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Child is the Father of Man

Many moons ago, I was returning from India to Dubai and was at the baggage carousel at the airport waiting to pick my luggage up. The entire area was crowded and I could barely reach through the crowd to find a spot to be able to locate my suitcase. Then I saw it moving down the belt and hurriedly ran to a place that had just enough space for me to stand. I reached out to take my bag but unfortunately it toppled over and fell a couple of feet away from me. A young boy – all of ten or eleven years of age – who was standing right where my bag fell, leaned forward to pick it up. Just then, a lady – presumably his mother – grabbed him and said, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Beta chod do. Woh le legi.” (Son, don’t bother. She will fetch it.) The boy backed off, clearly embarrassed.

I observed the mother and the son. The son grinned at me sheepishly. The lady continued to look at the carousel; pretty nonchalant at what had just happened, scanning the array of luggage for hers. I was stunned – to say the least. And then I was bemused. I picked up my bag, smiled at the boy and walked away. The incident was forgotten.

Yesterday, I happened to read a wonderful story on the Humans of New York’s Facebook page. It spoke of a father-son duo from Iran. The story, through the eyes of the father, narrated an incident that threw light on the generous and selfless nature of the son – a son who put others before self. Through the father’s words, it was evident that he was proud of his son. His exact words were – “... I knew then that I was raising a humanitarian." I read this over and over again. I cried, without realizing it. I was in awe – not of the child, but of his father. Here is a great man, a fantastic dad, who knew how to raise a human being! And then I remembered the boy at the airport.

Here are two stories. Both as real as they can get. Both similar, yet so different. As I ruminate over these two incidents, I realize that children are, by nature, compassionate and loving. They know no hate. They do not know to discriminate. These qualities are crushed, most often by parents themselves. The child quells the surge of (an otherwise very natural) feeling of empathy in every gloomy situation and moves on. A dangerous sense of guilt, which later develops into detachment creeps into the child’s mind. Why did the mother at the airport forbid her son from helping a stranger? Why did the father of the little boy swell with pride when he realized his son had given away all the apricots to random people on the streets? I wish I had answers to these questions.

We live in hard times. A little act of kindness goes a long way. I wish parents today would encourage such deeds in their children. I wish they would teach their little ones to have bigger hearts and not just larger brains. I wish they would lead by example to become a better human being than just a rich professional. When Wordsworth wrote ‘Child is the father of man’, he wisely etched a very profound statement in literary history. Some of us just failed to comprehend its power.

In spite of not having been lucky enough to receive the help of the boy at the airport, I will remember his face for a long time to come. He had a heart of gold. I wish he would continue to hold on to his good nature no matter what his peers would do or say. And I wish the wonderful father in Iran would continue to swell in pride as his son keeps giving away more apricots.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Having begun my career as a copywriter, words have "rescued" me in more ways than one. The power of writing can never be overestimated. With full cognisance of that fact, I take the liberty of writing.. and hoping that I get to inspire, influence or inflame something radical in you.


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