Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Quest for the Extraordinary

Ask any parent about their child and without doubt they would narrate at least 4 or 5 stories about the exceptional qualities that they had seen in their kid. Parents make you feel special by doting on you and constantly evoking few clever things you did as a child and would lose no opportunity to share it with anybody who cared to listen. I am not saying its wrong. Its their need, I guess. When love, praise, attention is so freely showered on you, it is but natural for you to think you are a gift from heaven to the mankind, that you are here for something big. And if by chance you are something of an above average student or a topper in your class/school then you are bound to become a 'favourite' with many teachers, who are supposed to be non-partisan. Thats when you begin to see yourself as different from others. Thats when the suspicion, the notion that you were born for a mighty purpose acquires more weight. You, then, more than anybody else await for that moment when something extraordinary about yourself gets revealed to the whole world to gape and admire. Parents in the mean time are happy with whatever you are doing and still consider you the best of the rest. And then they marry you off and you give them a grand child. Now the whole cycle starts all over again. The parents trying to see in their child something exceptional they failed to see in themselves and the grandparents discovering those remarkable qualities in their grandchild, talent and attitude that they did not even observe in their children(1). So a genius is nurtured once again in the hope that someday he/she would make justice to what he/she has been endowed with. 
Ufff.. I will tell you why this came about. But before that can you tell the difference between a child psychologist and a mother? Okay. This is my take. While the former believes that each child is unique and special, the later feels and knows that her child is unique and special!

PS: This came about because I am reading Sartre’s Words, a retrospective record of his first 10 years of childhood. Long ago someone had suggested that I might like Sartre, because I admired Kafka very much. But I found that his novel –I tried only the first of the trilogy- was too complicated for my few grey cells. I picked up Words from a second-hand book shop recently. And this book is indeed extraordinary. More than the book I guess, his childhood was special. I don’t understand Sartre. Even this book in which he is writing about his childhood leaves me many times bewildered (I have not completed the book, yet). He read Gustaev Flaubert, Victor Hugo and 'wept with joy' after reading Jules Verne when he was around 7 or 8 years! I don’t think I used to read anything apart from Chandamama and Amar Chitra Katha when I was 7 or 8. I was fascinated with stories. Stories were important and not how it was told. I used to read Vikram-Betaal stories and would try to answer the Betaal's question, if I could, before reading the king's answer. That was fun because it felt like a quiz. But weeping with joy after reading a book, as a result of reading a book came much much later. That feeling of exhilaration when you know that you have read something great came later, may be during the early college years. Sartre, may be, prepared himself for an extraordinary life from his early years.

(1) What Madhur Bhandarkar did with Chandni Bar was just the opposite. Remember the closing lines which went something like this ' I wanted to see my future in my kids but what now I am seeing is my past (I don't exactly remember the Hindi words though in Hindi its far more touching and hard hitting).

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