would be a crime to not mention the Saturday-Sunday evening movie slots on the TV. And as I write this, the old memories are unlocking and reminding me — Alice in Wonderland, Tom and Jerry, Sindbad, and The Jungle Book (Mowgli) were few of my other favourites.

As for outdoor games, I was out in the sun playing games like Hide and Seek, which colour you want, Vish Amrit, Pithoo, Oonch Neech, and Poshampa. The only indoor activity that I enjoyed was the “Gudia ki Shaadi” game. Exploring the world outside the home was a daily part of life then.

Spending time with cousins was the ideal vacation. All of us would gather either at paternal or maternal grandma’s house. That was our definition of having the time of our lives. How I remember sleeping on the mats on the floor in a row under the open sky in the Aangan and playing Antakshari inside the mosquito nets. Throwing stones at the Mango Trees near my grandma’s house and searching for the fallen Ambia every morning — that was my favourite summer pastime. I remember hiding in a corner with my loot of Ambia and relishing it with salt.

When the cousins get together was over, the summer afternoons were spent reading a variety of comics. Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki, Nagaraj, Super Commando Dhruv, Baankelal, Hawaldaar Bahadur were some of super favourites. As I grew up, the comics gave way to Nancy Drew, Hardy boys, Sydney Sheldon, and Nicholas Sparks.

Comics was a big part of train journeys. On every station, I would eagerly look for comic vendors. If not a comic, I would pester my Dad to at least get me a Nandan or a Champak. Those were the only books I owned. I remember getting the rest of the comic books on rent during summer holidays. Cheap rents offered by local mom and pop libraries allowed me read a lot of books.

My Milton bottle, the only Yashika camera in the house, the endless collection of cassettes and a Walkman, white pilot pen, the Natraj geometry box, the white Bata Shoe (that almost every friend had) were the most prized possessions.

Playing FLAMES was the criteria to decide whether someone deserved your friendship, love, affection, enmity or sisterhood. After school, nothing was more refreshing than the glass of Roohafza. Birthdays were exciting for two reasons — getting to wear the nicest outfit in the school that day and distributing candies to everyone. Even the power cuts were exciting as we were exempted from the homework and no one objected on our choice to go outside and play in the dark.

Today, as I sit back and let myself dwell in nostalgia, I am glad that my childhood was untouched by technology and the weird trends. It gave me a chance to live and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Each one of us for sure has had a cherished time.

This walk down the memory lane got me thinking — how important it is to keep the child in you alive and how easily we forget to parent the one within us?

In the hustle bustle of life, trying to strike a perfect balance and playing the roles and responsibilities to the best, we tend to forget the child within us. We start paying too much attention to pieces of advice and etiquettes and we stop taking pleasures in the little things that life has to offer. Being a part of the Rat race we rarely laugh heartily and we start associating life’s pleasures only to the materialistic things. We get so engrossed in conforming to a certain way of living in the society that there’s in no time for feeding our soul.

You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, observed a wiseman, “you grow old because you stop laughing.” So it is never late to remind ourselves that the child within us also needs superb parenting as do our kids. Any child needs love and nurturing to bring peace and joy in his or her life.

But how do you do that?

We just need to liberate ourselves from any form of control, shackles of criticism and opinions. We need to stop worrying about what others will think of us. We need to keep the inner spark alive by doing what we want to, without worrying about what other people would say. As they say, those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’ t matter.

Let this child break free and indulge in innocent fun. Watch how rejuvenating it feels. You’ll be amazed how quickly the prejudices of the mind start dissolving. It won’t get you rid of your problems, your hectic schedules, your endless commitments, but it will definitely give you a bigger and a better perspective. You will stop sweating over small stuff.

So let loose, and get yourself engaged in some childlike activity. Allow me to offer few suggestions —

1. How about watching your favourite cartoon from your childhood today?

2. How about getting soaked in colours and playing water balloons this Holi? It’s just around the corner.

3. How about making paper boats this monsoon and getting wet in the first rain?

Do you see what I am getting at?

How about playing “what’s your favourite” game with the child inside you? The child you have forgotten.

I’ll leave you with this — “In your soul, you are still that small child who did not care about anything else but the beautiful colours of the rainbow.”