Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Childhood Dreams

This is the 1000th post in my blog. And that got me thinking...How do I make this blog post special? And I did the best thing possible. I decided to let someone else make this post memorable.

Readers of my blog know that I support Project Why, a NGO organization that has done wonders in enabling God's children to express themselves and find rightful place in this world. This organization is run by Anouradha Bakshi , a person whom I have come to admire a lot. Her blog is definitely a revelation for me. This special blog post is titled "Childhood Dreams", read on...

Childhood dreams

It is indeed an honour to be asked to write a guest post on a blog. Blogs are indeed very special private spaces that one must be weary of seeing invaded in anyway. So I begin this post by the very quote the author chose to display for the past few days. "Life is half spent before we know what it is." (George Herbert)

For many of us life is something we chose not to ponder about. It passes by one day at a time and we just let it pass. We react to bits of it with anger, joy, frustration or a mix of all and then simply move on. Most of us do not need to get off the spinning wheel and look back at times gone by. It is only in times of crises, when we are hit by something too large to fathom that we allow ourselves to take stock of our on lives. I recently read The Last lecture, a book by Randy Pausch where the author talks about life as being the platform to achieve childhood dreams. This candid definition was perplexing as most of us like defining ourselves as who we are today: a successful professional, a good homemaker, a enlightened professor and so on. But come to think about it there many such successful or not so successful people. What is it that makes each one of us who we are and I guess the real answer lies in our childhood dreams and desires.

For the past 10 years I have been engaged in what is today known as developmental activities and running what could be called a successful NGO by the name of project why. It has been a roller coaster ride with its share of angst and challenges. But in spite of everything these 10 years have been the best of my life. And knowing myself it is not because of the kudos or the appreciation one has received but because in some way it fulfilled a lost yearning. And as I set out on a long journey down memory lane a long forgotten incident came back to life:

The big bear has just finished the last of his antics. The noose around its snout ensured he did not step out of line. The owner in his tattered and threadbare clothes stands proudly hoping to get a good take. The house is imposing; its inmates look rich.

It is a chilly morning in this small Indian town. A watery sun is trying to break through the late morning mist. The grandmother has specially arranged the show for her 3 year- old grand daughter who has come from across many seas. She gets up and gives the man a few notes. A lot for a simple bear show in times when a few coins bought a lot of ware.

The man still wants to try his luck.

"It is very cold, Memsahib, would you be kind enough to give me an old coat"

The grandmother knowing the game smiles and tells him to go. The man insists. The grandmother raises her voice and repeats her words. The game goes on for a while till the man realises he will get no more and packs up his ware, urges his bear to move on and walks out of the gate.

As everyone gets off the rope chairs that had been laid out in the veranda for the performance a loud wail is heard:

"You are all very mean, you have so many coats hanging in your cupboards and you could not give the man one"

It is the little girl who has been watching the show from a corner, a tad frightened by the huge animal. Maybe she saw much more than the simple antics of the performing bear.

The grandmother and all present try to reason with her and tell her that the man has got a lot of money and must be happy. But the little girl refuses to be quietened and goes on crying and repeating her now almost incoherent pleas.

The grandfather who had remained in his office now comes out to find out what is happening. The little girl is still saying in between wrecking sobs:" you have so many, why did you not give him one".

The grandfather somehow sees beyond the words and simply asks his wife to find a coat and send the house servant on bicycle to find the man and give him the coat.

Only when the servant comes back and tells all present that the coat has been given does the little girl stop crying.

The year is 1955, the small town Meerut.

I had forgotten about this incident and yet when it came back to mind it had lost none of its poignancy. I could still feel the pain, the anger, the helplessness and the relief I had felt more than half a century ago. I also understood why project why came to be and why it is the one and only thing that truly defines who and what I am.

Life is half spent before we know what it is, as to really know what it is we need to have the courage to go way back and find and accept our long lost childhood dreams and seek a way of fulfilling them.

anouradha bakshi
project why
skype: projectwhy

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1 comment:

Renu said...

I really admire you, may people feel like that, but how many have the courage to follow their child hood dream?