|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 42, Tuesday April 26, 2005
Passing my childhood
An enjoyable hour of fun seems like a second, and the dullest most regrettable hour seems like a day. Time alone passes by its own mysterious and hidden ways, seeming to lengthen and shorten according to our own restless moods. It passes and suddenly you find yourself sitting on the highest steps of life, struggling to keep up with your livelihood and the changing civilization. But before that time comes, you'll have to make your way through the joys and sorrows, changes and improvements in the middle. You'll have to try to learn through your childhood and learn to try as a teenager. Before you know it, you'll be looking back at those easy days when we would jump all around the house upon hearing the Eid announcement on the 10 0'clock news. In the twinkle of an eye, an infant wakes up one morning to discover s/he has entered teenage life.
On the verge of my own farewell to childhood, I'm starting to remember all those fun moments I had with my friends and family. Even though teenage life has its advantages, there's no denying the fact that the first twelve years of life is the best period. After that with mountains of homework and oceans of studying together make life very challenging. The only way to cherish those fun-packed, thrilling days is to give them a place in our hearts forever. Even though we try to remember these experiences, they slide out of our memories like sand in a cracked bottle. But everything and everyone has some bad sides. And so I also remember the misery, the losses, the sorrow and the tears. But still, I'd rather be a child or a teenager than an adult.
This first decade of momental memories starts when we are free and energetic infants, always up to mischief. None of us are able to remember that stage. Judging my younger sisters and brothers, I reckon passing the day eating, sleeping and playing is the best. They always get attention and care, and even we can't resist giving those cute little mischief-makers lots of hugs.
Even though I'm often compared with my mischievous siblings as an obedient and sweet baby, sometimes all the mischief I caused slips out of many superiors tongues. One of the most well known tales is the one where I went missing for two hours. I was drinking milk and my mother was doing a bit of cleaning here and there. A few minutes later my mother came to have a rest and saw that I wasn't on the bed. She called me and looked around the bed and under it and searched everywhere for me. Then she alerted everyone in the house, and they all began to search; every one was filled with tension and grief. They looked in the closets and cupboards, they even scanned the drawers and turned out the pillow cases and blankets. In the end, after searching every corner of and rummaging through the house about ten times like wild lions, my Dadabhai found me sound asleep with my milk bottle in my mouth inside an oversized bucket under the bed! The bucket under the bed of all places! That just shows how persuasive babies are, to make grown-ups absentmindly search for a baby in a shoebox.
We've no doubt caused more grief. Tearing up our dear mother's gold and pearl chains and necklaces one by one, finger painting aunt's x-ray reports kept high on the table; tearing pages from our elder sister's due Home Economics project, and pencil sketching elder brother's enormous and informative Biology books till the words can't be read, throwing Dada's glasses to the floor over and over, trying to break them, all were and still are active methods of trouble-making in the baby world. And believe me, in the midst of a thappor or kanmola babies get love and treats, just because they're...well...babies!
They're like entertainment experts twenty-four hours of the day. It's so much fun to just sit there and listen to their opinions and thoughts, songs and logic. Even though they are notorious at times they're also darlings at other times. Sometimes they say such funny things that you burst out laughing when you remember them, whether you're in a bus stop or even in your own living room thinking of them is a laughing pleasure.
My sister is one of those day-long-television replacements. Once her Playgroup teacher told her that she had been selected to sing in a school program and she asked her to sing a song to her. My sister replied that she would not sing because her leg hurts! She's an expert at imitation and she entertains us by saying things and copying moves and stunts that our elder brother teachers her. One of our other cousins one day went to hit my aunt and when my aunt exclaimed for an explanation she twisted her hands and said that she was just dancing. So, you see as a baby anything is possible. They'll always play an important role in our lives and they'll always be the centre of attraction to us.
But there's no denying the fact that babies are always vulnerable and they all have to be guarded to avoid accidents. In the history of deaths the most tragic deaths are that of babies and toddlers. Especially in Dhaka, in the present corruption-filled situation, papers are everyday polluted with tragic death stories. Thousands of innocent kids are starving to death, dangerous diseases haunt some and many more deaths occur all over the country. The other day a three-year-old baby was shot in the leg in the middle of a fight. Stories about children falling into buckets full of water and dying are all common to us. Through time babies have died swallowing batteries, choking on things. All these tragic deaths bring us to reality, which makes us realize that babies can have the most fun and they also carry the greatest risks of life.
The first three years of fun and misery goes by like this. Being at that age fun is guaranteed; for babies and most of the time for us. Sometimes being an elder sister or an elder brother means sacrificing precious time and energy for a sibling but I reckon it's worth it. You sacrifice for them and they'll always be willing to sacrifice for you. Even through these generous sacrifices, fights and arguments always break out through every family. Little ones always have their own tricks for getting the best out of things. Judging my sister and my youngest cousins I guess that the most enjoyable thing at that age was tailing after elder sisters and brothers, irritating them occasionally.
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