Antique Childhood

When I see children today, I don’t always see innocence. Most of the kids today behave and talk like adults. Most of them donot talk of dolls and toys, but of movies, shopping malls , gadgets and food joints. I have even observed single-digit year olds commenting on elders outfits and accessories and asking about them, and also discussing latest movies with them.
I and my friends and colleagues today often talk now about our respective childhoods. And surprisingly,our childhood games and pranks are same or very very similar in ways more than one. Even today during lunch we were talking about the games we used to paly and the television programmes we used to watch. Some of the common games (some are girl specific) were playing house (ghor-ghor), teacher-school, marketplace, nine squares, “kut-kut”, seven stones, coconut, skipping ropes, goldspot, lock and key, run races, treasure hunt, “kabaddi”, “khou-khou”, chain, making mud cakes and decorating them, and so many more. I am sure kids today know only 10% of the games we played.

Summer vacations were spent mostly doing holiday home-works and playing. Winter vacations were spent reading books

(because in my home town book fairs come in winter) and making new year greeting cards, apart from playing ofcourse. Badminton was another feature of winter games.

There was no need to take tutions then. Unlike kids today who take tutions from prep-school itself, we used to take them from 8th or 9th standard. After coming back from school in the afternoon, we will take lunch and then forced to take a nap. My sister and myself would literally wait for 4-4.30 p.m and then go out to play with the other children of our colony. When darkness would start setting in, we would come back home, freshen up, say our evening prayers, have something to eat and then go to our rooms to our study table. We would come only sometime before dinner, watch television for sometime before and after dinner and then go to bed.

Television was restricted territory. We were only allowed for sometime before and after dinner and for special programmes like ‘Small Wonder” and “Hip Hip Hurray”. And mind you, prior permission had to be taken. And serials and soaps…a strict no-no. We were not even allowed inside the television room!! The only exception was Sundays. Starting from “Rangoli”, followed by “Shree Krishna”, “Jungle Book”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Duck Tales” and “Tales Spin”. Other programmes we enjoyed were “Chitrahar”, “Surabhi”, “Tehkikaat”, “Bomkesh Bakshi”, etc.And today’s children are addicted to soap serials even before they are born.

As we grew older, late afternoon games were replaced by badminton, table-tennis and cycling. And finally all these were replaced by tutions when boards exams became the top priority.

Seeing young children’s attitudes, behaviour and habits saddens me. It presents to us a picture of what the world is coming to. It seems children today are pre-programmed to know and learn everything. Somehow it seems it is none other than the parents themselves who are responsible for such changes. Parents today donot say a “No” to their children, donot spank or scold (beating is lost concept!), give huge pocket money without asking, leave their studies to the tutors, donot monitor their activities at all, force them into competing in all spheres of life and mostly donot rectify them when they are wrong or misbehave.

They are so many things and facets to this topic that it is possible to go on writing more and more. Some are good, some are bad. But it makes me feel that the childhood we had, the way most of us have been brought up has become distant and antique…

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