Once we were children

 

Once we were children
Untamed and open
Born to mediocrity
Not burdened by superiority

Muddy ponds our pool
Walking barefoot was cool
Cycles, mopeds, buffaloes our tool
Of transport, drool
We did, over raw mangoes, wood apple, candy wool

We had faith or a wish
From tadpoles come forth fish
From clay we birthed vessels, toys with a squish
We never were damned by logic or glitch

School was a place to send
So that mothers, in quiet, could their time spend
For few of us was school a Godsend
For most, a time to detest, of apprehend

We were not to swanky cars born
We were not to brand-trend prone
Yet we did yearn
In meagreness, to learn

There was no rush
To run, to reach, to die
We lived here and now, and fie!
The ambitious, the money minded, the miser
We laughed, together cried, were far, far wiser

 

 

 

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Once we were children

Too much, too soon:          

 

Well, a young starlet is dead. A daughter of a famous singer attempted suicide. Another minor was brutally raped. A few people came under the wheels of a super swanky car. This didn’t happen yesterday or the day before, it has been happening for sometime now. The wise will say it is a result of having too much too soon. The wily will say, to hell with you! Stop the sermon and jump in the wagon or perish. Elsewhere, there are hundreds of little superstars in the making. Children as young as 7 years are vying for the top spot. To be famous, to be rich, to be successful. Oh, the bloody list is endless.

‘More’ is the new ‘less’. I mean more of everything. More money, fame, and the dirty game(s) to achieve the same. Clothes, accessories, toiletries, jewels, vehicles, housing, vacation, wealth, women, wine Gosh! What a lot of avenues to promote this ‘More’ culture (sorry Aditya Birla, this   isn’t about you, err…not only about you).

Intellects will give this phenomenon a name. Consumerism, capitalism whatever-ism. Yes Sir, no sir. I damn well wouldn’t know one from the other Sir.

But I do know that I am scared. I am sacred that I may not be able to give ‘more’ of everything to my children. I am worried that I might disappoint them at times. But the mighty coward that I am, I do not even have the balls (is it not politically correct to say boobs in my case?) to steer them clear of this gigantic have-everything-in-excess wave.

For example, I cannot think of home-schooling my children because I am scared they might miss out on some information. I cannot think of coaxing them to tread hitherto untrodden paths as I am scared they might miss out on some comforts. I cannot think of encouraging them to be total rebels as I dread that they might miss out on certain morals. I cannot even allow them to ‘be’ (you know, without pushing them to be achievers) as I am afraid they might miss out on being successful.

What the hell am I supposed to do? C’mon if they choose to be musicians, is it too much to ask of them to be a Sonu Nigam or a Shreya Ghoshal? Or if they choose sport, is it selfish to pray for another Tendulkar? And, let’s say, by some incomprehensible miracle if they choose medicine, who wouldn’t love a second Dr. Devi Shetty?

Now, don’t you go all out on me. I am after all, an ordinary mother, who wants her children well “settled” in life. When everybody else is pushing through, if I do not jump in, my kids might end up nowhere (God forbid, Shiva Shiva, Shantham Papam).

Too much, too soon:          

Its definitely me

It’s definitely me

The rawness in my tone was never meant to bruise you
The arrow in my eyes was never meant to pierce you
My melancholic demeanour was not donned to distance you
If I sought solitude, it was certainly not to stay away from you

My dear daughter
How shall I aver
This empty noise
That threatens my poise?

I couldn’t do that or become this
Very few feats,
Whose trophies I dare kiss
Yet, the ones to be done steal the bliss

Enter the mundane, all pervading, but inane
Schooling, bills, relatives and kiln
And you dear, will come, with issues a hundred and one
When all I want is to be left alone

I scream and I yell
And the look on your unblemished face will tell
The truth I don’t want to see
That the one who has erred is not you, but definitely me

Its definitely me

Five Paisa Sugar Candy

I was rich when I would spend five paisa, grew poorer when I could spend fifty rupees and poorest perhaps, when I could 500.

If you are a product born to the 70s India, to a class sandwiched between rich and dirt poor and attended a singularly sub-standard school, you would know what I mean. Five paisa would give us the delightful experience of a confectionary. A candy, lemon flavoured (Nimbe Huli peppermint for all Kannada aficionados).

There was this wonderful midget of a shop tucked away in a discreet corner in our school premises. It was simply called ‘Society’. The ‘Society” sold books, stationery, cloth for our dull-as-dodo uniform, brown wrappers and the lovely candies. Five paisa candies came in such colours and shapes as round and bean-shaped and star-shaped in taupe, orange, white, and green and pink.

With five paisa, one could haul three sugar candies. There was also the surreal toy-candy, a yo-yo of sorts, if you will. This was a white/green/pink confectionary about 1.5cm across and 0.4mm thick, through which a long woollen thread passed through two holes in the middle.

So, if you were boorish enough to make it known your possession of easy money, you bought this yo-yo candy. A child could play with it until she/he lost the battle of eyes and fingers to the command of the tongue.

For the audacious spoilt brats there was also the fifty-paisa paal-khova (a milk and flour sweet which melted even before it fully went into the mouth). You had to be indecently rich for that. Or enter into collaboration with three more students. However, this partnership very frequently culminated into how the sweet had to be divided and sub-divided and sub-sub-divided into how many pieces and why one should get half a piece more or less or not at all etc, resulting in the breakdown of an otherwise profitable module.

Nevertheless, there were always willing partners for your next venture. I had my own faithfuls with whom I collaborated on a regular basis. When we had free time or during lunch recesses, we visited this shop whenever our pockets would permit us.

In retrospect, there is this grateful thought that the little, rhombus-ish five paisa never failed to deliver. To deliver contentment, to deliver happiness, to deliver the joys of sharing, of forging bonds.

I wonder why the present day 5000 fails where a humble five paisa so beautifully succeeded.

Five Paisa Sugar Candy