A letter to the adults and the children, who are lost in the deepest frozen memories of their childhood, by your truly, a confused, lovable and disoriented heart.
I hope you find yourself, I hope the world does not lock you up in those memories.
It is a renowned fact that childhood is the age of innocence, mistakes, learning and exploring. It is in this stage that the child grows, and learns about the ways of the world. They learn what the society and the family choose to teach them, advertently or inadvertently. This is a stage of clay ready to be moulded and curated. The adults in their life need to be sensitive and open enough to curate an inclusive and open environment. At least this is what I would have wanted as a child, an adult who would teach me things like, my emotions are not a weakness, my sensitivity is not a curse, I can be whoever I want to be, society is for me and not the other way around. I kind of still want an adult like that, but I guess my time has long gone, I have learnt all those things, the hard way. But, now it is my time to be that adult.
The moment I saw my little cousin’s eyes droop lower, his face covered in deep grief when my aunt took away his barbie doll, which he was dearly attached to, I strolled down the memory lane when my aunt criticised me for smiling too much because it gave me wrinkles, or when my friend told me that I annoy them too much with my love. This was done under the pretence that “Boys don’t play with barbie dolls.”, “You need to act your age and as the other kids do”, or “Why can’t you simply be like other kids?”. Sometimes the ways of the world are beyond me, we burden children, mere children with thousand and thousands years of stigmas, stereotypes, predispositions, and expect them to conform and submit. What’s a barbie doll to a child? What’s a boy toy or a girl toy? What’s a nail paint to a child? What’s makeup to a teenager? What’s pink and blue? Who gets to decide which material aspect of our society should refer to which gender role? I want to scream at him and say –
“You can wear nail paint, you can play with barbie dolls, you can have braids, and you’ll still be what you are from the inside, no one gets to define your identity!”
“You don’t have to do what they tell you to be.”
“You are a free being, free to live, free to love, free to be beautiful in your way.”
But he won’t understand any of it. What he’ll understand is empathy, love and sensitivity to his needs. I ask myself, is it too much to give it to him? A gentle nudge, a loving caress, a smile, when he comes to me with lipstick in his hands, or his sister’s frock on him. And this goes for every child out there. Whatever he wants to be, whatever he will be in future, is up to him, and him alone. As Kahlil Gibran says, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” Expecting a result, why shall we dishearten him beforehand, and push him on a course which may or may not be for him? Why can’t we just be open, inclusive and sensitive enough to let a child breathe his air?
Every single child out there, every teen, every adolescent, every adult, out there exploring themselves, I just want to say, THE WORLD MEANS NOTHING WITHOUT YOU. Maybe you are lost right now, maybe you are trying to find your way, maybe this is who you are or not, whatever it is, you are as worthy of love, care, affection, and validation as everybody else.
“Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age. The child is grown and puts away childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay
Here is to hoping that childhood does not see any more deaths of people that could have been, of artists, lovers, writers, masterminds, that could have been. Here is to hoping that no more kids have to conform and submit to society. Here is to hoping that we have more and more adults who understand and sensitize children and not dogmatise them. Here is to hoping that all the broken kids grow up to love and care, despite their traumatic legacies. Here is to hoping that the next generations love their kids, for all they are, for whoever they are, and for all that they can be. Here is to hoping the society lets the children seek what they want to seek, and let them live and love without judgements. Here is to hoping.