Can we give our children a childhood worth soul cherishing?
There is this popular episode of a little girl whose dad had to leave in a hurry without giving her a goodbye kiss.
“Getting late for a meeting, I need to run,” he said, as he slung his coat over the shoulder, and bounded out of the house. As he drove away, she came running down the stairs two at a time. “Wait, wait,” she said in despair, but he had already left.
Her mouth crumpled like used wrapping paper. “He forgot to give me a goodbye kiss,” she whispered in a voice that trembled under the weight of her hurt. She called him, “You left without giving me a kiss,” she said accusingly. “I am sorry, sweetheart,” he said, his voice contrite. “It is okay,” she said, trying to be all grown up as she cut the call and retreated into a state of dull resignation.
She gulped down her breakfast morosely, wore her shoes, picked up her school bag and started to walk out of the door, her shoulders slumped. As she got down the steps, the car glided to a stop outside the house. He got out of the car. She ran to him, her face lit up like a Christmas tree.
“I am sorry I forgot,” he said, as he picked her up and hugged her. She said nothing. Her jaw ached from smiling.
Fifteen years later, no one would remember he was late for a meeting, but a little girl would never ever forget that her father drove all the way back home just to kiss her goodbye!
This story reminds me of a similar incident that happened when my daughter, Komal, was hardly seven years old. After a bad, weary and stressful day in the office, I came home in the night in a gloomy mood, depressed, disillusioned and tense. As soon as I entered the house, I charged towards the comfortable sofa and eased myself deep into it with my eyes closed, wishing that I could drown in it and remain there till eternity. Suddenly, within a couple of minutes, I heard Komal sobbing uncontrollably. Startled and confused, I came out of my reverie, wide eyed. There she was in front of me, bent upon her little desk, pencil in hand, quivering and shaking like a little plant in the midst of a cyclone. My eyeballs almost came out of their sockets and I wondered what had triggered the mournful, heartrending and tearful wail of woe. Springing out of the sofa like a jack in the box, I bounded towards her like a frog. Sitting before her wide eyed and nervous, I gently asked her the reason for her tearful reception. The volume of her bawling amplified further and attained a very high decibel.
“What’s the matter Koms? Anything wrong? Please tell me what is ailing you so suddenly my dear,” I again enquired with concern. My wife, sitting beside her, was dazed and knew not what was happening. She took Komal in her arms, pampering and cajoling her. I wiped her tears and pleaded with her to reveal the cause of her grief and agony. Raising her little voice in a ringing baritone, she disclosed, “Papa, you did not greet me when you entered the hall.” I could instantly feel the debilitating grief purge from her soul. The gut-wrenching sobs came from deep inside her and I realised the immediate need for psychological troubleshooting. The deep anguish of the soul had to be pacified. Immediately taking her in my arms, I told her about the bad day I’d had in the office and apologised profusely, saying that this would not happen again in the future. Instantly, she stopped crying, and wiping her tears with her puny hands and caressing my cheeks, asked me if my ‘teacher’ had scolded me. I told her that something like that had happened. After a few seconds of pondering, she asked me if she could come and speak to my ‘teacher’ and ask her not to scold me! Now it was her turn to make me weep and she did it with élan and style! I could not control the stream of tears overflowing from my eyes now as the strength of her love overwhelmed me. Holding her tight, I asked her if we could go for a ’round’on my motorcycle. Leaving her homework aside, she jumped impulsively, grabbed my hand and shouted in glee, “Let’s go, Papa!” We left quickly for a long ’round’ around Pondicherry- her long tresses fluttering in the breeze, her smile covering her face fully, she looked like an ecstatic angel. Once back home, she rewarded me with a big sloppy kiss and went back to her homework, humming a song while her pencil moved on paper like a ballet dancer.
I can only thank God for His intervention on that fateful day when He helped me touch my little one’s soul.
Even after twenty years, Komal still relishes and cherishes the ’round’ we took around Pondicherry and recollects the event with emotion and compassion. In fact, nowadays if I come home depressed and distressed, she calls out, “Papa, shall I take you for a round?” I immediately accept her affectionate offer and take the pillion seat on her scooter. Riding the scooter with exuberance, she weaves through the lanes and roads of Pondicherry. Her stresses still flutter, her smile still covers the whole of her face and she continues looking like a gorgeous soul angel. On the other hand, sitting behind her, I realise that my hair is too short to flutter, my visage too crinkled to resemble an angel but thank God, a big fat smile occupies my whole visage watching this lass taking me for a ’round’. The world has indeed come ’round’ three hundred and sixty degrees and the Divine is indeed kind to me. I can only thank God for His intervention on that fateful day when He helped me touch my little one’s soul.
In both the instances narrated above, the common factor was the timely and spontaneous handling of the situation, the effect of which left a lasting impression in the two innocent little girls. Throughout their lives, the two angels would remember the gestures of their respective dads and feel happy and wanted forever. The thoughts the two little ones carry for their fathers are worth more than anything the world can offer the two patriarchs.
Let us fill the hearts of posterity with unadulterated love and positive emotions so that they, in turn, can transform the world into a global arena of peaceful human coexistence sans hatred and violence. The tender minds of our children have to be seasoned with compassion, love and honesty on one side together with courage, strength and fortitude on the other. During the tender period of their childhood all children live spontaneously and are struggling to find themselves. Throughout that critical phase, both hurt and love tend to last long in their young minds and hearts. We need to consciously oil their hearts with compassion, affection and kindness to enable them to drive the scooter of their lives down the lane of life safely and comfortably. Only with faith in the past can these players of the future migrate smoothly into the present.
Life brings tears, smiles and memories. The tears dry, the smiles fade, but the soul memories last forever.