Wednesday, August 31, 2005
A day with "little princess"
I value this gift of nature highly, enjoy kids' company very much, never let go off a chance to make friends with them. Everyone does the same to certain extent. I go one step further and try to know more about the innermost feelings of a kid. I have learnt lot of new things in the process. One general observation is that the kids are inherently fair in their dealings, unless they are incorrigibly corrupted due to some external forces. Whatever they do is not at all whimsical as it appears with a cursory look. Everything makes sense, provided we have time and patience to understand why they do what they do. I have 3 young cousines (7 to 11 yrs old) and I have come to know a lot about child psychology from them. Hence the special interest in kids. Everyone of them is unique, yet I can make out some similarities in their thoughts. I know that there is no dearth for books on child psychology, but don't want to read them, for the reason that nothing is tantamount to the joy of discovering things on my own. Becoming too philosophical?..no, I don't want to be. This post is not meant for analysis of anything. I intend to explain one of my nice experiences with a kid.
It is not appropriate to continue without giving the background of this little girl with whom I spent more than half the day yesterday, I would not like to divulge her name though. I'll call her "little princess" henceforth. She completed 8 years of existence last month. She is in 3rd standard. She is fair, tall for her age, has hair style like that of Harry Potter. She is known to me since last 11 months, but only through exchange of smiles. Her father is supposed to be a relative of mine, but he has become more of a family friend than a relative. She is an introvert, hardly talks to people outside of her home, but quite generous with smile. She enjoys nature, music, chess, sketching and preparing artistic objects. Exactly 12 days back, she lost her mother who was young and beautiful, but unfortunately not blessed with health. Her mother was a violinist who had given a few performances in the past. It seems that when our little princess was informed of her mother's sad demise, her first reaction was "Now who will help me with my music lessons?".
Yesterday, I had been to her home to attend her mother's death ceremonies. When I reached there at 11:30am, she seemed quite normal, playing with her cousine. I too played with her a game of chess, teased her a little bit..We had lunch after all rituals got over. All of a sudden at about 2:30pm, she burst into sobs. Her grandmother tried to console her, but it did not help. By then people started coming near her which only made matters worse. I tried my bit too, by whispering to her that she could practice violin lessons and I would help her. I received a merciless 'no' from otherwise sweet and calm girl. Same fate for my offer to play chess. I was almost full of tears myself looking at her condition. Finally her father was successful in stopping her from crying, but he could not make her smile return. He made her play violin. I sat next to her, sang what she was playing and put 'Tala'. She was stumbling at a few places, sighing a few times probably due to memories associated with her mother. However, she seemed to be taking notice that I was attentively listening to her and trying to correct when she went wrong.
As soon as she completed one round of practice, I got an idea and put it across to her. I reminded her of my Veena, which she had seen during her earlier visit to our house with her parents. I told her that I would be happy if she comes to our house and listens to what I play. To everyone's surprise, she agreed to come. We had a nice ride of about 5kms and reached our house. Next 3 hours was one of the best times I've ever had. We were alone for about 2 hours there, as rest of my family was still at her house.
First, I offered her some chocolates. Then showed her my Veena along with all the accessories like the sound pick-up box attached and the amplifier. Explained her the setup as best as I could. She was very curious, asking lot of questions and seemed to follow my answers. I played a few short pieces of music, that made her eyes shine and face brighten up. She smiled and said that she was enjoying it. I was relieved to see her smiling. I must admit that her smile is the best compliment I've ever received since I started playing Veena. I was not too sure how my Veena sounds to others, though I enter a state of ecstasy just by tuning and plucking a string.
Next, I showed her my music CD collections and made her listen to a violin performance. She liked listening to it, but she wanted to listen to a Veena CD. After listening for sometime she even asked me to play the same piece!! I had not learnt all those advanced 'Krithi's and hence explained her my limitations. I also explained her some basic concepts that one should concentrate on while listening to a Veena recital. I do not fully remember what all I said or she said, all I remember is the light on her face and that I was feeling nice looking at her face. It was so difficult to believe that I was with the same girl who considered me to be a total stranger a few hours back. Her smile never faded even if our conversation had several mentions of her mother. In fact she was recollecting some nice things about her mother and seemed to be re-living those moments. That is not magic, that is the power of music. It is divine, it is soothing to the mind.
I cooked something for her (I rarely do that for anyone, even if I am fully capable of it!). I watched part of a movie "Shankarabharanam" with her. By then it was 6:30 in the evening and she wanted to leave. She said she would visit me often. I dropped her home and thanked God for gifting me a cherubic little friend.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Is reading "inspirational fictions" equivalent to borrowing thoughts from them?
Just a few days back, I was discussing books with someone. I asked him whether he likes Richard Bach books; he said he has read one and found it to be preachy. He put across a question something like, "Why should I expect someone else to enlighten me with thoughts? I don't want to borrow thoughts from anyone, so I don't like to read such books". Agreed that he is entirely free to choose the books for him; nevertheless it provoked some thoughts in me. I have a different view on the class of "inspirational fictions" and I'm going to share them here.
What is an inspirational fiction? It refers to the category of books which narrate a story, simultaneously analyzing some events in it, highlighting what should reader take away from that particular event. The author does not only convey the story, but makes the reader see what he sees in a particular character or event. Most of such "advice" part is positive and so supposed to inspire the reader to think. Hence the name - "inspirational fiction", colloquially referred to as "funda book".
Reading inspirational fictions should not be confused with surrendering our thoughts and following what the author says. It should be viewed as an act of focusing our thoughts on some situation/person appearing in the book, which otherwise would have got ignored by us. In my opinion, we do not lose our identity/individuality by thinking about the contents of the book; in fact, if we do not give much thought about a book (books in general, not only inspirational fictions), it is equivalent to an act of sacrilege to the book and an insult to its author. Ignorence is the most cruel way of treating the work of an artist/writer/musician/dancer etc. One should either like them or dislike them; even disliking is a kind of tribute.
I find it nice to read such books. They trigger thoughts, thus enlightening the mind. One is free to accept or reject the author's thoughts, only after analyzing them. The author is not forcing anyone to accept his thoughts, but definitely he is forcing the reader to cogitate over it. Many a times reader identifies him/herself with a situation in the book. At that time he would not have thought about another possibility of handling that situation. But since the author has described not only the situation, but also a way to handle it, the reader is doubly benefited. Book reading not only gives joy, but also serves to enrich the mind and soul. Whenever the reader's thoughts and author's "preachings" match, there is no doubt that any reader is happy. It is natural for humans to be happy when they come across like-minded people. At the same time, there are people who enjoy being with/talking to people who don't think alike. Similar is the case with books. Hence no matter whether a reader agrees or disagrees with the author, inspirational fictions are worth reading once.
Another major thing to be kept in mind is that "Learn from other's mistakes; you can't live to make all of them on your own". When someone is sharing what he/has has learnt from his/her mistakes, what is wrong in accepting it? if the author has to write something with such a conviction, he must have experienced it or seen someone undergoing it. For example, Richard Bach was a pilot, he enjoyed his work, travelled across many countries, and saw different kinds of people. Most of what he writes are related to his life. If we are not willing to listen to what he has to say, then we are losing something, he is not.
There are several famous inspirational fictions by different authors. "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" (http://www.szepi.hu/irodalom/jonathan/jonatan2.html) is the famous one by Richard Bach. It conveys that everything is in mind. When you have passion to do something and focus your mind, nothing else matters, you will reach your goal. Ofcourse, the book does not say it in such a boring way (like I have written) and that's what makes it very special. Similar is "Little Prince" (http://www.angelfire.com/hi/littleprince/) by Antoine De Saint Exupéry. Whatever I say about the book can convey very little. One should read it to realize what it is. Everytime I read it, I get something new from that book, though it has very few pages. It is mainly about how people ignore things which are really enjoyable and concentrate their energies on most useless/materialistic objects as they grow up. There are relatively few around us who appreciate art, music, dance books etc. Paulo Coelho is another famous writer who writes only inspirational fictions. I've read 3 of his books out of which "The Alchemist" is the best one. "Veronika Decides to die" is another good book, I didnot like "Eleven minutes". I've gone through the summary of other books and they are all alike, similar to either of the first 2 books. The Alchemist becomes little monotonous and boring towards the end, but 75% of it is really inspiring. I don't think I've borrowed any thoughts from it, but I felt happy to read it, as I could relate to some principles/situations. Veronika decides to die is about Veronika who being young & dynamic, having lot of friends, still finding life to be not worth living. So she attempts a suicide, but survives and gets admitted to a mental hospital. She is told that she has only 7 days to live, and then she discovers many things about enjoying life, after talking to other people in the hospital. I won't comment about the end. If anyone tells you that he/she wants to die, my suggestion is - gift this book (ok..I'm not talking this from experience). When people are very depressed, they are strongly pulled towards negative thinking; they lose all the positive energy. Reading some "funda books" with nice stories can help such people to see the light in their life.
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