Every other day we read horrifying stories of child abuse in some form or the other. It hurts and angers. How can people be so evil? I wonder at the minds of such people who love to torture children. It is not really surprising, because humans are the only animals who inflict pain for the sake of pleasure. My friend remarked that God does not have eyes to see such actions. And there are no answers to many such questions. I remember reading in a book by Paul Theroux about child prostitutes. He writes about a little girl in a brothel. He could never forget her with a soft toy in her hand and her frightened look. What is really tragic is that these children have no childhood at all.
Memories of our childhood come to mind. We used to spend every summer vacation in our grandparents’ place. Two whole months of fun. Long ago days, but those memories are fresh. Coming to the present, our daughter was telling us about our grandson’s activities. He will be four next month. He has learnt the art of manipulation. He knows when to ask for something he desires: he is aware of the times when his parents cannot refuse him. Of course, we as grandparents think he is very clever. How do children learn this art? I remember what my father had written about getting money from his father to buy a magazine.
During his childhood (in the 1940s) my father loved a Kannada magazine called Koravanji. He writes:
“It was a humorous magazine, full of stories, jokes and cartoons. Each made you laugh and smile. We were eagerly waiting for Koravanji to appear in the bookstalls. It was priced at four annas. The present generation cannot understand this. Four annas means one-fourth of a rupee or the present day twenty-five paise. Now, the twenty-five paise coin itself is not there. But, at that time, for us children, the problem was how to get this money to buy the magazine. We did not have the courage to ask our parents for this money. But I discovered a method. My father was good at playing tennis, and an expert at playing bridge, a game of cards. There was a club, not far from our house. It was called Cosmopolitan Club. It had a tennis court and a small building with a large verandah, where the members played cards.
“My father went to the Club every evening after returning from the school. First, he played tennis. Then he climbed the steps of the Club verandah, where three of his friends waited to play bridge. They played for small stakes, one anna for 100 points. My father used to say that playing bridge without money on the table was no joy. When Koravanji appeared in the bookshop, I went to the club to watch them play tennis. I was allowed inside the Club, as the Club attendant, Mr Singh, knew me. After my father and his friends started playing cards, I did not leave. Perhaps, this disturbed my father. He called and asked me, “What is the matter?” I uttered the word, Koravanji. And he quickly gave me four annas. I left the Club and went to the newspaper shop, not very far away, and purchased Koravanji. Then, for a long time, one could see a large smile on my face. Koravanji has disappeared now. What a loss!”
Childhood, a time when children have no worries, they live in the present. They do not think about the past or worry about the future. But, for so many children all over the world there is no childhood. They become adults long before they reach adulthood. A real tragedy and so unfair.
“One of the luckiest that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood.” – Agatha Christie
My father passed away last September, our grandson was born in July 2013. My father enjoyed the company of his great grandson for two years. 🙂