I recently came across this Parle-G advertisement reminding grownups that childhood is the most educative period of development for children and curiosity is their best teacher. I really liked the message because I believe it to be so true! I have worked and interacted with children in abundance; and as a counsellor and special educator I have found that children are, very often, discouraged for asking a lot of questions, and frowned upon when they try doing things out of the ordinary. As adults, we forget that children are still to learn the ways of the world and it is our job to allow their creativity to flow freely.
As an adult, I still feel we can learn a lot from children. The Boy On The Plane is an article I had written some time back and posted on my Facebook page. I am just re-posting it here and I hope you enjoy reading it.
THE BOY ON THE PLANE
I am not a big fan of travelling by air. I find flight journeys to be rather tedious and boring...Had it not been the fastest means of reaching any destination, I don't think travelling by air would ever have been my first preference.
Although I always insist on sitting by the window-seat, there really isn't much of a view for the eyes to feast upon. Of course sitting on the window-seat has its advantages - one is not endlessly disturbed by the co-passengers who always seem to want to get up and go to the loo or to grab things out of their bag; and if some co-passenger is not interesting enough, one can always rest one's head against the edge of the plane and pretend to catch up on a few winks of sleep. The latter is sometimes applicable in my case for I've had my share of creepy co-passengers who've attempted to strike rather weird conversations with me!
Flying back to Mumbai from Kolkata, I wasn't in a very good mood. Not only was I leaving a day earlier than I had intended to (thanks to the proposed Bharat Bandh) but I hadn't really got the opportunity to enjoy my stay at home with my friends since all of them seemed busy preparing for exams!
Despite arriving late at the airport, I did succeed in getting hold of the last window-seat. Thank God for small mercies! I only prayed, now, that I did not get stuck with some creepy person sitting next to me. Once I boarded the aeroplane and was seated comfortably with a book to read for passing time, a flustered mother with her five-year old boy, came and occupied the two seats next to mine. The boy was sitting in the middle row while his mother occupied the seat closest to the aisle. He was extremely noisy and fidgeting a lot. "Oh no!" I groaned inside my head. I had no wish to get stuck with a young, talkative boy! Don't get me wrong - it's not that I hate children but I don't like having them around all the time!
He glanced at the book I was reading and blurted, "This book has no pictures! Why would you read something like this?" I sighed. I was reading Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. I wonder what meaning he would have made out of that young boy's statement, I mused. I did not know what to reply so I merely smiled at him. I think he mistook my smile to mean that I was willing to listen to him, unlike his mother who appeared to be rather bored and was scolding him constantly, asking him to behave himself. "Hello! My name is Deep...This is my first trip by plane! I am going to my maasi's house in Bombay. Are you going to Bombay too?"
"Deep, do not ask stupid questions! This plane is going to Bombay - so all of us on this plane are going to Bombay," his mother reprimanded him. "And do not disturb Didi...sit quietly." She, then, turned to me and apologized, "I am sorry. His name is Debashish..Deep is his daak-naam." I gave her a polite smile and assured her that her son was not disturbing me.
As the flight took off, Deep (or Debashish) started giggling. When his mother gave him dirty looks, he told her that he could feel something funny in his stomach as if things were tossing and turning inside! Despite myself, I grinned at his statement. Here I was fervently praying that the journey should end soon and this boy was savouring each and every moment!
Since I was sitting by the window, once the seat-belt sign was off, Deep unfastened his seat-belt and started staring at the clouds. He started visualizing objects out of the different shapes of the clouds and asked me to join him in 'discovering' more things! I was, at once, transported to my childhood days - I remember I used to sit on my terrace and do the same thing (I still do it sometimes!)...I joined him, and, together, we managed to identify a rabbit, an ice-cream, a triangle, a teddy bear and even Doraemon!
It was an evening flight and once the sun set, the blue canvas of the sky was strewn with beautiful splatters of pink, orange and purple hues. As Deep and I started admiring the view, he yelled at his mother, "These orange and pink shades are not there in my crayon-box...There are so many colours! You will have to get me a bigger box with all these colours!" He pestered me when I was not able to name all the different shades of colours that could be seen at that time (I now understand the plight of some of my friends who fail to understand what I mean when I say 'coral red' and 'delphinium blue') and although I was irritated with his constant questioning, I was awed by the wondrous Mother Nature and her beautiful creations.
As we were descending and the landscape was in aerial view, I pointed down to the rivers that could be seen below. "It is in the shape of a 'S'!" exclaimed Deep. "Yes, " I replied. "When you grow up, you shall learn that this S-shaped pattern of the river is called a meander," I continued. "Wow! Ma, did you know what a meander is?" Deep asked. His mother gave me a rather cross look. She did not seem happy about the fact that I was encouraging him to ask more questions! I was thoroughly enjoying myself so I ignored her expressions and I continued to show off a bit of my geographical knowledge as we saw hills and water-bodies.
It soon, grew dark and as we approached Mumbai, the City of Dreams, greeted us with its well-lit roads and we could make out the cars that were stuck in traffic on the road and some that were moving. Deep was very happy to see this view from the top and his face was glowing as if someone had installed a 1000 watt bulb inside him. When we landed, his face had the same delight it had had at the time of take-off. "Ma, this was brilliant! We shall only travel by planes from now on...Bye Didi!" These were his last words as we got off the plane...
I had enjoyed a flight journey thoroughly after a long time...Perhaps, it is better to see things from the eyes of a young child in order to view life with rose-coloured glasses. Only the young, innocent mind truly appreciates the wonders of the natural surroundings. As we grow up, we tend to start taking most things for granted...No matter how old one grows, one should never let the child in them fade away - That would lead to all of us having a mundane existence. Although I have never succeeded in becoming a prim and proper adult and there are times when I still am mesmerized by the things around me, I needed Deep to remind me to experience each and every moment with the same degree of amazement so that I can indeed live life to the fullest! I hope that through the narration of this incident, even you are inspired to just look out of your window, stare at the sky in front of you and just bask in the glory of the great world that lies in front of us always!