Hide the Newspaper before the kids see it!
Years back, when I was growing up, pretty much around the age of 8-10, my parents red carpeted the newspaper in our lives (my brother and I). The introduction was intriguing. Lengths of flimsy paper smeared with the blackness of mystery and withered with millions of alphabets. It overwhelmed me. I was a voracious reader. But the hugeness of those sheets made me feel almost like the transition one makes from a two-bedroom apartment to a palatial 4 BHK. My snugly books v/s rickety paper – holding which in itself was tremendous effort.
So the journey started and continued as we grew up. Whisking through the headlines gradually gave way to the news in entirety. This transcended to the Sunday special articles right in the middle of the paper. Eminent faces writing thoughts on Indian matters, global affairs, the inflation, the latest movies to trivialities – but all with one common thread. The love for knowledge, cohesiveness of understanding, peace of healthy dialogue and the idea of building a generation of succulent readers!
The newspaper entered, stayed and became an adhesive in our lives. Even if we moved locations, the newspaper walla was checked out as soon as the milk walla was confirmed. It was a ritual. The mornings incomplete without the cursory glance at all that’s printed. And post marriage, a dash of who-runs-faster and lays hands on this treasure first.
Interestingly, this coarse-kit had a different charm for everyone. Like a hidden trove of sorts! Thanks to this, my husband and I finally reached a treaty. He started backwards from Sports and I took on page 3. The front page was mutually divided and then interchanged. All this effort for a Rs. 2 bundle of sheet which would eventually find its resting place in the overcrowded almirah of dated fraternity to be weighed away in the trash man’s vehicle!!
Such was the power of the newspaper. Infact, my mother is still habitual of spreading six different newspapers across the bed and spending almost 2-3 hours devouring it till the last cursive letter on it can handle the pressure.
Fast forward –
My babies have arrived. One of them having grown up to a notch of 8. My mind rewinds to a distant memory. The ceremonial launch of the newspaper! It excites me. It’s about time - the passing on of the legacy - The baton!
It’s a Saturday. A relaxed weekend and a perfect morning – me, my son and my cuppa knowledge in hand!
I pick up the newspaper to decide what I should introduce him to. The headlines, the city news, world affairs or sports (there are obviously strong daddy genes which are showing up now).
Front page – bomb blast in Paris (oops! We just went there sometime back and he could get scared)
Below it (I could always hide the top part) – a bus runs over a kid on the road. Murder of two elderlies in their house. Terrorists enter J&K. The only normal news – supporting party threatens to walk out of the coalition govt.
My mind wonders. NOT what he should be reading.
But my will is undeterred. I move on to City news.
Rape and abduction. The goose bumps sprinkle up from No Mans’ land in precisely two seconds. What if he asks me the meaning? No, no…. I wouldn’t be able to handle this!
Sports has Oscar Pistorius being sentenced and there is a scandalising dope case to be sorted out.
A sigh and an irritant grunt later, the reality of my situation starts to dawn. And a relay of anxieties’ start to swell up in my mind.
It’s just not the same. I did not have my parents contemplating my reads (and I reconfirmed this with them). There were crimes – we have clearly not been in ‘Satyug’ for centuries now. But, we somehow, didn’t get to know about them. At least, not so evidently. At least, the papers were not full of them. At least, and maybe, those WERE better times!
I scrutinised the dinosaurian livewire again. And I was dismayed – yet again. More than the fear of my son reading about terrorists and bomb attacks and plane hijacks; was my extreme fear and uneasiness at handling the questions that would follow. As a mother, I could not, right now, get my son to evolve to practicalities of living. Not now! Not yet! His peaceful, realistic and lovingly inhabited world had to spin a few more yarns before the colossal roadblock called Life hit him!
Every other day, my husband and I run to scan the papers and hide(literally) the sheets we deem unfit to lie around the house. After all, the child is big enough to read, comprehend and pounce on me.
World leaders, change agents and good hearted Samaritans speak of these evils every day. As adults, we have hardened ourselves to hear, see and move on every single day too. We have learned the technique to switch on and switch off – filter in and filter out – empathise and yet de-empathise soon after.
If we could do this to ourselves, even after our ‘peaceful’ upbringings, then where are these new kids on the block headed out for? Are we nurturing our kids to become an emotionless, stoned, practical yet away from practice, self-centred generation?
As parents, we are giving them the best. They are truly pampered. But as a society, are we doing justice to their growth. Are they turning out to be over cautious, too aware and overtly detective-isd to judge every name, place, animal and thing in their periphery!
I am concerned. At the same time, helpless. To an extent. What’s happening in the world is happening. I can protect him for a while more. Period. I can still give him hope and concern and care when he floods me with scary dreams of his. I can still try to inculcate the culture, the oneness and the goodness of a fine human being. I CAN and I WILL. But will the world support me? Will the news of tensions everywhere support me? will terrorism support me? will selfish attitudes of competition support me? and will cut throat run to prove our egos support me? – I can only wait and watch.
For now – the newspaper is not red carpeting my house with freedom. I shall screen, scrutinise and provide. The days of yore, the hay days of eternal embrace and the days of occupying the centre table position have gone.
Adieu my fragile, rickety, slurp(y) bundle of writing. Your days of pure glory are over. You are too smitten with muck, bloodshed and dirt for my mind to find peace in you.
I shall await your revival. I will not give up. I will pass the baton on. In full fanfare! Till then – let’s just call it – The Twist of Fate!!