“When things spin out of gear,
When kids’ tantrums mommy can no more bear,
She innocuously instills scare and fear,
‘Sleep sleep my dear, lest the ogre is near’.
The mind that is thus smeared,
Will dare not bother mommy’s near.
Oh yes! Fear is inherited from one’s near and dear.”
- How would we have been if we never knew of things ungodly, faces ugly, demons squiggly?
- What if movies never had the genre ‘Horror’?
- …If none ever added the words Bhoot, Phantom to our mind’s unspoken vocabulary?
- …Or more importantly never told us what they (hypothetically) mean?
We would not have known them….
…We would not have feared them…..
…No one would have been scared of ghosts, stupefied into a hair-raising suspension, afraid of an unknown evil that makes staying alone miserable. It would have been up to ones self to experience the existence or non-existence of the evil, but not fear or even know it before it happened.
‘You don’t know what you don’t know’, pronounce the words of wisdom. So, how mature is it of our mind and self, who has not itself seen the ghost, to use it as a petty change for scaring a child, just so that he minds you?
‘Is it wise to be penny wise?’ has been long answered in the negative.
I dedicate this to parents and well wishers of a child, who unknowingly and UNTHINKABLY introduce him/her to the fear of devils and ghosts. And I assume, by this I am addressing almost all parents and concerned, because I am yet to know of an adult who did not know the legend of the bhoot, right from his childhood.
And what set the mood for such a rant? Well, the movie Hobbit. Do not scream “What??” before you read below.
The day of the Hobbit
A day off with my long-standing friend and her 3-year-old watching ‘Hobbit’ was an eye opener more than a cinematic revelry for me. The 3D version, aside of being more graphic, was also in-your-face, quite literally, as you could feel all the rocks and boulders and twisted shoulders of ugly faces with their mouthgasms reeking over your nose.
“Isn’t she scared?” I asked, pressing down the goose bumps on my forearm, while gesturing at her 3-year-old, who was completely unaffected (or unmindful of) by the intermittent at-times-hideous-and-sometimes-frightful-scenes of the movie, looking them in the eye, as if daring the exhibits to play on her lap.
“She does not know ‘ghosts and horror’ yet”, replied my friend, very matter of factly.
Although my friend is usually a low pitch soft-spoken, this one sentence, quite astoundingly, reverberated so loud within the hall that only I could hear it. It screamed of so many things in one go, at a decibel level, perceptible only to the ones susceptible (to hearing it). Through my ears, it made its way to the recesses of my mind and began unburdening it… ripping apart sheaths of prejudices my mind was laden under.
It then shoved its hands further inside and dug out some exact take-aways that are ‘up for grabs’, whenever you read on the power of your subconscious mind or when you occasionally bathe in motivational springs, to scrub off your filth or shrug your body off its bitter cold stiffness.
From there it began to choke my throat, till the time my parched self began to scorch. ‘How long before the refreshments’? I thought. And is if acting on cue (you bet, cinema ignites theatrics in everyone) it gulped down a glass of guilt down my oesophagus which also strangely chilled my spine. A cerebral rumination was now let loose. Some nerve-racking jugglery of my intellect was at play and I began thinking hard – ‘How unbecoming it is of us, to pepper the clean, to stain the young brains with our own biases’.
By now the voices in my head notched higher and as if coming from a trumpet, started blowing some clear thinking over my crown – ‘A child’s mind is a tabula rasa, and more often than not the sketches etched upon it by the so-called grown-ups, are (dis)credited to the child’.
Amidst all this heightened awareness I wanted it to conclude. Waiting for my Eureka moment I finally hit the jackpot when I understood the simplicity of it all – ‘A child who has not YET been scared by his/her parents or others, does not get scared! Period’.
Before I could rest on my laurels at the fine discovery, the sounds in my mind were gagged by a memory, which was the most vivid of all childhood memories I had warehoused. I patted it for its match making as it echoed the same cause I was fighting for and also struck at the most opportune hour. Let me serve it to you all, ad – verbatim…
When I was six
Like it is customary of every child’s bed-time story-time, my brother and I lay wrapped around my mom’s love handles to savour the daily (or if I may put ‘nightly’) dose of fiction. The only difference being, for some reason sleep dodged us that night. The narcotic in the stories that had always morphined us to sleep, worked quite the opposite that night and had us stimulated instead. The result – Instead of being lulled, we screamed Encore!
My mother, much like an artist not prepared for the repeat act and wary of fatigue from over performance thinks of diverting the audience to someone more mystique than himself, orchestrated – ‘Its time you both slept, or else Kala Baba will sneak in from the window’. She even dramatised with effects and how the Baba would part the curtains and scare us to sleep.
– Moms i tell you are the only masterpieces that are also seasoned artists
The bait did work. It cringed my wide open eyes into darkness and finally to sleep.
And this is how I was introduced to kala babas and ghosts !
Soon after the introduction was over, the casting rolled, the movie began… and has been playing since, unabated like the Mumbai rains. Except that the movie is not seasonal but occasional. Over the years it has waned in its impact though, knocked down by ‘logic and education’. But when the couple naps at the same time, it springs aboard, conjuring imageries here and there.
That epic movie day I also got to know why this particular memory was the one I remembered the most graphically. None renders itself so skilfully as fear does, I deftly attributed it to. And when we are talking children, it means no kidding!
I also replayed how bewitching it was once to see an ‘uninitiated to fear 2-year-old’ chasing a cockroach and not the vice-versa. How the child nonchalantly hung the roach by its end and also to its end. It was surely not the baby fat that lent the child a helping hand but a fearless mind.
‘Let’s not misconstrue this to mean that we should not stop the child from all things bad’, I reminded myself, ‘but rather remember that a bait might trap the prey but cannot tame it. It only ruins it! You cannot tame anything with fear – you only havoc it.
So refrain and not chide, make aware and do not scare. And as far as the ghosts and demons go, why mention them at all? To what end?’
And with this I hit intermission and watched the latter half of the movie, completely getting why the child was so playful still.
‘Hobbits’ do have a way of bringing out the child in you.
After the movie, I swore never to frighten my 19 months old. In the same breadth, I asked the below from every parent or a child’s well wisher…..
Let us be wary of being scary,
Let us spark and not spook.
For the creative adult is the child who survived,
Let’s not have imbeciles as nubiles .
Let us not ALWAYS hand-down the chalk,
Let the child learn its walk.
Let us not for our seconds-of-comfort be mean,
Let us keep the slate clean!
Nisha is a mother of a 19 month old who revolves her world around him. Currently leading the marketing for a world renowned cruise brand, she has an experience of 6 years as a marketing professional. She writes for the love of life and blogs some of her works. You can read her blog here http://nishakaps.blogspot.in/. Her other interests are theatre and dance which are currently in limbo for the love of time. She tweets @Timepassthings