If we could..

“Nahin! ... Don’t go there... don’t pick that up…. you’re dirtying your hands... get out of there.... listen to me!” As the barely four years old spunky kid played with reckless abandon in the park, I watched the parents instructing her relentlessly. The audio track just wouldn’t pause.

We adults have this compulsive need to quasi-play for kids. And as our children grow, our need to direct their play grows into our need to control their lives.

Jaa Simran jaa, jee le apni zindagi, but only with my permission. Think outside the box, but stay within your limits. Reach for the stars, but within the galaxy of sanskar. Burdened by expectations to be exceptional, while simultaneously beaten into following the herd, do our kids really have a chance to be what they were meant to be?

There’s a brief period in young adulthood when there is hope. Of exploring the truth in our worlds, or building perspectives, discovering life. Of growing a spine and a point of view with it.

“I’m the king of the world!”... Sitting unblinking in cinema halls with parental permissions and Cinderella deadlines to rush back home, we watched Jack Dawson standing on the bow of the Titanic screaming his lungs out. At that moment, all of us wanted to be that guy. That fearless laugh, that undaunted spirit, calling out to the adventures that life is about to unveil.

Many of us have Jack moments in our youth with the wonder of discovering new truths, new audacity, new relationships. A few lucky ones ride this wave out to design their own destiny, be the free spirits they are meant to be. But most end up caught in the drudgery of life.

Before we realise the trade-offs, expectations and choices are thrust on us. And we join the supply chain of compliant adults. Marriages, jobs, children, parents, responsibilities start weighing on drooping shoulders that were meant to hold our heads high.

Most Jacks that we become in real life end up with aspirations that don’t match capabilities, desires that don’t match affordability... a certainty that the world would have seen our genius, if only… a belief that we have been wronged by our spouses, bosses, peers, parents, …. anyone, but ourselves. Fertile fields for crops of resentment.

In a world where opportunities are shrinking, most people find grass is actually greener on the other side. Is it a surprise then, to find so many angry Jacks around us?

With digital kingdoms bestowing power on us like never before, our angry Jacks are now prosecutors, jury and judge on everything and everyone we don’t approve of. If we spot free spirits who dare believe they can do whatever they want, we pounce on them till they become the mice who followed the Pied Piper of Hamlyn.

Loaded with moral outrage, our Jacks become the spreader of the misery deep rooted in our own souls. .

“NO! don’t do that, can’t you hear? I’m going to stop your playing now. You are just not listening..!”

Yes, they still haven’t stopped. The mission to demand compliance from a child who has yet not learnt to conform. I find hope in her spunk.

The future depends on the spunk of our children, who have inherited all of our problems and almost none of our privileges. They are expected to follow, while being told they must lead.. Expected to play their part without getting a seat at the table.

While the adults in power are doubling down on young voices who dare to defy, I say a little prayer for their minds to have no fear and their heads to be held high..

And as for us who are experts of having lived more life..

If we could pass on our wisdom and not our opinions.

If we could protect and guide instead of punish and reprimand.

If we could be the enablers and not the directors of their lives.

What a gift it would be to give our children. What a legacy it would be to leave.


naghma mulla

Owner of the loudest laugh in the room and a development sector professional by day, Naghma is a by-mistake CA, who writes what she feels and feels what she writes.