Fun and Laughter
A week back, I wrote a post on the maternal instinct or the bond between a mother and her child. I believe this is the strongest bond that exists between two humans. Childhood must be about play, fun, and laughter. However, sometimes life gets tough, and antagonism creeps into the relationship. Parents are often too busy at work or just struggling to survive. The worries of the world obsess them, and they don’t or cannot give sufficient time for their children’s play.
Some may be old enough to remember Cat Stevens’ song, “Where do the Children Play?”. I never bothered about the lyrics of this song until a few years back, but if you listen carefully, you will realize it is prescient. When I lived in Gurgaon in 1995, the forest was all around. I left and returned almost twenty years later. When I returned, I found the forest had retreated. We still have large tracts of forest, but they stand, waiting for developers to cut them down.
When I moved into my home, there was almost nothing on our road. In the intervening period, the same developers filled it with concrete blocks. They constructed condominiums with gymnasiums and some green space. The builders always minimize green spaces because they can’t monetize them.
When I was a child in Delhi, every colony had parks, and we’d play in these spaces. Even squatter colonies had areas where children could play. The sounds of fun and laughter always filled the air.
Where do the children play? Many parents take their children to malls and hand them digital gadgets while they gorge themselves on unhealthy delicacies. These days are the parent’s days out, and they don’t want their children bothering them.
Fun, Laughter, and this Image
But what do you do when the sky is your ceiling, and the concrete pavement is your bed? Where do the children play? Do they have the mental space for some fun and laughter?
You may wonder where I made this image. I was at the Gateway of India. The Gateway is the place from where the last British who occupied my country left India in 1947. It is also the place from where terrorists entered Bombay in 2008, attacked several areas, and laid siege to the Taj Mahal Hotel.
I remember standing on the road, watching the child play at his mother’s feet while she sat on the road looking at him. They sat on the pavement with the Taj Mahal Hotel in the background. Rich and powerful people fill the hotel with the sounds of their fun and laughter—the poor sit on the pavement outside.
Am I an idealist?
I don’t intend to criticize the rich. They do what they must do. However, I have never reconciled to the ironies of Indian life. Smug, well-fed faces will fill the air in conference halls with solemn pledges to remove poverty. China has made considerable strides in this direction. We Indians have walked the opposite path.
Whether rich or poor, children deserve to have places where they can play. They need positions where they can fill the air with the uninhibited sounds of their fun and laughter. Only then will they be able to heal the world.
Am I an idealist?