I remember how, as a child, I would stare with wide amazement at people (read children a year or two elder than me) who were in a hurry to grow up. I would then imagine what it would be like to be a grown up, but my imagination would come to a stand still after a while, ’cause quite frankly I was not really interested in growing up. I think it’s an ongoing process, and it has taken me a while to come to terms with many changes all through these years. To be honest, I dislike the fact that I belong to an age group which is supposed to shoulder responsibilities. Suddenly, we’re exposed to the ‘danger zone’ of life. Some of these dangers are our own creation, needless to say. And then we have nobody but our own selves to rely on. We go through journeys inside, we develop minds of our own, and we make our own decisions. We struggle with demarcating between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. And then we make our own rulebook. ‘Responsibility’ is a BIG word. Suddenly the onus is transferred from our parents to us, and the strange thing is that we do not even come to know about it. Suddenly we’re faced with the ugly truth that our grandparents and parents are growing old too. They won’t be as strong as they used to be. We’ll feel bad each time one of them shall succumb to fever, but we won’t be able to escape the fact that everyone is growing old, including us.
It happens gradually. Some of us become rebels. Actually all of us do, in some manner or the other. Only some show it, while others do not until required. What might seem rebellious to someone might seem reasonable to us. There’s one thing though, that does not change: the art of storytelling. As children, we are narrated stories that have been handed over from generations together. We become whatever we read and listen. We are like clay when we’re children. At times, children are wiser than many of their adults. Many children feel ‘ancient’ and similar to ‘old souls’ as a result. But there’s something so pure about a child’s naivety. We cannot love each other if we do not love children. Caring for children requires patience, sympathy, compassion. These are ingredients that make up a wonderful human being. We all have a bit of that child inside of us who still hasn’t grown up. That child is still naive, and probably will remain naive for a long time. That child makes mistakes for which we’re not forgiven, ’cause we’re adults now. As adults, we hold grudges and we take things a bit too seriously. Many of us are thinkoholics. And needless to say, the more we think about things, the weirder and the more convoluted they seem. Epiphanies, out-of-the-blue curiosities and self-fulfilling prophesies are exceptions to the rule, of course. We’re more narrow minded. Is it because we’ve stopped reading our fantastical storybooks? So, everything becomes almost unforgivable. ‘Cause we stick to one perspective. We see two colours: black and white. Come on now, just because you have gray hair on your head does not mean that you’ll notice the gray areas. As adults, we can at times act stupider, I guess. But then we narrate our own stories. We have nothing but our own wisdom and experiences to count on. We make mistakes, fight our own battles, move on, and transform our soul. At times, we torture it as well. As adults, we’re there for each other, ’cause we can relate to so many stories on a familiar level. At times we click because we sail through the same storms, holding on to the same baggage.
From childhood to adulthood to super-adulthood, our journey is full of surprises. Childhood was safe, secure, free of responsibilities, and of course, cute. But it lays down the foundation for a robust adulthood, provided of course that the childhood itself is robust. The way we see our parents behave, the environment we’re brought up in, the stories we’re told, the manners we’re taught, the places we visit, the people we see and meet, all shape us up. I think the best part about childhood is that colourful collection of story books many of us still hold on to. Atleast I do. I might not read them, but it’s like giving a piece of my childhood when it comes to giving them away. But I do circulate them in my family, ’cause well, I really don’t read them anymore. But I feel glad that we all read those stories atleast twice; once for ourselves and the second time, we’re narrating them to a different set of children. I would always read stories out of my curiosity for the ‘moral of the story’. And if I was listening to a bedtime story being narrated by my grandfather, I would not think it was over till he ended it by asking me, “So, what did you learn?” I would listen to him with rapt attention. And this attention was not deliberate, because these stories were like a fantasy world where everything would eventually be alright and just. That world was magical, and it simply attracted one to it like a magnet. Those stories used to lay the foundation for a utopian adulthood, and idealistic situations. In short, daydreams at night. And there were so many stories that he often repeated, only because I loved to hear them again and again. They were lullabies in a sonorous tone. There were audio-cassettes that had just entered the market, and my father once got us a set of them. We were soon travelling somewhere, and my brother and I insisted on playing those cassettes in the car. And I don’t know if that annoyed my parents, but we listened to those tapes throughout the journey 😛 I’m sure they’d have had a laugh listening to the voices of the squirrel that could talk or the fox that dyed himself indigo. During those days, stories were an addiction for us. Be it cartoons on the TV or story books that demanded a separate shelf to be carpentered for them.
I think every story has a moral. We all perceive things in different ways, and that’s why we provide different versions to a single story. But then, it is indeed true that we have something to learn from every person’s experience. These stories might not be written elsewhere, but these leave inexpungible prints on our minds. These stories remain alive in our memories, our tears, our laughter. We do not carry anything else to the grave when we leave this abode of Earth, just like how we entered this world, but we write our own stories while we’re here. One of my uncles once told us, “God only decided when we enter this place, and when we leave this place. The rest of the blank pages are to be filled by us individually.” This sounds quite contradictory to the belief in ‘destiny’, but it makes sense nonetheless.
Moral of the story: We’re all stories in the end..