Childhood Truncated

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France The only thing constant in this world is change. I think we all have grown up listening to our parents at some point in time starting a story with the line “when we were children…” perhaps that is why now that I begin to write I feel a bit older than I should even in my 20’s. When I was a child, and that was not centuries ago, but things were still different. A newspaper report on how children stood for hours to lay their hands upon the copies of the latest Harry Potter, the day it released got me thinking. I never stood in a queue to get my copy of Enid Blyton. Many a times was I lost in a willow farm but never did I experience this kind of frenzy.

As children we did not have Cartoon Network or Pogo dishing out programs 24 x 7, we had to wait patiently for Disney hour on Doordarshan; movies did not mean an array of choices but the two films shown every weekend. But now all that seems a distant reality. I don’t know how many would care about a Darrel and a Sally in Malory towers because Hogwarts offers more of an enigma. The lazy afternoons spent musing at the simple mysteries that the secrets seven solved are perhaps insufficient to interest the minds of today’s children. A ray of hope was a report that in England Enid Blyton still remains the largest selling children’s author. It is not a competition, certainly not! just a feeling of nostalgia that many of us perhaps would share.

The very concept of “childhood” is changing and changing quickly. For instance the very idea of “playing” in the evening that was like a much-awaited thing every day after school has vanished, well almost. I don’t see a single child enthusiastic about “ hide and seek”, “Lock and key”, “chain -chain”, “help sister help” and other such fun games that sound so ridiculous now. This is more an age of computer games and cell phones. Children remain immersed neck deep into textbooks while parents are breathing down the neck of the child who must be successful or worse practicing to death for reality shows.

The modern age parents will frown at the concept of “dowry” but they don’t give a thought when they treat their children as “investments” which would give “returns”. Too much time is spent on preparing a hectic schedule for the child and too little in instilling values and principles or spending quality time. Do the so-called modern parents even think about the example they are setting when they make the domestic help (who is a child) carry the school bags of their children to the bus stand?

Cribbing against change is no good. But at what cost is this change taking place that is the question. Is innocence paying for “success”? Hope not. Let us prevent children from growing up too fast for comfort. Because it ultimately does hurt when a girl lies paralyzed thanks to a reality show as in the case of Shinjini Sengupta or when children commit suicide because of their results. Because as George Eliot said “We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it.”

Shiny Das

[Image source:]