It doesn’t matter how old you are, just don’t let the child in you be forgotten
By Manjulaa Shirodkar
For all that the society is undergoing radical changes on an everyday basis across the spectrum, if you look at us Indians culturally and socially, there are some norms still which are considered ‘more becoming’. Count among them be ‘a little restrained’,‘little quieter’, ‘laugh softly’ and ‘sit properly’ -especially so when it comes to growing up girls and women.
Listening to these comments, you would agree we are stuck somewhere in the medieval times, more so if you observe the growing intolerance and increasing cases of sexual assault being reported on a daily basis. Indeed, its very easy to advise women and girls to ‘hold back’ – lest they be thought too ‘forward’ or ‘advanced’ or too ‘forthright’by some. Not only because ‘its unsafe for you, girl’, but because everyone finds it tougher to rein in the boys!
But without elucidating social, cultural mores of the macrocosm, here’s looking at some things more personally. I recall some friends who went exercising in the local park not so long ago. And the personal trainer encouraged them to try and climb trees! Yup, just one of those things.
While no one raised a brow when the men (read boys will be boys) took a shot at the tree nearest to them, everyone was a little skeptical when this mother of two (on the right side of 40 too)hitched up her tracks, tucked in the loose T-shirt ends, took up the challenge and did just that – she climbed up quick and agile as a cat only to realise that getting down wouldn’t be a breeze.
And yet, its an example of how out-of-the-box her action seemed to those around her. She had not only been up for the game but uninhibited too. I don’t think it even crossed her mind to say ‘No’ to her trainer. Meanwhile for those with them, it turned out to be an exercise in some harmless fun. Stuck up there amidst laughter and ideas on how to come down, am sure she must have contemplated not to attempt anything so ‘silly’ again.
It also served as a reminder of how restrained we can be once we ‘grow up’ and how its perceived to be ‘silly’ if we attempt something child-like. The steel fencing around the park served as an analogy of the mental blocks that hold us back. We can choose to be confined or choose to scale those blocks, move up and ahead. Unfortunately, most of the time we choose to remain behind the bars – sometimes real, other times imaginary.
Don’t chide yourself for being uninhibited. Its not selfish to find meaning in what you love.
Our instinct is to run but we prefer the sedate walk. We desire to laugh out loud but make do with a smile or a muffled laugh; as adults, we choose our friends with caution not gay abandon – probably because we have been betrayed in the past; we want to get into a relationship but not before we have looked over our shoulder first.
When did this cautiousness become a part of us? When did it surreptitiously sneak up on our happy, uninhibited selves to tie us down and do what the world expected? We shy away from these little joys mostly because the voices in our heads are louder than the whispers coming from the heart.
Somehow, its people around us who begin to take charge of our lives, and our smallest decisions. We start getting governed by ‘what will they think’ rather than what is it that I want! Once in a while, its important to give the world its due but frankly if doing something brings you joy and happiness without hurting another is it not worth walking down that road?
It is for this sole reason that this friend who scrambled up like a kitten with a dog on its heels, needs to be applauded, not reproached as being silly. Its important to be silly once in a while, or you’ll never know what the view is from ‘up there’. The true joy of life lies not in the complicated but in simplifying everything. Break down the complex, and stay in the moment, live that moment completely.
For those still with me, of course, she made it back down after a few minutes and is raring to go climb another tree! And she really doesn’t care a fig about what you might be thinking! BTW, her kids love her for climbing that tree… after all, she is now a ‘heroine’ in their school too!
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Manjulaa Shirodkar (nee Negi) is an established film critic and author, having worked in leading national publications. She is also a Film Selection Committee member for various film festivals.