I always enjoy walking along this particular path that leads from my house to the train station. It’s nothing more than a pavement sheltered by the elevated train tracks, almost unbearable to walk in the day due to the bristingly hot equatorial climate. You’ll be better off walking in swamps.
Come nightfall, the entire scene takes on a 180 degrees turn: the glare of the day falls away and is replaced by the soft glow of the yellow corridor lighting from surrounding housing estates, crickets calling to one another, the southwest monsoon winds blowing lazily, backgrounded by the clacking of the train on the tracks…
It’s a good place to lose myself in my thoughts, to stroll leisurely amid the surging crowd of commuters eager to reach home after another’s day work, fatigue straining their faces even as they pound the pavement heedlessly. Sometimes, I wonder whether they’re happy doing what they’re doing, living a cubicular existence.
I vividly recall a particular evening that happened not too long ago. I was returning home, strolling, as usual, on the pavement, surfing on my dreams when laughter pierced through my thoughts. You don’t expect laughter from fatigued commuters who are single-mindedly striving to get home, to get back to their havens. Unless a comfy armchair and a flatscreen have managed to appear in front of them, flouting all physical laws.
Well, I got my answer when the owner of that shrieking laughter ran past me. I was mildly bemused. The owner was a young child, not more than six years old? and she was being chased by, presumably, her mother. I could tell they were having fun. The mother and daughter took turns chasing each other, both giggling with delight. They were oblivious to the rest of the people around them.
When the petite mother was in the lead, she “attempted” to block her daughter from overtaking her. More laughter. Sometimes, the daughter ran ahead and the mom just walked and looked at her from a distance. Nevertheless, the kid ran back.
People stared at the mother with askance, probably. Some were bemused, like I was. And wondered, where’s the father?
When the kid started running between the mother and a guy that was lagging behind, sort of like doing a shuttle run, I figured that out. The father was behind all the while, silently looking after them.
And it came to my mind that my mom would probably have not allowed me to run like that when I was a kid. Walk, don’t run. You’ll fall if you run. I could imagine her admonishments. And how many parents are actually like that?
Walk, don’t run. You’ll fall if you run.
The mom I saw that night clearly didn’t stop her daughter from running. Even though she’s a girl, clearly the mom doesn’t mind her getting scrapes and all at the knees if she falls. There was once when the kid sort of tripped. Mom just held her hand for a while and after that, kid was back to normal, running like the wind again.
Why won’t parents say, “Go ahead and run. If you fall, I’ll hold your hand for a while. And after that, carry on running.” Don’t limit your children, don’t ruin that beautiful innocence because society will always do that for you.
Protect it, like the mom. Let your child run all the way, as far as s/he can. Even mazes will become straight when we are driven by innocence.
Your dreams are best served by a child-like innocence, your child-like innocence. Even better if you’re a child, like Laura.