Early memories … What is it about them that brings a slow comforting smile to our faces? When my mom and dad talk about their childhood days, they have this soft smile on their faces – as though remembering something tender. The things they did as children, the era that was, their childhood friends – thinking or talking about it never fails to bring on the “smile”.

On one of our evening walks, my parents told me about how they  and their siblings walked back from school together with friends. As I mentioned earlier, there is a railway track that they had to cross before reaching home. There was also a path to bypass the tracks. The elders at home sent them off with a stern reminder to take the road which bypasses the tracks.

But you know how it is with children. They conveniently forget. At school time one would see lot of kids walking the tracks – competing with each other as to who lasts the most on the track. Thank goodness there weren’t any tight rope acts around or they would be on that too!!

All the kids, deeply concentrating on the tracks, forgot to look out for people who wouldn’t miss a chance to tell on them. As each child reached home, a whack or two eagerly awaited their bottoms.

Next day the same old routine began all over again…. 🙂

When amma told me this, I was astonished. Nobody would dare to do that now, least of all little kids.  Appa said back in those days, it wasn’t really all that dangerous, because you could hear a train coming from miles away. Today, you hear a train come only when its a kilometre or two afar. I smiled to myself – look at the logic of these two defending their acts of mischief from years ago. 🙂

Anyways, all the talk about memories made me wonder about mine and in particular my earliest. I always knew my earliest memory but I keep pushing myself to think of something earlier than that. I guess that won’t work unless I am hypnotized! 😀

Thinking about my earliest memory is always like seeing it happen in the most sweet and angelic way. One afternoon my mother has me on her lap and we are sitting in the verandah. I must have been 2.5 years old and I start playschool tomorrow. She says, “Phaayi tu ek chaanga schoolantu vatta. Nave boooku, baaga, water bottleh, pencils sagga ghevnu vatta. Teacher astali and bhornu friends astale…. ” (Tomorrow you will be going to a nice school. You will have new books, bag, water bottle, pencils to take to school. There will be a teacher there and friends too…) The magic of her words get lost in retelling this incident but when her words ring in my ears, I feel like I am two and half again. She must have said more but I don’t remember any more of it. Just these tender few moments when my mother prepared me for my first day in school… 🙂

Sweet first memory isn’t it? Now I am all ears to hear yours!

Since the last couple days, I have been thinking – why all the hullabaloo around education? What was the original need for education? I am pretty sure it wasn’t for fat paychecks. Seeking education began when a need for knowing more to help more arose . Almost everybody is educated to some extent in today’s world – yet very few show signs of being truly educated.

A recent incident which happened in Bangalore will explain my point. One morning we were held up in a massive traffic jam at Banerghatta Road. A few minutes later, we heard the wail of an approaching ambulance. My sister as well as some other commuters steered their vehicles with great difficulty to make way for the ambulance. To our shock, we see not the ambulance but callous two wheelers and even a couple of cars rush to take up the cleared out space. The ambulance had to wait again.

Where did  the so called education go? Everyone was in a hurry to reach his/her place of work and did not spare a thought to the suffering soul in the ambulance. Who knows, the guy in the car might have been a PhD holder but doesn’t this act of his put him in the hall of shame? How can education obliterate one’s vision and not widen your sense of obligation to humanity?

A couple days back, my father happened to talk about an extremely educated person he knew who advocated high principles and morality to all and sundry. But when push came to shove, this guy called up the local police station asking them not to hassle a friend of his who was caught on the wrong side of the law. I wonder from which angle he sees himself fit for moral education?

Remember the stories that we read as young children – of princes and princesses being sent to gurukul? They not only lived austerely but also served their teachers loyally. Mathematics, sciences, weaponry and the religion weren’t the only classes they took. Lessons in humanity, tolerance and empathy were deeply ingrained in their education too. No wonder, ancient India was far far better – there was no competition and hence people did their best and encouraged their peers to give their best too. Today, if you don’t squash your intelligent subordinate right away, you can be sure as hell he will be your boss tomorrow.

Religion is another perplexing scenario where the well-educated choose to stagnate in the murky waters of ignorance. I am pretty sure none of the religious books of the Hindus, the Christians, the Muslims, the Sikhs or any religion for that matter  have any verses which quote intolerance to other religions. Our Gods weren’t crazy. Yet, somewhere down the way, we started to leave our rational mind right outside the gate when we discussed religious issues. How does it matter what religion we belong to? All of us have 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 hands, 2 legs, one big heart and a brain to use, don’t we? How different can we get?

Education has lost its purpose if it has not made better persons out of us. Thankfully, there are a precious few who by their actions restore some sanity in this insensitive world of ours. I am proud of one particular sunshine who is a world-class professional and a humanitarian to boot. Here is her simple account of how she made a difference. You may not have the inclination to take up a cause but as long as you are humane, I would say you are among the forerunners in the fight for keeping the flailing spirit of humanity alive! And of course truly educated too!

Sixer!

November 5, 2009

Jack and Jill went up the hill

to fetch a pail of water,

But they came down with a Sachin

and gave him to me forever!

😉 Okay okay, that was crazy! But what can you expect on a 6th anniversary if your sweetheart is not sharing the day with you? 😀 Madness, right?

For the light of my life, wishing you a very very Happy Anniversary! 🙂

I have always wanted to write stories. But it is just difficult to write at length about an imaginary person. Anyhow, here is one  short story I fabricated  for you to garland or brickbat! 😀 Please feel free to let me know what you really think!

Awakenings

It always waited for her happy moments to taunt her – when she laughs out loud, while beholding something beautiful, listening to a joyous song or when indulging in delicious repast. It came to remind her of her fragility. She cannot survive alone even if her life depended on it – it said.

The happiness that she felt just a few seconds ago flies right out  before her very eyes. As though, they weren’t meant for her. Sadness settles comfotably on her soul. She goes quiet. It is a while before her group notices her sudden reticence. When they do, they ask “Whats wrong?” She murmurs, “Nothing.” They dig a little more, getting concerned. “Just leave me alone. It has nothing to do with you”, she snaps. They gasp at the unexpected meanness and back away. She regrets it immediately yet is too self absorbed to apologize.

She is by now shedding unseen tears. Such nights she lays awake, pitying herself, wishing things could have been better. Why her? Of all the people? She is seen as weak and dependent on others. She could have been someone famous, she could have been going places if not for her fragility. Such thoughts sends her hurtling downwards till she hits rock bottom. While she sits in the darkest of the pits, looking for somewhere to go, she realizes the only way out is up. She searches for inspiration and the wise old poet, John Milton’s God doth not need either man’s work or his own gifts: who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best comes immediately to her fettered mind.

The quote sets her free. What she is going through is not easy, yet she takes it on and has kind words for all. Isn’t that something to be proud of? Doesn’t she do her best to wish everyone well, pray for the best for everyone, even for the people of the world? Another person in her shoes might have crumbled, yet she did not. Everyone has a price to pay and this is hers. Given sad moments suck but they make happy ones look happier, don’t they? She sees all the people in her life, the health and wealth blessed on them, the peace and prosperity in her little world. Her heart finds a new song to sing and with a smile playing on her lips, she enjoys her new train of thought till  she drifts into welcomed sleep.

She wakes up next morning and is treated to a glorious day. She thanks God for the little reminders He sends to value all that she has. And with that, she is back on her feet to face the demands of life.

PS: Those of you who liked the quote from John Milton, can see/listen more here. Now, about those feedbacks … 🙂