Friday, March 7, 2008

Glittering Prizes

My young daughter sat doodling. We were watching Team India’s Aussie triumph. My elder daughter who is into garnering trophies and does a lot from singing and dancing to playing basketball, insisted that I push the little one into a sport. It had crossed my mind that I didn’t push her enough but she’s a laid back kid and my instinct tells me that I have to simply leave her alone. She’s good at designing stuff- when she was three; she used to go around with a dupatta pulled through the leg holes of briefs on her head. She insisted it was her “long hair”. Then she cut holes in a plastic bag and wore it like a jacket. She made glasses out of a plastic covering and it was only then we realized that it could be done. Creativity grows out of boredom and if I crowd her days, she will not have time to think.

Which brings me to the other factor in my unease. Are we making monsters of our kids? In Hermann Hesse’s ‘glass bead game’ he speaks of a game taking over society until it becomes more important than life itself and until sophisticated and elitist intellectual pleasure crowds out simpler emotions like enjoyment. Are we replacing Gods who after all appeal to the higher principles in one with Achieving Success? Then shouldn’t we ask what success is? The roads of Chennai are so narrow, pollution hangs like an evil fug on Anna Salai, but every second car is a fuel inefficient monster sedan or SUV. In Alaxander McCall Shoes in his ‘Blue Shoes and Happiness’ speaks of Mercedes Benz thus: “ I would not get a Mercedes Benz even if I had the money, people would talk. Have you noticed it’s always the same kind of people who drive these cars?” [to paraphrase a bit] The moral seems to be- flashy opulent cars are driven by…you complete it.

Milton had it right, when he said, “ they also serve who only stand and wait…” So I will wait and see, what my girl will be- any way, she’ll serve, which woman doesn’t have work of some kind or the other?