“Har bacchaa aankhen kholte hi karta hai sawaal mohabbat kaa
Duniya ke kissi goshe se use mil jaaye jawaab to acchaa ho” – Ghulam Mohammad Qasir
[On opening the eyes (at birth) each child raises the question of love
(If only) some corner of this world could provide the response, it would be so nice]
It was bedtime for my granddaughter and she wanted me to read a story from one of her many favorite books. She knew the story by rote as her mommy, daddy and nani had previously read it out to her several times. This was my first time reading that book and I continued earnestly, “.. and then the prince arrived…”. My little princess immediately corrected me, “No nana” she giggled and admonished me, “The prince appeared”. I apologized for not reading out the story correctly. Feeling sorry for me, my granddaughter gave me a hug and said, “That’s okay nana. You don’t know this story. I have “read” it many times, so I know what it says”. I was floored by this little girl’s empathy. She did not want to hurt her nana’s feelings and was compassionately reassuring me that it was okay to make a mistake.
On another occasion my wife was on the couch with our two years old granddaughter in her lap intently pouring over a picture book, fascinated by the story her nani was reading out loud to her. She was eager to move to the next part of the story and in trying to turn the page stubbed my wife’s finger. My wife instinctively said, “Ouch”. Little J’s face fell and she promptly grabbed her nani’s hand, kissed it and looking at her with concern inquired, “Is it better, nani?” Her nani assured her that she was fine.
Examples like these illustrate to me that when nature delivers us kicking and screaming in to this world it is as caring, compassionate, loving beings. This is our natural state. Children are not politically correct. They tell it like it is and have honest relationships. A kid will come up spontaneously to give you a hug. A child will push another way because he refuses to share a favorite toy but minutes later all transgressions will be forgotten and hugs shared. The expression “Child-like innocence” sums it all up.
As we grow older interactions with parents, siblings, teachers and others start to influence our thought process. Other people’s preferences and prejudices start to color our thinking. The innate innocence is overshadowed by other base instincts and we adopt self-preservation behavioral patterns. We learn to label and judge others.
My wife works with pre-nursery and kindergarten school children and every day she has an amusing incident about some child. Even when she is exasperated and exhausted by the behavior of a “brat”, we invariably still end up smiling when she relates the antics of the day. We start to see the world through the eyes of the child and it lightens us up. If only I could keep this state of mind intact, it would make life so much simpler to live.
“Bacchon ke chhote haathon ko chaand sitaare chhoone do
Chaar kitaaben padhhkar woh bhi hum jaise ho jaayenge” – Nida Fazli
[Let the tiny hands of innocent children reach out to grasp the moon and stars
On reading four books (getting education), they too will become like us]