Growing up is a funny, messy, sometimes nasty business. No two persons go through the same motions as they grow up. Physical growth notwithstanding, the emotional differs, drastically so in certain instances. Who we are—our perspectives and our motivations, indeed, our very individuality—is but a subject of the circumstances of our birth and growing up. Our environs, whether we agree or not, mould us into who we are.
That phase, whence we mature from children into adolescents and thence into adults, never repeats itself. Time waits for none and a chance once lost, may be lost forever. I bet there are many who’d like to go back in time. Some because they’re weighed down by regrets of the past, the mistakes committed and chances lost, and others simply for sake of enjoying childhood. Whatever be the reason, I figure most of us, at one point or another in our lives, have contemplated how it would be if we could undo time.
What if the wheels of time could move in reverse, too? Wouldn’t that be awesome? Damn right it would, I say.
I wish I could go back in time. Not because I want to change its course, or even to take pleasure in it, rather to observe it—to watch me as I grew up and get to know the little girl I once was. That little girl, I am sure, lives in me, somewhere deep inside the least explored recesses of my heart. It’s in a shadow she lives, and I can’t hunt her down. It’s a dark, small corner of my heart where she resides and between growing up and maturing, I lost touch with her. I want to get to know her again.
There’s a child in us—the innocent being—who is overpowered by the burdens of adulthood.
Do you want to know the child in you, too?
Let’s assume I am back in time. Would it feel awkward too meet the ten-years-younger-me? I wonder how I would react if I came face to face with my younger self. Would I be envious of the innocence she beholds in her eyes? Wishful thinking!
Let me play with a scene . . .
The young woman watches as the wheels of time twist and turn, conveying her to a time ten or so years in the past. She catches sight of a little girl, about eleven years of age, standing alone on the edge of the basketball field as girls, mostly her class-mates, whiz pass her. One of them is bouncing the ball, her face scrunched in concentration, her eyes on the basket. She moves fluidly across the field, dodging and zigzagging her way to the goal. At the white line, she sprints, stretching her tall frame gracefully at almost unnatural angles and thrusts the ball towards the basket and it’s a goal. There’s no time to gloat, for there are more goals to make and a game to be won. The little girl’s wistful gaze never wavers from the game before her and the young woman’s from her.
The young woman needs no explanation for the cause behind the little girl’s wistful, rather forlorn visage, for she knows all too well the thoughts that whirl in the little girl’s head. She knows them, because, once upon a time, she’d lived them.
Back then, it had been all about feelings—like being caught in a tidal wave of emotions, toppling onto the waves, all but drowning. Rationality barely came into the picture. A child, but eleven years old, cannot be expected to reason. The little girl didn’t understand the reason, too, though she was not ignorant of it. Always on the other side, she knew not why she was unable to make an effort to the cross the line between her and the other girls. Fear of rejection, perhaps.
What made her so different from the others? At the time, the little girl did not know it. The young woman, unlike the girl, could well sort out the conflicting emotions beyond the scope of a child. The little girl was too shy and the other girls were too naïve to take the shyness for what it was. For them, the little girl was but another of the snobbish army brats (for sadly there are many who are prejudiced against army kids or brats as they’re called, in general). Perhaps language was a barrier, too—the little girl not yet proficient in English, and the others little better than amateurs in Hindi. It left too wide a scope for miscommunication. Having joined the school, an all girls convent in the north east, mid-session only added to the little girl’s reserve.
These were small reasons in themselves and needn’t have been barriers as such. Together, they created a wall, albeit not impenetrable, between the little girl and the other kids. The young woman, though aware of the futility of it, couldn’t help but wish the wall had not been there. She understood it could have been broken, but for some efforts on the part of the little girl. Then again, a scared lonely child the little girl was. She can’t be blamed.
Then, a year or so hence, another girl came into the convent. She showed the little girl compassion, befriended her and taught her many a things, not the least of all was kindness.
Those years, spent in near isolation in the convent and those months, spend enjoying the fruits of friendship, shaped the little girl into the woman she’d become in ten years or so. A woman, aware of her imperfections, and yet proud of herself for she’d come a long way. She knew the importance of compassion and kindness, believed in the magic only they had the power to cast.
You know the catch? The little girl was the young woman, and yet she wasn’t.
Who that little girl is? Who the young woman is? I’d rather leave these questions answered, because really, answers aren’t always the answer, if you know what I mean. Sometimes, they’re but a formality, one that I’d readily dispense with in this case. All I can say is, life is interesting, with all the possibilities and puzzles it throws at us. For instance, that little girl wanted to be a teacher, while the young woman wanted nothing more than to tell a story—a wonderful story. She hopes, to one day, be a writer.
PS: I can be serious!