Imaginative worlds are peppered with idyllic fantasy; should we get real or enjoy the beauty of our dreams? Sep 24, 2012
Sitting in the lobby of Shikshantar’s middle school block, I see before me an array of illustrated poems composed and drawn by children in Hindi to celebrate Hindi Divas, which comes on 14th September each year as that was when Hindi was adopted as the Indian national language. The story of how that has turned out in a nation that speaks and writes dozens of languages and dialects, we all see. But what has struck me this morning is the recurrence of certain themes that inspire children. Nature in many forms- seasons, creatures and flowers- is a constant subject of fascination. Why is that? Considering these are created by urban children who live in a concrete jungle with manicured lawns and terrace gardens as their only exposure to nature. Another recurring theme is raja-rani. The world of royalty- palaces, luxurious lifestyles intertwined with adventure, romance and power. Again, how do kids who are born in a democracy to parents who have never experienced monarchy in any form, keep returning to this theme?
Are we influenced by an idea that there is a certain innocence in themes such as nature and in stories about princes and princesses? Our folklore and children’s stories are full of these themes. For young children, more urban contemporary stories are still rare. Does it then take many generations of a changed lifestyle to be inspired by the changed environment? Or will we continue to dream of a world full of magical forests as we continue to destroy the real forests we have on earth? Are our works of creation or the way we adults inadvertently influence the creative work of children really wishful in nature rather than a reflection of reality?
Many works, of course, among both children and adults do depict the realities of our times. Aadyaa draws multistorey buildings often, not the typical hut. Udai draws planes and machines but is struggling between his need to reflect reality and draw more romantic themes like rural landscapes that he does not really identify with.
Isn’t that the true conflict for all of us. We all spend our entire lives attempting to reconcile the realities (often ugly and unpalatable) with the world of our dreams and aspiration (always in contrast beautiful and serene). I try to see beauty in the reality and find flaws in my dreams at times, but that’s just twisted old me!