Childhood Innocence

( A Joy of Life )
by Arya Bhushan

Many a literature has been created by studying the innocence of childhood. Children are not only innocent, but are also innovative, investigative and imaginative. My shelves of memory are getting filled from time to time with the anecdotes connected with the imagination of my children, nephews and nieces. And now it is my grand children, who have started adding to that rich treasure.

At the very outset, I am reminded of my daughter, when she was four years old. In India, generally, hot water for a bath in those days, was fetched by a servant, after being heated in a kettle and then mixed with cold water to bring it to the right temperature. Now we also have plumbing for hot and cold water separately as in western countries and control them by mixing in the tap. One day we heard our daughter scream, "Oh I am badly scalded. Is that the temperature for bath water"? My wife rushed to see what had happened and how badly she was scalded, only to find that she was just playing make belief with her brother, one year younger, pretending herself to be the lady of the house and he to be the domestic.

Then I recollect the time when we went to a village farm. We got there after dark. It was a beautiful evening, quiet everywhere, except for the chirping of the crickets. The air was moist and warm, full of jasmine fragrance. There was no smoke, nor were there city fumes to pollute the atmosphere. There was no din and noise to disturb the peace and tranquility of the place; everywhere it was complete darkness, except for the twinkling of the stars or the glint of the glow-worms and the fire-flies. It was for the first time that my elder son, four years old then, had seen fire-flies. He asked his mother as to what they were. On being told that those were fire-flies, he gave a very understanding nod and innocently proclaimed, "Oh I see. When the stars descend to the trees, they are called fire-flies."

Yet on another occasion, my younger son was in the same innocent age, we were motoring from India to Pakistan. As we crossed the border, one of us remarked that we were in Pakistan. The boy who was half asleep then, sprang to life and asked, "Where is Pakistan?" On being told that we were traveling in Pakistan, he was nonplused and said, "No! it was just a road."

Once I asked my nephew, pointing to the stars in the sky as to what they were? Prompt came the reply that they were lamps. On being questioned further about who lit them, his was the most ingenious reply that it was the Airplane.

I also cannot forget the occasion when one of my nieces was at our place and she put her doll on my bed beside me asking me to take care of it. As I was busy with some important work, I put it on one side, a little far away from me. Soon I heard her yell at me. "How dumb you are uncle? You have put the doll so far that the bear would take her away and eat it up."

And now my grand children are in the same magical age of fancy.

Once my granddaughter went to India. Every elderly person, a friend of mine, was introduced as 'Nana' (maternal grand father). So she thought that all Indians were addressed as 'Nana'. One day she saw some people coming down from an airplane. As soon she would see an Indian coming down she would say, "Look Mom, another nana coming."

Then, one night my grandson woke up in the middle of the night and saw the crescent moon through his window. He at once shouted, "look Mom! The moon is broken." Then one day, when he was learning his alphabets, he learned 'D' for daddy. Some one had put the letter 'D' upside down on the board. On noticing this he exclaimed, "Look Mummy! daddy is upside down."

At one time, I tripped myself and had a fall. As I had a cut on my lip, I applied a Band-Aid. The Band-Aid was pink in color. When my grandson noticed it, he quickly remarked, "So Nana, today you are wearing a pink mustache."

Topping above all was when I told him that he was 'Prince charming. He immediately replied back, "No! I am King charming."

"Is that so? Where is your queen?" I asked him. Without even a moment of thinking, he replied, "Oh! Nani (grandma) is my queen." Further he added sitting on her lap, “Nani! This is the best place to sit.”

On another occasion, he came to me and asked, "Nana are you mad?" I replied "No." He then questioned, "Are you angry?" Again on my saying no, he persisted, "Are you cross?" Hearing my reply in the negative, he questioned, "What is the difference between mad, angry and cross. It was then I realized that he was trying to find out the difference between phrases we use for the same thing.

Well! These are some of the treasures, I have kept collecting as I have advanced in age, and in that process, I have got richer and richer. No earthly riches can match the treasures that I have collected. And the beauty of it is that even the IRS authorities cannot tax these riches of mine. These are some of the joys of growing up to this golden age. I hope that the cup of my happiness would keep getting filled by my great grand children.   


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