Couple of years later I got my stack of inland letters that I could use to write letters to my friends and relatives. I wrote regularly to my chachas and mamas.
When I grew just a little older, I was allowed to roam freely on the streets of my locality with my neighborhood girl friends and I would savour the local gol gappas and tikkis almost every day.
In my teens, I made it a practice to make cards for my girl friends and carefully place the cards in a keepsake box that they had gifted me. That keep sake box is one of the most treasured items for me now.
Making glass and thread paintings, stitching dresses for the hand made dolls and teaching an imaginary class of students while being a self-appointed teacher were just few of the things I spent my childhood with.
Now I am a mother of a five year old girl. I wish she could spend her childhood a tiny bit like the way her mommy did – in a carefree, compassionate and contented way.
There are myriad of things I want my child to experience.
I want her to feel the curves of the words on the hand written letters. The joy of playing on the cobbled, narrow streets where anyone passing by also spontaneously becomes a part of the game. The strength one gains while falling and failing during the task of learning something new. The pride of creating things at a tender age. The experience of living in an extended home where the entire street is like a family with too many chachas, mamas and mausis.
The list goes on.
|Even when she was injured, I didn’t stop her evening walks in the garden|
But even despite trying for such naturalistic upbringing, I know I falter many times. I become over protective that can be easily translated into being anxious.
I do not easily let her go to my neighbour’s house for a play. I fear molestation at the hands of their helper.
I do not let her play all by herself in the park of our campus. I fear accident by cars that often zoom by.
I gifted her a cycle that has two supporting wheels on each side because I wanted to save her from the bruises, similar to the ones that I had got in my young age. I am proud of the way I learnt cycling without any body’s help but when it comes to my daughter, I want to be there with her, besides her in whatever she does.
I understand times have changed now. And time has moved faster than I expected. My way of protecting her from the harsh world is a result of the ever-increasing crimes against children and especially young girls.
In my times, I knew I was not safe entirely. I could be molested then as well. BUT I knew that I would get immediate help from the passersby at the first shout. I knew I could seek help from my neighbours in case a stranger barged into my house. I believed I would be safe once I entered the streets where my house was located.
I wish my daughter could feel that safe, atleast among the people she knows and can trust.
I wish I could give her a world that is safer than the world that I had.
I wish I could give her the assurance that not every man who touches her has a maligned intention.
I wish I could tell her that once she ties a rakhi on a boy’s hand, he would treat her as his real sister and she could trust him too in return.
I wish I could tell my little girl that the world is not as bad out there as it sounds on TV and seems to appear on newspaper.
As a kid, I hardly knew what the word ‘pretty’ meant. I thought anyone who I liked was pretty enough to be liked by me. Barbies had just made an entry in the market and they were relatively expensive so I still played with my rag dolls that had various shapes and sizes and colors. I wish
I could now teach my daughter to place more emphasis on behavior and less on ‘pretty like a barbie.’
|(getting dressed (and obsessed) with modern make-up, barbie inspired tactics)|