Skip to main content

Revisiting memories of a Soul that was never young

As I spend more and more time with Adi, analyzing and attempting to understand his emotions, growth and journey as a child, I also end up revisiting my childhood memories. One striking factor that stands out is that as a child, I was never really a child. I know this sounds silly or maybe difficult to believe but it is how I see myself when I look back.


In my childhood, I grew up in Africa where most of the time you are in a social environment over which you have so little control. When with peers, I was always different and therefore ended up as a sore thumb that sticks out jarringly. I used to read all the time and rarely play. I never liked playing, it was as though the world of stories alone enchanted me. So I'd be the usual object of ridicule on account of many factors but most importantly because of my nationality - being Indian. The funny part was that I was mostly ridiculed by Indians themselves because most of them had opted for a different nationality by then. But as a child, the thing is I didn't understand what I was being ridiculed for? 


Teachers were worse. Most of them were Indians. They always had the tendency to praise the best students, compare the average students with the best in an open class and never really weigh each student's unique factor or that every child has a different ability or talent. Also, most teachers gave more importance to the 'social status' of a child. A businessman's child always had a higher visibility level than a doctor's child. But I am not complaining or making comparisons here. It was a different continent, culture and there were many factors at play that I don't even know about. But as a result, I am still very cynical about schools, teachers and their competence in developing and charting out a child's growth. I know for sure they didn't help me in any positive way. I mean it.  


I don't mean this with any bad intention but I believe I am a completely self-made person. I have never relied on other people's recommendations to get anything in life or relied on any external factors to prop me up in life. I have faced the toughest and most difficult conditions in life with a smile. I haven't ever buckled or run away to hide behind my parents or anyone else. But there is one important thing. 


During the teen years, there was some one very special who gave me that courage to smile through all difficulties. He gave me all His love and attention and continues to. That alone is the reason I was able to and am able to. I call Him my Light because when it was dark and there was no one around to know how frightening the darkness can be for a child, He told me, "I am there with you. Why fear when I am there?" I have never feared for or about anything thereafter. He has seen to it that I don't have to. I am grateful for it.


But during the early years as a child, my defense strategy was simple. Stay out of their way. Keep to the world of books. Be happy.


In the process, I believe I lost many things without realizing it. I lost the capacity to experience and react to the real world. Unknowingly, I enjoyed my splendid isolation so much that I resented any one trying to enter it. And looking back, I realize one fact: the soul in me was always ancient, it never gave me a chance to be a child and there are times when I regret that missed opportunity.


These words from the novel, ''The Bastard of Istanbul' prompted me to write this post because it got me reflecting seriously about this:


"The overwhelming majority of human beings age year by year, but not the clairvoyants: They age story by story."



Comments

Harish said…
Hm.. I remember my sister mentioning about joining her kid in a prenursery school and I asked her if she wanted her kid to be taught by someone like Ms V, who used to be a stick happy teacher of our times. She opted out of it..


BTW how is the novel? I saw it in the library and was planning to read next..
KParthasarathi said…
I don't know why but I felt sad after reading the post.The usual gaiety,spontaniety with care free abandon and the giggle and laughter of childhood days seem to have eluded you.But then you found the joy in the company of books and assurance through Him.Some teachers instead of being facilitators in making children mingle without distinction create differences by their attitudes.It is heartening to know that you are self made.It is a very well narrated post in impeccable style.
Sujatha Sathya said…
i read this post and felt the words tumbled out of your heart just like that...personal,forthright and so self-reflective

it saddens me too to see teachers being carried away by social status & stuff and it happens a lot here in india. well, maybe everywhere

i am just awed that that one line from that book moved you so much to write this post

growing up, i have loved books a lot too but not to the point of isolation...so this post was something new for me but i do udnerstand
@Harish - Do read the novel, it is very interesting and poetical but let me warn you, it is very depressing.

@KParthasarathi - yes, I too felt sad after I had read it. Thanks for the warm, caring words.

@Sujatha - Thanks a ton:) I too am overwhelmed that a writer's sentence moved me so deeply that I wrote this line. Thank you for liking it.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mélange said…
I was virtually eating the words you placed there Swapna..Childhood defines a human being.That's the truth.We are not at all interested to go deeply to the reasons why we are being molded so.Being the mother of a 7 year old myself,even I do this often.

Regarding the teachers and teaching part,what I have seen so far is the practice of anyone with a graduation can be a teacher.Teaching is such a genuine task that none entering this area seems so thoughtful of.In fact,the assessment needs to be for them.

Btw,if you were moved so much by the one line you have read in the book,that's what you have achieved Swapna..Cheers!
mythra81 said…
that sounds pretty much like my childhood/adolescence....although i was initially someone who loved nature and the outdoors and dreaded living in the urban jungle and competitive sports/games