Sunday, June 05, 2005

Memories from childhood

This weekend we visited some friends of ours down in Colchester (which is about 150 miles from Shrewsbury). They have two sons, aged 4 and 7, and a three-month-old baby daughter. All the kids were adorable but four-year-old Douglas took a real fancy to me and Pete. Seven-year-old Joshua and I played a lot of football - he liked being the goalkeeper.

Although Douglas talked non-stop, a lot of his prattle went over my head, so to speak, but the bits I did understand and respond to made me suddenly see things from a little person's point of view - that is to say, it brought home the fact that kids take things literally! Metaphors were no use when talking to this little guy... when I told his mother that I just didnt have green fingers (I'm not a natural-born gardener), he immediately checked my hands to see which fingers were green - and wasnt too impressed when he found that they were all brown. Neither I nor his mother could make him understand the expression.

Once you're an adult, it can be fairly difficult to put yourself in the shoes of kids (for starters, they would be a very tight squeeze - heheh)... difficult to think like them and to see things they way they do, simply because you know more, you can think logically and rationally (or so one hopes), and you have the benefit of hindsight and experience. So you would know, if you saw a movie, that the events in it are not real. To a child, though, every scene no matter how illogical or fantastic, is abolute, unquestioned reality. That's how I like to explain away certain incidents from my childhood that I remember - moments when I recognise myself for the silly kid I was then!

Incident one - I think it was probably the very first movie I saw in a theatre. I'm not sure how old I was. Dont remember the movie either, but I know the hero was Rajesh Khanna. The movie could have been "Haathi Mere Saathi", assuming it was Rajesh Khanna starring in it. Anyway, I was SO caught up in the plot that during a fight scene, when it looked like my hero was getting the worst of it from the villain, I distinctly remember jumping up from my seat in a state of serious excitement (and anxiety for Rajesh Khanna's fate) and yelling "Hit him Rajesh Khanna, HIT HIM" at the top of my voice. Much to the embarrassment of my slightly older friend who pulled me back down and hissed "Shut up, it is not real!" But it was to me.

Another movie that I sat and watched with bated breath (this time with my parents) was a Tamil one - "Nizhalgal", unless there was one called "Nizhal nijamagiradhu"... if not, that phrase was just the teaser for the movie. Anyhow, I didnt know that another meaning for the word "nizhalgal" is "dreams" - I thought "nizhal" just meant "shadow"... so I sat wide-eyed with anticipation throughout the movie, expecting at any moment to see a shadow becoming real - something like a ghost, perhaps. There never was a more puzzled child at the end of the movie, because the whole thing didnt even begin to make sense from my viewpoint. Where was the shadow that was supposed to become real?

Did that movie ever go over my head or what!

As a slightly older person - again, dont remember how old I was, but it was that age when you take the printed word at face value. Interviews with movie stars, etc, where what you read is what you implicitly believe is what the star really, truly means from the bottom of his/her heart. I guess I had never heard of publicity gimmicks or the tendency of film stars to always lie like rugs (exactly like politicians). Ah, innocence...

So, in all the innocence of untested childhood, I read a movie rag which had an interview with Nazia Hassan, the throaty singer from Pakistan, now long deceased, and her brother Zoheb. I'd just seen Qurbani, I suppose, and "Aap jaisa koi" was my favourite song then. I thought Nazia Hassan was the most beautiful woman in the world and Zoheb the most handsome. And when I read that she didnt consider herself pretty and her brother Zoheb teased her for being "ugly" - well, I was more than ready to rise up in her defence! In fact, I even wrote her a letter saying that I thought her the most beautiful woman ever, more beautiful than Zeenat Aman (!) and Zoheb was a mean guy to call her ugly. Too bad I didnt have an address or I would probably have posted the letter...

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