When you were one, perhaps the only thing that mattered to you was a nice siesta. All you had to do is just sleep, eat, and then sleep again. Say a little bit of dida and momma in your tongue and not bother about the syntax of the language. A little later, the latest toy became the obsession.
You then moved on to school. Education then was a lot different than what it is now-a- days, whether you coloured the giraffe purple or green, it really didn’t matter. There was no protocol to follow, not many rules to abide by, except the rationing of the television viewing time, based on intense negotiations with mummy dearest. Most young lads would express their desires to become pilots by profession when they wrote their first few compositions and they had the belief in them that it was a realistic goal.
You could cry when in pain, without having to feel embarrassed about it. You could dance in the rain and you would not have to straighten up, when you see a pedestrian staring at you. You could crack stupid jokes and laugh at the silliest of things, because a good sense of humour didn’t matter.
Marks were important, well you always had an incentive to score back then, though it was only something as small as your favorite pair of shoes or a box of chocolates. A scolding by your teachers was sufficient to get you back on track whenever you lost focus. How your body odour would offend your childhood sweetheart never was an issue, nor was saving pocket money for that special date.
Most of all, there were no strings attached. Deadlines could come and go, like the rains, but who really cared?? It was your world, your impenetrable bubble of joy.
A few years later, you reach the threshold of adulthood and the bubble just bursts. Not that there is no happiness in life now, but now there’s a price to pay, burdens to bear and risks to take. You realize the whole story of a fairy taking your pains away was a sham, just another placebo! Materialism takes a grip over you. You now have to follow the norms of the society to be accepted by it. Job, money, relationships and family commitments, politics and hypocrisy - Life all of a sudden seems more complicated than ever!
Ironically, you ponder, homework wasn’t that bad after all! The only thing you desperately want now is your childhood.
PS: A beautiful ghazal that comes into my mind when I think of the topic:
“Woh daulat bhi le lo, woh shaurat bhi le lo, magar mujhko lautado, bachpan ka sawaan, woh kagaz ki kashti, woh baarish ka paani, woh bhudiye jisse bachche kehte the nani…”