Parents were supposed to make the cast to shape up their children. It was customary to abide by the strict set of guidelines framed by parents, starting from accepting the type of haircut to the life-partner chosen by them, and of course without an audacity to question. But time has changed, so are our kids. They're smarter, more interactive and certainly much more inquisitive. We try to inject our children with all moral values ranging from those which we had read in moral science books in our schooldays to those we never follow.
Yes, there’s no doubt on the fact that we, the parents and politicians are greatest disciples of hypocrisy. As ‘theoretically good’ parents we preach of honesty, kindness, compassion, respect, integrity and what not, to our offspring but don’t get slightest prick of conscience when we practice bribery, rudeness, falsehood or any other ‘so called’ adult behaviors. I know your vindictive warm blood is trying to gush towards our much respected politicians, but I beg your pardon, here I’m only talking of our parental mannerisms. I’m asking for your apology once again if you consider yourself a stainless father/mother and share no murkiness which I talked of… but, in that case please give me a chance to interview you over a mug of Nilgiri coffee. Here I’ll narrate a small incidence where my son, when he was 4 years old, pushed me to an awkward situation but ultimately made me very proud gifting me a priceless moment to savor for lifetime!
We’re in a summer vacation trip to Thimpu and it was the penultimate day of our trip. As usual the day was spent lazily, strolling on footpaths and doing some ‘damage control’ shopping for those relatives and neighbors waiting in Bardhaman with great expectation… yes, I know you know what I meant. Every evening there used to be cultural program in the hotel pub. Please don’t confuse it with those hundred dance bars you find in Thimpu presently, luring with flesh show… it was a modest dance show exploiting the popular tracks of ‘Chitrahaar’ in the large drinking hall of a three-star hotel. My better half was getting ready while I was wandering with Anu, my kindergarten boy on the hotel lobby to stay away from the frustration of an expected infinitely stretchable waiting period… you know it if you’re either married or have a girlfriend. Throughout the span of that short time conversation I felt a degree of perceivable discomfort in my son’s behavior. But I never nagged for things because I knew it never worked. I just asked him with covert apprehension, “Anu, are you not feeling well my son?”
He took his hands away from my grip and nodded.
It was not his usual nod, I knew. So I lingered on, “So is Anu feeling like poohing?”
“Noh” was his strong and irritated reaction.
“Oh well, someone is sad that tomorrow the trip is going to be over?” I grinned.
This time he gave a non affirmative nod but didn’t reply. I got scared to see his pale nervous face.
“Anu, come on son… can’t you tell your Papa what the matter is?” I got restless myself but masked my anxiousness to win his confidence.
Seeing his ‘about to sob’ face I took my son in my lap and whispered close to his ear, “Please Anu… you can tell it to me”, supplementing it with gentle pats on his back.
Anu’s eyes were closed. I knew he would share his woe with his dad, so I gave him a moment of silence.
“Papa I’ve stolen this from the store today”, he spoke out the short sentence without a pause and took a plastic material from his pocket.
It was a toy-like pencil sharpener which I had denied to buy him in that morning. Really I wasn’t expecting such an incidence. For a second I remembered how we used to steal mangoes from our neighbor’s’ orchards in childhood which invited a slice of innocent smile to my face. But ‘my son stealing stuffs from a shop’ didn’t quite sound acceptable to this young father. But Anu himself had realized his mistake and gathered guts to confess it to me… what can be a better thing for a dad? Surely, scolding my son for being momentarily dishonest in childhood was not my cup of tea. I wanted to talk about the whole thing and fill my son’s developing mind with an enduring lesson.
“Oh that’s not fair my son. You shouldn’t have taken it. Thieves take things like that and they’re nasty people.” I paused for his reaction.
“Yes I have read… am I a very bad boy Papa?” Anu looked at me with a hope that in the whole world only I could clarify his doubt.
“Yes you were bad few minutes back but now you’re good again.” I was trying to keep an proper balance and mend spoiled mood.
“Papa I won’t ever take any sharpener like this… I promise…” he sounded desperate.
“Not just sharpener Anu, you won’t ever take others’ things without asking from them… got it dear?” I reframed his clause.
“Yes Papa… I promise…” the redness reappeared in his previously pale face.
“So, tell me something dear… why did you confess it to me? You could have kept it a secret right?” I really wanted to read my son’s mind and left no stones unturned.
“I was sad Papa… how could I carry it inside the bag… Ma would come to know it right… I was sad…” Anu fumbled.
“Ok, were you sad for stealing the sharpener or simply worried of how to carry it in the bag?” I was a desperate seeker of truth once again!
“Both Papa” Anu told.
“Ok my son, if your Papa agrees to carry it for you without letting your mom know… how would that be?” I winked.
“No Papa… I don’t want it now…” Anu didn’t fumble this time. Voila! I had got the answer I was looking for. Nothing more I wanted to know, or wanted to repeat. Nothing else could be peppier then.
I had told my son that next morning, before leaving for the airport I’ll secretly go back to that shop and return that stolen sharpener and he was quite content with the solution. But for practical reasons (yes, that’s where our adulthood/hypocrisy comes in) I had threw the sharpener from our hotel room balcony. I was so happy that my son had picked up a lesson from our teachings and implemented in his tender life, gifting me a magical memory to relish for lifetime! I was euphoric with the hope that he’d preserve those values lifelong… in that light mood I slapped myself and my heart taunted my mind, “Learn it from your son you spoiled brat”.