This’s Not Your Child’s Playground!

A few years back, I think around three, I visited a historical monument in Delhi with my parents. It was a pleasant winter afternoon, & nothing better than a walk in the warm sun. The monument was Humayun’s Tomb, the resting place of the Emperor & his kin.

I am a history buff. I doubt if there was anybody in my circle who studied History as ardently as I did. ‘Studied’ is the incorrect word. The term ‘study’ brings to mind something done for the purpose of getting a high score, rather than to something done due to an active interest. I read History textbooks as if they were fiction novels. It also helped that the teacher was excellent, who did not believe in memorising History, rather understanding the ‘why’ of it.

So, all the stories of Humayun came rushing back to me as I stepped into the compound. Pausing to read the guide stones, pausing to soak in the Mughal architecture, & pausing to imagine how life would have been back in those days. Such was the value of life & of death that elaborate tombs were constructed to commomerate the dead.

The place had a lot of tombs, of varying sizes, & spread out throughout the compound. In one of the smaller enclosings, there were tiny tombs. It appeared they were tombs of children. A sad sight! But what was sadder was the jumping around on these tombs by a few kids who had come to visit with their parents.

They were noisily walking on the tombs, jumping from one side to the other, & desecrating the entire place wearing footwear. In India, in any place of respect, people typically take off their footwear. In India, people also forget to treat public property as their national property. Public property is treated as a dustbin. These historical monuments are meant for lovers to inscribe their names on the ancient walls, or for the tramps to make them their homes, or for perverted men to carry out their perversions behind bushes & trees, or for families to come for a ‘picnic’ & leave litter behind.

With the civic sense I have, I, at times, feel I am born in the wrong country. Here, even educated people behave as if ‘civic sense’ is Greek to them. When combined with History, it was the last straw for me. I exploded & asked the mothers of the kids to rein them in. They had the cheek to tell me that they are kids & kids are meant to play. (“Ab bachche to khelenge hi na!”)

Even in retrospect, this makes me angry. I exchanged a volley of words with them, before my mother whisked me away. I was shaking with anger. I normally keep to myself, & avoid confrontations. But this was a situation where I could have delivered a few physical blows as well. A parent needs to tell a child about the appropriateness of actions & places. But, for that, a parent needs to herself/ himself know about it. A parent should inculcate values of respect & awe for history, and civic sense. But, obviously, the parent needs to have it in her/ him first.

A parent should rein in the child, if the child is being a nuisance. & if the parent cannot rein in the child, then please leave the child at home. & if you cannot leave the child at home, then you please stay back yourself. & lastly, if you cannot do any of the above, I do not think you deserve to have a child. In any case, do not mess with my national property.

Anger is bad. No. It is good. It helps you channelise emotions. I am glad I could give a piece of my mind to somebody that day. Out of that bevy of women, even if one got hit by what I said, my anger was fruitful!

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