The circles of life


Arshid Malik

When we were kids, we were just that, kids. What else could we be, when the creator had bestowed upon us such a blissful period of life, a period when we had no worries, no salaries, no wages, no work hours, no routines, no burdens to shoulder and no years to count. Life was one continuum of mirth and joy. It was a jingle, a song, a melody, a brook that only took its course. And we had parents who would stop us from having all the fun in the world and we “hated” them for that in a loving kind of a way. We, children, were on this side of the divide, the carefree and freewheeling side, and they, our parents, were on the other side, the careful, overdriven, over-ambitious, protective, worked-out, tense side.

Little had we little ones known that one day we would grow up and land on their side of the divide. Had it occurred to us then and there, we would perhaps lived better and had more fun while we were at it and perhaps we would have behaved better and harboured some compassion for those grownups destined to be out parents. We would have somehow connected to the fact that we were “absolute pests” and our parents were no “exterminators”. But life is a different story altogether and childhood years never return.

Parenthood is a difficult lesson that everyone has to learn. It is a treatise of being in itself. It is the bitter truth that children would never ever care to swallow, like we never cared.

Once you step into parent life, once you have kids, you realize, all of sudden, all the things you hated about your parents as children and all the things that you were never willing to understand are so very different, so very true and undeniable that you start cursing yourself for “cursing” your parents all the way round for their “attitudes” towards you when you were young.

Facts start falling into place as childhood fantasies start recollecting under the tender shadow of the tree called parenthood. First of all the childish “I could never go wrong” notion deserts you as other implied derivatives of pre-adolescent life run amok under the pressure of adult, parenting life. You start living the problems and hardships your parents faced while you were young.

Reminiscing under the overburdening gamut of parental undertakings that I face with a single kid, I feel sorry for that part of my life when I was a nut yet to crack and associated realizations. I empathize with the fact that I was totally ignorant while I believed that I knew all the tricks in the trade. I feel bad about all the moments in my childhood life when I felt bad about something that my parents asked me to abstain from for my own good.

I pity myself for eating all the dirt that I did as a kid as the taste amused me and would like to spank myself over the fact that my parents always cautioned me against it and the fact that I always ignored them, eventually driving me into those terrifying de-worming sessions.

I would love to slap my childhood self, given the chance, over the fact that my parents always told me to watch television in a more civilized manner while I stuck to it like an over amused ape and resultantly had to wear spectacles and have been putting up with the utter discomfort ever since. I get headaches over all the embarrassing situations I landed my parents in while I was a total “tiny jerk” and wish I could turn back time and rework the patterns to bring some comfort to my parents.  

As a parent I have realized that going gaga over every pink, green and lady blue is a part of childhood but keeping track of the gaga and finding the pink, green and lady blues for your kid is real toil. I have realized over the years, as my son grew up, that parents are kind souls no matter how hard they get on you and that they do everything out of pure care.

Today when my kid comes home crying after having hurt his knee while attempting all those “do not try these stunts at home” I grow furious. When I used to do the same while I was a kid I would never understand why at all my father would get mad even though I was bleeding, but today I know it is a lapse that parents never could afford – there is a sense of insecurity involved; “why couldn’t I keep my child from getting hurt”; “where was I”; “what was I doing”; “why was I not there”; “couldn’t I have taught him better”; and the eventual “what am I going to do now” that just jumps to the parents mind on seeing the red splattered across the tender skin of the child. It is a mixed emotional reaction that children never comprehend till they grow up and have kids.

But then this is life – a multi-coloured scaffold of things gone wrong. Kids getting over parents and parents getting over kids are the penultimate circles of life.

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