Tag Archives: children
“What’s up young man?” I asked.
“What are you doing?” he asked, point blank.
That un-nerved me a little, for you never know what the kid was thinking. I played safe, “Just imagining things,” I said.
“What things?” he asked.
“All sorts of things,” I said, not really getting the hang of the conversation.
“Why?” he said.
Now there is little you can do when a young person asks you why. So I deflected the question, “My imagination saw your imagination there,” I said, pointing towards the sky.
That hooked him. We were on familiar territory now, in the world of imaginations.
“Where,” he asked. Perhaps he wanted to know the exact location of our imaginations.
“There, above the clouds,” I said, “Where lots of imaginations live.”
“Imaginations live above clouds?” he asked, curious.
“Not all,” I said, “but the better ones like to live above the clouds.”
“How do you know?” he asked.
“I have been studying imaginations all my life. I am an expert on them. My imagination meets the imaginations of so many people. That is what I was doing. ‘I was connecting’,” I explained.
The expression on his face turned to respect. It takes one to know one.
“Your imagination tells you everything?” he asked.
“Imagination can tell anything. Many things that even the scientists do not know,” I said.
“And they don’t lie?” asked the kid, for he wanted to be on sure grounds before proceeding further into the world of imaginations.
“Imaginations can tell you anything, it is up to you to believe them or not. They are not very particular about truth, but they are powerful none the less. They know the truth, which is sometimes difficult to find,” I said.
“But truth is easy to see. They are like facts,” the kid remarked.
“Not so. Most of the times truth is hidden behind layers of feelings. But imagination knows truth, for truth is sweet and imagination is powerful. I will give you an example. There are many poor children who have not seen the inside of a normal home. They imagine how it may be and are happy.”
“They can go anywhere they can imagine,” he asked.
“Yes of course, like you can go on an adventure, or on a spaceship, or fly with superman or fight the aliens. My imagination once saw a beggar child imagination what it would be to go around the city in a car. I decided to take him along with me in my car. And I did. At the end of the ride I asked him how he liked it, and he said, it was good, but he had been around earlier also. I asked him when, and he said, in his imagination. So, you see, imaginations can be pretty accurate.”
“Wonderful!” he exclaimed.
“No, but remember, not everyone is blessed with such great imaginations,” I cautioned, for I knew that he would feel that the world doesn’t need anything more than imagination. “Moreover, the soul needs imagination, but the body needs more worldly solid things.”
He was disappointed, for he seemed to detect a fly in the ointment. “My dad was saying it is all fool’s paradise,” he said.
“Not so. Newton to Einstein, Aristotle to Marx, Leaonardo da Vinci to Picasso – all the great men have had great imaginations, ones they believed in.”
“What was my imagination doing?” asked the boy.
“I don’t know. Did not talk to it. It seemed busy,” I said.
“Yes, it was. It was catching snakes. Huge snakes,” he nodded and said.
“Ah, that explains it. Your imagination was looking very preoccupied,” I said.
“How did you recognize it was my imagination?” he suddenly asked.
“It looked like you,” I said simply.
“Oh,” he said, “there must be millions and billions and gillions of imaginations up there?” he said.
“Not so. Only few imaginations soar so high. Mostly those of kids. Only few adult imaginations go there. Most adult imaginations can not even cross the clouds, let alone reach space. But the one that can go into space can go anywhere in the universe. No, even beyond the universe, but that needs more power,” I explained.
“What’s beyond universe?” he asked.
“Don’t know yet. Have not been able to go there. Imaginations of saints and really good people are so powerful as to break out of universe. But I have talked to some of those who have been beyond, and they say it is wonderful, for there it is without rules and limitations and free,” I said.
We were silent for a while, as we tried to imagine beyond universe. The little boy’s sigh told me that this time he had failed. And that is the danger of growing up. “Boy, never give up imagination even though at times it will not be able to take you where you want. The imagination of the adults becomes feeble only because they stop believing in them. They start believing too much in the real world, which, I am sure you know, is also imaginary,” I concluded with a smile, and decided to let his imagination figure out the rest.
((Pic courtesy: punktlos from the net))
The political orientation of the Winged party is far from clear to anyone, including the founding fathers. Nor does it have a clear agenda. The owls and bats tended to oppose the leadership of the crows, while the eagles and vultures rarely attended the meetings.
The present meeting was presided over by a blind old bat, who was revered by all for his contribution to the cause of the avian society in the past. The powerful Crow family used him as a symbol to keep the flock together, while exercising power from behind his wings.
The meeting started on a gloomy note, with the mention of disappearing of the Swan, the beauty queen and the heartthrob of many. The disappearance had taken place in mysterious circumstances, and many felt the dog squad was not doing enough to nab the perpetrators of the heinous act.
“We must take the matter to King Sher Singh. Criminalization of the jungle is almost complete. The crocodiles or the Cat gang could be behind the crime. It is time someone raised their voice,” shrieked a woodpecker.
The Crow family – father, two sons and a daughter, all members of the party – looked distinctly uncomfortable. Papa Crow cleared his throat and tried to bring reason to the discourse:
“However sad we all may be over the disappearance of our beloved comrade, we must exercise restraint. For all we know, Swan could have flown to its native land in Europe. Conspiracy theories always lead to recriminations and disrupt the social order.”
The Crows had working relations with the cats and the crocs, and did not want the matter to escalate. They had a sneaking suspicion that someone from the Big Cats may have kidnapped the Swan, for swan meat was considered to be a delicacy in those circles. Though the new laws of the jungle gave protection to endangered species and foreigners, some animals were known to be above law.
Papa Crow’s voice of sanity did not have many takers, and in the heat of the moment, he was hooted down, and a resolution was passed for sending a strongly worded letter to the King.
The letter was read by the Wolf in the court, to derisive sniggers. Most of those present knew the final destination of the Swan, and smiled. Sher Singh also smiled, but dictated a carefully worded reply:
“The matter of the missing Swan has been brought to the notice of the government. We appreciate the seriousness of the matter, and assure our avian friends that all efforts would be made to trace the whereabouts of the respected Swan. Signed etc.”
“No need to promote these birds by sending a reply,” grumbled a leopard.
But Sher Singh knew how democracy worked. His rule from behind the veneer of democracy was based on respecting the sentiments of all, and on promoting the interests of some. He waived a hand, dismissing the objection, and indicating that next subject on the agenda be put up.
The Swan was forgotten by most within days, but the firmness and love of justice of Sher Singh, as evident from his reply to the Winged Party, was the subject of many a newspaper columns for months.
Moral of the story: Newspaper columnists know which side of their bread is buttered.
The chicken that crossed the road wondered what the fuss was all about.
“There is no rule about not crossing the road, is there?” asked the chicken, panicking at the brouhaha.
“Umm, no. But chicken are expected to be afraid of traffic, and not mess with their lives. You see, authorities want your own safety,” replied the Inspector.
“The state has become paternal and has assumed all the powers of a father. Where is the free will,” the wise old owl commented cheekily from the branch overhead.
“What is that supposed to mean?” asked an angry Inspector, wondering whether the old fool was once again trying to sow seeds of dissent among the public. “Do not play mischief with the lives of people. If there are rules, they are for the good of the animals, and respecting them makes for a happy and safe society.”
Though the owl did not want to get drawn into the controversy, he could not resist quoting the old rule that a razor should never be given to a monkey.
The inspector, who happened to be a monkey, and also happened to have a weapon on his person, saw through the seemingly innocent comment.
“Oo. So we are challenging the authority of law, are we?” he demanded. “I arrest you for obstructing an officer of law in discharging his duty.”
Soon the matter was taken up at the court of justice, presided over by a balding eagle.
It did not help matters that the eagle disliked the owl, or that the chicken, which was produced as a witness in the case, ranted about crossing the road with a zebra.
The Hon’ble eagle, in its legal wisdom, pronounced the owl guilty, and sent him for a month of community service.
The monkey, satisfied at having quashed a rebellion in the bud, recounted the instance to many an animals with the sole wish to establish respect for law in society.
The incident however had the reverse effect on some of the more sensitive birds, who flew into a rage, and started attending a secret society to counter the growing autocracy in the country.
The chicken was made the mascot of the secret society – something that led to much disgust in the powerful circles.
Soon, the full force of law, and this time it was heavy ammunition of police dogs and hyenas that tackled the budding insurgency. Law was pressed into action, and a large number of chickens were culled for the betterment of the society. The culled chickens were used to make soup and this was served to the lions. The pride, which ruled the jungle for the benefit of all, prided itself for being ecologically sensitive and not wasteful, and encouraged cooking up of animals given capital punishment.
The discussion that followed the party dwelled on the foolishness of the aspersions that are cast on the law of the jungle by foreign powers. “We know what is best for our people,” commented the oldest male lion of the pack, for in his life he had always worked for a just and inclusive society.
((Warning: Reveals the plot. So those who intend to watch the movies please do not read any further))
It was late in the night when I came out of the theater, having watched the latest Hollywood flick, The Dark Knight Rises, with my ten year old son Tintin. Both of us had had a whale of a time – great action, superb story and some tasty popcorn.
Tintin: Awesome. (He gave his verdict.)
Me: Yes, great movie. Less humor than Spiderman, though.
Tintin: That Miranda Tate was a villain. I was so surprised. She was the kid in the well?
Me: Yes. And the Catwoman was not so bad after all.
Tintin: (With a scowl of disapproval) She was bad. She got Batman into the trap of Bane. Imagine if he had failed to escape. But why did Miranda hate Batman?
I explain the plot to him. That Miranda was a victim of the ‘system’ and hated it. Batman was the defender of the city of Gotham. She wanted to destroy Gotham and Batman was in her way. I also explain that Gotham city symbolized the World, but more specifically the Western Civilization, while Bane and Miranda can be equated with today’s terrorists and Maoists.
Tintin: (Confused) Why were the poor people being tortured and put into prisons?
I realized that I had opened a Pandora’s box. I decided to change the track to bang-bang.
Me: Did you notice that Batman rarely uses guns. Most of his fights are hand to hand.
Tintin: That’s why Catwoman said she did not believe in his no-guns policy, when she shot Bane?
Me: Batman wants to restore order with minimum of bloodshed. He normally wants to put criminals into jail, and not kill them.
Tintin: But they said jails were full. Why?
Me: (falling into the trap again) Jails are full because there are extremely rich and extremely poor people. When the poor are exploited, they resent. When they rebel violently, they are thrown in jails.
Tintin: (with conviction) That’s wrong.
Me: (trying for a quick course correction) That is what the movie says, but people cannot be allowed to kill innocent children. For example, even if our system is wrong, you are not responsible. Why should a terrorist kill you?
Tintin: (thoughtfully) The terrorists are wrong.
I sighed. No one really understands who is wrong and who is right any longer. Up till now such dilemmas were part of the vocabulary of the ‘bleeding heart liberal’ intellectuals. But now such questions are being posed in the popular culture by superheroes. Difficult times ahead for the next generation.
Me: Yes the terrorists are wrong. By the way, Alfred the butler was really happy to see Batman living a normal life as Wayne at the end of the movie. (I tried to draw his attention to the good ending.)
Tintin: Ye…es, but what will happen to the people who were in the prison?
I realized the movie had had a deep impact. I quickly changed the subject to the upcoming flick Superman, to avoid getting deeper into world politics and ruining the moment.
But I could not help but thinking that the movie had damned both the system and the challengers. The movie itself gave no answers – Batman could only just restore the fragile old order. It raised questions that probably the next generation will have to answer. For me, that was not a ‘good’ enough ending, but I guess, for the moment that is where we are. And in that sense it was an honest movie, definitely a cultural milestone.