Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Childhood trauma

I was talking to my friend today and she related a (horrifying) tale of how, in Delhi, she and her fellow students at a convent school would be taken, every week, to some undisclosed location and made to sing, loudly, "Friends are like flowers, beautiful flowers!!"

Now....what the hell is that? (There were more things the poor kids at that Delhi school were made to do. I will not go into that now. Or ever.)

The thing is, we've all done things like this in our childhoods that have made us what we are. Horrible things which scarred our fragile psyches and moulded our characters mostly for the worse. Another friend told me how, in high school, he had to sit through, during lunch break, the excruciatingly painful procedure of another fellow eating two bananas every day. This banana-eater(oh, how I wish he'd eaten lotuses! I could have used a cliche! Better, I could have used a cool HTML tag and linked it to some page providing a definition of the term "lotus eater." Ah, would that things were as I want them to be!) would bring, as my friend put it, a two-tiered lunch box. In one tier would be some rice item mixed with suspicious liquids. These would, on occasion, froth threateningly. In the other would be two bananas. These would sometimes be faded brown with age. The eater would now pick up one of the bananas and slowly, slowly, peel it. He would then eat the robust body of the banana, leaving a small stub(some of you out there, SHUT UP!! Stubs are no laughing matter. More on this some other day.) behind. As my friend looked on in awe at this amazing display of gourmandise, the eater would proceed to nibble at the little piece that is left behind at the bottom of the peel of the banana.

This, my friend believes, made a man out of him. After living through three years of this, he thinks those in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are pussies.

My childhood was no less traumatic. In primary school, every year, for not very clear reasons, we would be taken to the parade grounds, on Republic Day, and made to dance(yes, dance) to this horrible tune to this rather beautiful Kannada poem by Gopala Krishna Adiga. It went:-

Naavellaru onde jaati, onde mata, onde kula, naavu manujaru.
("We are all same religion, same caste, same clan. We are human beings.")

Sun blazing down mercilessly on us, no food since the breakfast at home, relentless practice before the 'real thing,' the endless wait for the idiot chief guest to arrive.....and then, as reward, we had to do ridiculous things wearing bad clothing that almost had us wishing for wardrobe malfunction(by the way, brilliant euphemism, that one!).

This is what we live through as children. This is what we endure as kids. God's little ones have it tough. No wonder we all turn out so messed up.


Nikhil said...

Sahara Pranaam!
Loved the name of the blog!(that's the only thing I've read till now,will come back soon!)
Can relate to middleclassbrahmin so much!!

aravinda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
aravinda said...

even we used to dance...
enu thavugalu matra antha beegodenu bekagilla..

Anonymous said...

he actually wrote a full fledged blog entry because of that..


Arjun Sharma said...

Yes, I did. See what your little story made me do? In the 1860s, you'd have been H B Stowe.

Veda said...

In the 9th standard we were once taken to the Bombay Hockey Association grounds where we were supposed to do a ribbon dance (not to be confused with the dance of the seven veils). We ended up standing on the edge of a hockey game waving big-ass satin ribbons while Sunil Dutt and Amrish Puri talked about how everyone played really well...

Aargh, the pain.