Conversations worth remembering are not always with nutty professors and snooty CEOs of companies or with shifty politicians and creepy administrators. I’ve had conversations with cities and loved it so much that I started having conversations with every unlikely subject. This included pillows, torn bills in the bin, and paragraphs on moth-eaten pages of a book read ages back… but the conversation that went on like a serial on the telly has been the one I had with the loveliest kid on earth. That’s me. Yes, conversations with the #ChildWithin has happened in a series of scenes. Let me recount a few for you here.
Scene 01. Inside the Windsor Palace souvenir shop. Near London.
There is a lovely fluffy toy crown with all the golden stars in place. I look at it, smile and am about to move on when a voice stops me.
‘That’s a crown for the king! I want to wear it now. Now! Now!! Now!!!’
I look around carefully and whisper, ‘Not now. This is a souvenir shop and we’ll be kicked out for sure.’
‘No, I want to wear that crown. Now! And I want a picture too of me wearing that crown.’
‘Don’t be daft,’ I say firmly, ‘And no tantrums please.’
Silence for a few seconds… and then this voice that sounds so much like mine, booms, ‘You cannot move forward. You cannot buy fridge magnets or your favourite boxes with silly piles of fudge until I wear this crown. Now! Pl…e…a…s…e, I so want to wear a crown.’
‘Ok,’ I say and call Specky, my wife to click a picture of me wearing a crown. I think I am lucky I wasn’t caught in the act and thrown out for this. Fact is that I generally succumb to and happily catch the temptation bullets that the child within flings at me. Always.
I remember this kid inside wanted to hum a song once inside the American Library on Kasturba Marg in New Delhi and wouldn’t let me focus on some tough piece on marketing fundas that I was reading in the Harvard Business Review there. So I hummed and hummed loudly until the assistant librarian walked up to me and whispered, ‘I’m afraid you will have to leave sir. Now.’
‘It wasn’t me,’ I protested, ‘but the child within.’ But she didn’t pay heed though she smiled and we were great friends later and laughed over the way the child inside me makes me do everything that she herself is unable to do most of the time.
Scene 02. The cycling circuit around windmills near Amsterdam.
The windmills were fascinating. The cycling through the Dutch countryside was refreshing. Soon we reached a spot amidst the windmills where there was a cheese-making demonstration going on in one part and clogs or wooden shoes were being made. In the open space outside were a few giant clogs painted in Dutch style… these were big enough for humans to stand or sit or even slip right inside to have a short nap. I’m not sure if it was the Frisian klomps or the tourists clicking empty shoes that catalyzed the kid within but I bent my head a bit to my right and listened carefully to this voice.
‘Hey! Listen to me. Step inside any of these klomps and you’ll have a new story to tell the world.’
‘Ha!’ I said, ‘These tourists will certainly have a few more horror stories about unruly tourists from India for sure.’
‘No, no… believe me, you’d be starting a trend.’
Shut up, my friend!’ I said.
‘Sit. Sit. Sit. Now. Now. Now. In the klomp. In the klomp. In the klomp.’
‘You’re incorrigible,’ I said, ‘Let me ask Specky.’ So I asked my wife what she thought of stepping into one of those giant shoes and have a picture clicked. She had horror written all over her face and she asked if I was intent on being childish again. The Windsor palace incident wasn’t yet forgotten though it had happened three years ago.
I asked my son and daughter-in-law and they both smiled and nodded a silent yes. And so we stepped into one giant yellow coloured shoe and the child within whooped with joy!
Scene 03. Somewhere in Suru Valley near Kargil.
We were in a cab and were travelling from Kargil to a small village where a massive Buddha was carved on a boulder. This wasn’t visible from the road and we had to leave the cab and walk on a stone-strewn path between green fields to the edge of the start of a steep incline. It was here that this voice of a child within awoke and suddenly shouted, ‘Stop!’
I stopped. Specky stopped. The cab driver stopped. Even the two kids pulling a wooden cart over a broad furrow on the outer perimeter of a field stopped. I guess even the black crow sitting on the tree stopped and looked on curiously. Everyone anyway stops and stares at tourists in our country. The funny thing is that even though it was I who had stopped, it was me who asked aloud, ‘Why? What happened?’
Specky said, ‘You stopped. So I guess you know why you stopped.’ That was when I realized that the child within me had again though of some prank and I asked myself, ‘Another prank?’
‘No. Not pranks. Never. No pranks ever. These are just interludes to let you know that there is more to life than being adult. Ha! Ha!’
‘So I see,’ I said, ‘now what is that you want me to do? Sit in that cart there, is it?
‘You guessed it right. Yes, today is our wooden wheel-barrow ride day. Enjoy.’
And so I simply walked up to the boys and asked them if I could share their vehicle for some time. They were suitably dumbfounded to do or say anything. So I stepped into the cart that already had its front wheel in the furrow. The boys were sporting enough to pull the cart out on the path and give me a ride for a few yards. They laughed loudly. We laughed loudly. I guess even the crow must have laughed in its own cawing way.
Scene 04. At home with my Samsung Tab.
I have mentioned earlier that the child within has a tendency to pop up suddenly at the most unlikely moments. I remember I was sitting in my Study at home, searching for an idea to illustrate a post on new ideas when this irreverent kid inside me knocked. Yes, this kid doesn’t always speak or shout but even knocks.
‘Stop knocking, kiddy,’ I said jokingly.
‘OK. Then listen carefully. Ideas are always cranky. Ideas show and don’t just tell. Ideas are as revolutionary as the mad hatter.’
‘Ok,’ I said, ‘but this doesn’t leave me with any idea for an illustration.’
‘An idea needs to be charged.’
‘Ok,’ I said, ‘but how?’
‘Charge it like you charge your tab.’
This was too obfuscating for me and I said, ‘I have work to do. I need to search. Stop bugging me now, kiddo.’
‘Your brain has the power. Your Tab needs to be charged. Brain. Tab. Brain. Tab. Do it. Do it. Do it.’
The kid within has its own style of making me do things and so I inserted the cable into my tablet and placed the charging adapter on my temple and said, ‘Is this…’ I cut myself short because I realized that the kid had actually given me exactly what I was looking for. Obviously I got my picture clicked with the tab display showing a vector of a bulb and it remains as one of my favourite shots till date.
The child within as the conversationalist
I am no psychologist but I believe that the child within is not just a brilliant conversationalist but is probably the best judge we can dream of. Lose the child there and you risk losing sanity. This kid inside is not just the soul of wit but is the real traveller, the die-hard romantic, the ace judge, the insightful pal, and, therefore, the loveliest kid on earth for any individual. I agree with Hugh MacLeod who wrote: Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.’
Our group of 5 bloggers goes by the hashtag #NISSATalks and have decided to present five different perspectives to a single topic with a unique hashtag each week. For week 02 our hashtag is #ChildWithin and you can also read what the others in the group wrote:
15 June 2018