Child's play

Our family recently holidayed at Blue Mountain. It was a great trip and the best part was spending quality time bonding with our granddaughters. I got to learn (and promptly forgot) the names of the entire My Little Pony repertoire (Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity etc.), Star Wars heroes and villains, the principal characters from the Lolirock series and many more personae. “Nana”, I was chastised by the five-year old granddaughter at breakfast almost every morning, “You forget everything. I just told you last evening that Auriana is NOT a princess. She is the heiress to the throne of Ephidia”!  The two year old would then pipe up, sternly wagging her spoon dripping granola and yogurt, “Ya! Nana! You forget everything”! It was precious. It is usually difficult for an adult to acknowledge a memory lapse. In this instance however I enjoyed acceding to the whims of the two young minds that were keen to educate me on things that mattered so much to them, all the while ensuring my active, unflagging participation.

We spent hours designing, drawing, cutting, sticking and coloring paper castles, dinosaurs, birdhouses and other objects. My wife is great at engaging young kids in art and crafts, but it was a new experience for me. I had to relearn the art of making paper airplanes and boats, with encouragement being provided through exclamations like, “Good job, Nana! You are coloring neatly, within the lines”.

Upon returning after an afternoon of walking about in the Village, I sank gratefully into a settee letting out a sigh. My granddaughter promptly asked me, “Nana, are you okay? Is your heart hurting?” When I was hospitalized last year because of heart related health issues, she was told that it was because “Nana’s heart was hurting”. I assured her that my heart was “not hurting” any more. “Is you heart now just like everyone else’s heart, Nana?” I told her it was. “Good. I love you, Nana”. When her own stomach was hurting she cuddled up to me and said, “You are my magic Nana and can make me feel better”. How does one respond to such an unadulterated expression of loving concern?

My wife took the two year old to a public washroom and repeatedly reminded her several times to “not touch anything and hold on to Nani’s hand”. After the fifth or sixth such reminder, the little one held up her tiny palm to my wife’s face and told her off, “I got it Nani!” Another time, my wife told our granddaughter that at Nani’s home she could have more than the single oatmeal cookie she was allowed for the day and did not have to tell her mother about it. The five-year oracle promptly said, “In our house Nani, there are no secrets”.

A child is born unsullied and is by nature, trusting, loving and innocently honest. Initially the parents and later teachers and the growing circle of friends start the conditioning of a child with their own prejudices and actions. A kid is like a sponge that absorbs everything, even things unsaid between two parents at home. It is a rarity these days to be able to ascribe to an adult the quality of child-like innocence. In a corporate environment displaying such qualities might even be misconstrued as a weakness. There is so much we have to learn from our children.

My wife’s grandfather, an erudite person and at one time the Head of English Department at Government College, Lahore used to remind us that “the child is the father of the man”, from Wordsworth’s poem:

“My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is the father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.”

Similarly, the eminent Indian poet and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi has allegorically penned the following verse:

“Laaga chunari main daag, chhupaoon kaise

Kori chunariya aatma mori, mail hai maayaa jaal,
Woh duniyaa morey baabul ka ghar, yeh duniyaa sasuraal,
Jaa key babul say nazarein milaaoon kaise, ghar jaaoon kaise

[Like the unbleached veil my soul was pure and clean, (now that it is) sullied by worldly distractions how do I conceal the blemish

The other world is my Father’s (God’s) abode, this world is my in-laws home
How can I now face my Father (God/Supreme Power), with what face can I go home (back to the Source)]

4 Replies to “Child's play”

  1. Such a lovely read. I should print or a copy to remember all the things the girls day. Perfectly captured. They are fortunate to have such a wonderful Nani and nana


  2. You too are as special as the girls for being so observant, and taking such delight in your role as a loving nana … may you always take the time to savour every precious moment together


  3. After the passing of a favourite uncle, my brother-in-law recited these lines from a sher:

    Raste kya hue woh log jo aate jate
    Mere aadab pe kehte thay ki jeete rahiye.

    I forget the origin of the sher. The absence of elders in the family leaves a hole, but it’s also true that now we are in the position of passing on blessing to the young ones. Time spent with grandkids is indeed precious. We hold it close to our hearts and bless them with a jeete raho, khush raho.


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