Thursday, October 21, 2004

Song to be Sung by the Father of Infant Female Children

I figured out something when I was twelve years old. I was a bright, precocious brat with a simple view of the world. I figured that elders (anyone who was older than me) had nothing to offer me as far as knowledge was concerned. Considering I was so young, this notion might look childish, but today I can add the weight of a decade of experience behind it. In my humble opinion elders have not been responsible for a single bit of knowledge in my head – either it was already there and I just needed to discover it or else I was smart enough to figure things out on my own. Elders may have played the role of a guide in some of the discoveries but given enough time I would have stumbled upon those hidden springs of knowledge on my own. A very egomaniacal thought but I stand by it.

However, it is a completely different ballgame when it comes to learning from younger people. I firmly believe that we grow dim-witted as we grow older. Our thoughts start following a fixed pattern and we lose the gift of being amazed and excited by life around us. No wonder even our imagination takes a big beating at the hands of age. And creativity, don’t get me started about that. As children we have so much potential and we lose it as we grow older.

Any new thought/idea/knowledge that has entered my brain has been through people younger than me. And so I had the other great revelation at the age of thirteen. I needed a younger sibling – a little baby girl who would enlighten me about the truths of life. Never thought about having a younger brother because I expected he’d turn out like me and the world couldn’t handle two of us. The sad part was that if my theory of transfer of knowledge from younger to older brains was true even for others than I would contribute zilch to the mental growth of a younger sister. At least I would be able to play the protective elder brother who beats up any punk that comes close to his little princess. I imagined I would make a very cool elder brother. As fate would have it I remain the only child of my doting parents.

And hence I come to the next more crucial point. My mental growth is now almost stagnant; it has remained so for the last couple of years. I have come across younger men and women who have contributed to my intellectual growth but it has happened in small bursts spread sporadically over time.

That little baby girl is very elusive. Someday she will wake me from my intellectual dormancy. Till then ...

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
Contrariwise, my blood runs cold
When little boys go by.
For little boys as little boys,
No special hate I carry,
But now and then they grow to men,
And when they do, they marry.
No matter how they tarry,
Eventually they marry.
And, swine among the pearls,
They marry little girls.

Ogden Nash

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