Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Lesson Learnt - Part 4

April 21,2009

It was the hottest day this summer, or so it seemed. The heat was killing me. The sun was burning my soul. It was the day we had arranged a prayer service at home, for Dad.
I stood by the door, mind of stone, watching the priest recite prayers for Dad. Every once in a while I looked over at Dad`s picture and smiled. He smiled back. Dad wasnt religious. Neither am I. I knew how amused he must be, at all the dramatics going on. More on this at a later post.
Just then, I saw a rickshaw pull up by the door and a little girl, all of four, hop off with a bottle of Pepsi in her hands. Before her mum could realize what was happening, she held it out to the rickshaw puller and said," Here. Arent you hot?"
The mother yanked her away and bent down to talk to her. She was fuming.
"Now that you`ve given your bottle away, don't come crying to me when you`re thirsty!"

I was stunned. For several reasons.
Here was a four year old teaching us one of life`s most valuable lessons.
The need to be perceptive. The need to be a little more sensitive. And yet, was being reprimanded for being 'naughty'.
I glared at the mother. You have the power to shape up your child, I thought. Go on, make a devil out of her, so she never thinks of sharing a cold drink with a tired rickshaw puller ever again.

It is true that children are more sensitive. Because children are simple. Children are not 'objective', so to say.
We as adults fight wars all around, all the time. And it has become a question of who breaks whom. It is spartan. It is all-consuming and frenzied. It is a paradox. This desperate urge to conquer. To covet. And the urge to please. To conform. To follow suit.
Children dont understand such complexities of life. They live uncomplicated ones.
We dont understand the complexities of life as well. Hence we think we live uncomplicated ones too.
But you and I know that I am not seeing uncomplicated any more. When exactly we parted ways is difficult to pin point...somewhere between my first date and getting married, I guess.
You were on the same bus,remember?
The obliviousness of the next turn of life has just become so increasingly fuzzy. For both you and me.
Is that why our minds are so blurred?
Is that why the sensitivity of our souls has simply gone up in smoke?

This particular episode brought back memories I had long forgotten.
A long, long time ago, I was standing at the door and fighting over the five extra rupees that a rickshaw puller was demanding one such hot afternoon. And Dad came out and quietly asked,"What do you propose to do with the five bucks you manage to save today?"
Lesson learnt. For Life. The value of empathy. The need to be sensitive. The need to let go of pettiness.
And as I looked backed at the picture and thought of the man who had taught me to live, I knew it was Dad. That he was around. Showing me the way yet again.

Not that I`m a fan of Mahatma Gandhi, but there`s one quote of his that makes sense to me.
"Be the change you want to see in this world."


Sunshine said...

i ao agree with that sentiment! and this is one of the reasons i just cannot bargain and rarely argue with cab drivers on the fares they quote...i keep thinking that 5 or 10 rupees will not make much of a diff to me...but it just might to them!

*sigh* of course the downside is that i do get taken for a ride also sometimes...but then again id rather help a few and get hoodwinked by a few than bargain with everyone!

mummyjaan said...

It was very odd, was it not, of that mum to reprimand her daughter when she could have praised her?

Sraboney said...

Yes, children are more sensitive and more honest than adults...They often blurt out truths in front of company which may embarrass the parents but that's because they are uncomplicated...Unfortunately, we parents teach them 'life lessons' which make them complicated as they grow up...

Unknown said...

Agreed with every word.
Children become us. I sometimes sound so much like my Mom.
OUr sensitivity has gone up in a smoke and we hide behind words like 'practical' 'comfortable' 'functional' etc etc etc

Passionate Goof said...

To be honest Piper, parenting is a lot lot more than cleaning dirty diapers and taking care of nutrition. Infact these are the much less important things of parenting. The tougher bits are being a good role model, always being alert about what we do and hence teach our child. Because what I do, is no longer just what i do, but also what my child will do. Very, and I literally mean VERY few parents understand and realise this. I know, that I myself fail miserably in patience, controlling my temper and calm.And I am seeing the bad results of that already.

A child is so innocent, he does not understand class, or creed, sex or age of humans. The SG will greet anyone who comes to our door with equal enthu, and I adore that. When he was younger, he loved to hold people's arms, and I remember he was in a crowded shop, and held the arm of the lady standing next to me. She was a poor woman, and i was not sure how she would take it, fortunately she was nice. Some people are not, and that scares me because that may teach the SG just the wrong thing about people is it not? How ever as a parent it gets embarrassing at times, when he tries to be affectionate to any random person in the park, esp the rude Arabs or their kids.

Very very well written post Piper, not only the thought, but also the style. Loved it.
(ate up too much space, sorry!)

Meghana Naidu said...

girl, you write from the heart and it goes straight to the heart

Amrita said...

What you said reached the heart and i think we should try to keep the child's innocence... I feel as we become "intelligent" we attach ulterior motives behind everything...I think sometimes we just should not analyse.

Frankly speaking I did not understand this "But you and I know that I am not seeing uncomplicated any more. When exactly we parted ways is difficult to pin point...somewhere between my first date and getting married, I guess." U meant it for the G?

Smitha said...

Agree totally.. Children, I think, are innately more sensitive and sensible than adults.. It really is up to us, to ensure that they retain their sensitivity, their empathy.. That mother should have been so proud of her little daughter, who actually thought of the rickshaw puller.

And yes, the second example.. we are all guilty of it, I am sure in some degree.. I remember bargaining with a shopkeeper of a small shop, and then realising with a shock, that I would have probably paid more at a shop in a swanky mall and not even thought of bargaining.. This shopkeeper probably needed his profits far far more.. At that point, I felt so ashamed that I stopped bargaining and paid him what he originally asked for- much to his surprise.. He must have thought I was crazy.. You are so right when you talk about - 'The need to let go of pettiness'. Loved this post.

Your Dad must have been an amazing person!

Piper .. said...

Sunshine: Yeah I know. That`s what happens with rickshaws. You pay one person a lil more, and the bar is raised. The whole lot starts asking you for more. But I was really talking about being sensitive in general. Particularly felt it at this point, where 'so called family' doesnt seem to remember what I`m going through - keeps on with weird demands in subtle forms!

mummyjaan: Absolutely! I was stunned. Parenting is not easy.But most importantly, parenting is not something you can afford to go wrong with.

Sraboney: Bingo. A child is not born with fear/hatred/bitterness/discontent..etc etc. He learns. And he learns from those he sees closest to him.

Chrysalis: yes. Precisely that. And hence life no longer remains simple enough.

Piper .. said...

Goof: Completely agree with every word. I couldnt have put the thought across better! Parenting is the toughest job in the world and one, where you just cant afford to screw up.

Meghna: :):) thanks for making my day!

Amrita: What I meant by 'you and I know I am not seeing uncomplicated anymore....." is this:
That you and I(as in me and all of you, the rest of you, the readers..) know that life suddenly gets complicated as we grow up. It wasnt meant for the G. Just for all of us, all of whom read this. Did you get it? Just a weird style of writing I guess..:):)

Smitha: The second example is just something I remembered from the past. It has its downside too.
And children - ohh they can teach us a thing or two about life, dont you think?
And yeah, Dad was an amazing man.

J P Joshi said...

A wonderful and thoughtful post, straight from the heart ... guess, the heart is our sensitive part. We adults can surely learn from children, but it generally happens the other way around, as a number of comments have alluded to - a great loss to human kind, I feel. I am not too sure what were the thoughts that prompted William Wordsworth when he wrote this famous line, "the Child is the father of Man".

Unknown said...

What a beautiful lesson your Dad taught you that day...just came back to read it again...

Indyeah said...

This one touched a chord Piper.. I think it will with everyone who reads have written it beautifully..

How true na?
they were right when they said Child is the father of man..

the incident about the little girl and the rickshaw wallah?
This is how we rob a child's innocence dont we? :(

we make them cynical, they dont trust anyone ...they lose all that they have been born with..
its enough to make anyone depressed...:((

the second example..yes this is something I believe in too..

what a wonderful way to make one realise an important life lesson..your dad was someone really special wasnt he?:)

((hugs))) for his little girl too:)

Amrita said...

Hmm hmm i think i stupidly missed that... and maybe i ruined the flow of emotion by asking such a nearly clinical question. Wonder if people ask questions in comments...
I will reiterate.. it was indeed a beautiful post

Piper .. said...

J P Sir: Thank you Sir. I`m sure you observe this more than I do - through your lil angel Meher :):)

Chrysalis: :) touched!

Indyeah: Yes, Dad was a special man. Oh how I miss him.. You know, in the days between when he left and the prayer service, I had become a different person. This rude,nasty,weird person and extremely petty minded. I strongly believe that it was his way to put me back on track. The first episode couldve happened any other day as well. But it did on the day of Dad`s funeral service.
Hugs to you too. :)

Amrita: Ohh I guess it was a weird way of writing. Not your fault. Thanks for coming back and appreciating my efforts though :):)

moon said...

We could learn a lot from observing kids ..but the fact is v once upon a time had them and lost all those on our way...

Nice thought provoking quote...

Deeps said...

Its a shame that the mother really felt the need to reprimand her daughter for being naughty,whereas she should have been appreciated for being so sensitive and empathetic.

You know,Mish its strange how we follow the ideology blindly that adults are always right and children need to learn their ways from them.We somehow overlook the fact that children,many a times,with their innocence and observation end up teaching us a thing or two about life.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

A wonderful lesson. One that we need to remember time and again.

Strangley enough, it was my dad who taught me a similar lesson after a rickshaw ride in Pondicherry.

Piper .. said...

Sunder: Precisely. But we didnt have to, did we? :)

Deeps: Ohh they do. They always do. I`m sure you`ve read JP Joshi Sir`s post on his grandchild, didnt you?

M4: Pondicherry? Are you devotees of The MOther by any chance..just wondering.

Miss M said...

I so agree with you!

I would have done the same thing the girl did, mostly because my father has always always been like that. Always being generous and kind to everyone, especially to the less fortunate ones. Be it the maids at home, or the gardener OR the taxi drivers.

Hey you're from Ranchi? My sis in law is from Ranchi too! Actually I dont know too many people from Ranchi, just my boudi. And now you. :)

Renu said...

I agree to everyword you write..its parents who mould the children by their behaviour. There are umpteen incidents in a child'ds life which may be turned as learning points for empathy, kind and helping to others.

When my son was very young..he would always demand biscuits for all the children he was playing with, never for himself only,and he will always give his things to his friends,classmates or anyone who asked him and now he has grown to be a very kind and helping young man.

Solilo said...

We are pure, sensitive, sensible and honest when we are young. The world, system and surroundings change us. The survival of the fittest is applicable here and the approach each one of us have towards life differs and that makes one more sensitive than another. You know different qualities and developed depending on the circumstances one faces.

How I wish all of us could have the same brain and heart that we had at age 4 or 5. Only if world could support us the way we want.

Piper .. said...

Miss M: :) yes,I`m from ranchi. Where did your sis in law stay? see, its a small world!

Renu: yes, children are born that way. Its upto the parents to be able to nurture them into wholesome adults and therein lies the most important part of parenting - not staying up at night and changing diapers!

Solilo: Survival of the fittest is right. I have to agree. I know I myself teach my two year old nephew not to get bullied at play school but to fight back.

Anonymous said...

Totally totally!!! How silly of the Mum? She should have been so proud of the little girl!

My mum has this little poster in her drawing room:
'When you let me receive, I'm grateful.
When you let me give, I'm blessed!'
This is something that has turned her into quite a Santa Claus.

And this is something that shaped my life. Its an old old old story that my Hindi teacher told me decades ago.

A cultured Brahmin family (teachers sort) had fallen into tough times. The child saw someone really poor, and gave away his gold kada (bangle). When he returned home, his mom saw one bangle was missing, got really upset, and said, 'Why did you give one bangle away? You should have given the pair. Only then its useful to that person.' ... Or something on those lines.

So yes, give as much as you can!

Thanks for sharing, Piper. And sorry to bore you with so much detail!!!

God bless your family.

Miss M said...

It sure is a small world! But I so don't remember where in Ranchi she's from. :S

Agnes said...

That mother should have proud of her 4-year old.

Piper .. said...

writerzblock: Hey what a beautiful poster that is! :) And thanks for sharing the story. How I wish more people could think like that. I sometimes wonder if the zillions of books on parenting actually teach people a thing or two.

Agnes: :) She should`ve, no doubt! I guess sometimes parents tend to prioritize their own convenience before anything else - at what cost I wonder..
Welcome to my space! :)

ani_aset said...

well i tried sharing a packet of "peppy" the other day in train with a stranger, and he started giving me weird looks :(