Monday, March 17, 2014


Recently I saw a short film which touched a chord in me.
The film starts byshowing an old man and his grown up son sitting on a bench in the lawns of their house. The son is reading a newspaper and the old man is staring at the emptiness in front of him. Suddenly he hears a sparrow chirping nearby.
He asks his son“what is it?”
Without turning away from the newspaper, his son replies “It is a sparrow”.
Every time the sparrow hops in a different direction and chirps,the father repeats the question. The fifth time when the old man asks the same question the son gets up from the bench and screams at his father, `How many times should I tell you it is a  Sparrow..Sparrow…Sparrow.`
Offended by his son`s outburst the father gets up from the bench, goes inside the house and returns with a small diary. Opening a particular page in the diary he asks his son to read it aloud.
Son reads, “Today my three year old son asked me 21 times the same question, `What is it?;` pointing to a sparrow in the garden infront of our bench. Without getting angry I hugged my innocent boy affectionately every time and told him it was a sparrow`.
The son realizes his mistake and hugs his father and gives him a kiss.
The film set me thinking about the innocence of children and the innocence of old people!
I was attending a workshop for a small group of aspiring authors as a resource person. My qualification to be a RP was that I already have three books to my credit. The workshop was organized by a good friend, (whose entirefamily was involved in this). His two daughters aged 6 and 11 were also participating in the workshop.  As a part of his talk he was advising the participants about certain “Don`ts”
His six year old daughter who was listening intently interjected innocently` But Appa, you make all those mistakes every day!’. While the participants had a hearty laugh, my friend did not know where to hide his face. He quickly changed the topic and went ahead with his discourse.
Last month my sister`s grand children – six years old twins(a boy and a girl) were in Chennai to attend their uncle`s wedding.  Both are intelligent kids, as most modern day children are, but the boy is far more talkative than the girl. He kept bombarding adults with questions or expressed his opinions on any topic under discussion. His general knowledge is amazing for his age!When he was introduced to the new bride and was told that she is a medical doctor he looked at her from top to bottom and declared `You are too young to be a doctor. I will not accept you as my doctor`. The new bride was dumbfounded!
I remember my eldest grandson, when he was 4 years old (now he is 17) used to make fun of my computer illiteracy.  He would say,“What Thatha, you don`t even know how to operate the computer. Come I will teach you how to play games on the computer”.
I am sure all of us have faced such situations in life. And envied the children for getting away with innocent statements they make without worrying about the impact of their comments on the listener or the consequences of their innocent actions on others.
While today`s children may continue to be innocent on many counts, thanks to the general knowledge they gain watching the TV or surfing the `Net, you cannot take their innocence for granted. Adults cannot get away by giving evasive answers to often embarrassing questions from children. Unfortunately today`s parents/grandparents are ill equipped to handle such children because of their own limited knowledge on a variety of topics.
I know of an old couple in their eighties, both suffering from poor eyesight and hearing problems who have become a burden on their children because of their inability to communicate properly and to look after themselves leading to constant tension in the house,resulting in their getting constantly admonished by the son and daughter-in-law.
People say that as you grow old, you become as innocent as the little children, making comments and observations, totally out of context or irrelevant to the situation, that you cause embarrassment to your near and dear ones, invariably leading them to say that you have become senile in your old age. They refuse to accept that you have become innocent in your old age.
Youngsters will do well to realize that old people deserve the same understanding and tolerance that is shown to innocent children.
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