May 22nd, 2001

It was a quiet Friday evening in the Bhatt household. My wife, Teju was downstairs playing with Ritu (our spirited little toddler), and I was lying on the bed reading stories to Rohan. This was the first time I was reading a “Panchatantra” book (similar to Aesop’s Fables) to Rohan and he was listening to the stories with his normal avid attention. Rohan was just under 4 years of age at the time and not unlike many parents, I too was keen to reinforce the various lessons of life to my children.

The story I was reading that night was about an old snake that moves near a small pond in search of some food. He notices a colony of frogs inhabiting this pond. As this snake is old, he is not agile enough to catch any frogs by himself. So, this wily snake befriends the king of this frog colony.  The snake takes the king frog on his back all through the pond all day and in turn the King lets him devour one of his subjects every evening. So, in short, the King betrays his clan and at the end – becomes a meal for the snake.  After reading the story, eager to teach Rohan the ways of the real world, I asked him – “So beta, what did you learn from this story?” Rohan, without missing a beat said: “Never be a frog!”. I started laughing.

It was clear that the message was too complicated for my little four years old. However, at the same time I could not help but be charmed by his innocence. As we grow older, most of us develop mental filters to analyze our surroundings and situations. Sometime in the process of learning about life’s intricacies, we tend to forget how to enjoy it. Having learnt to read between the lines, sometimes we ignore simplicity of the message.

A child does not need much to be happy – basic necessities of life and loving parents. As we have traveled with our kids, we have found them equally happy and spirited in a small hotel room or in our much larger home. As long as we find them activities, they are not attached to any toys or other material things. No party is too boring for them and no incidence everlasting in their memories. As long as they are healthy, they always wake up spirited and go to bed content. They live in the moment and thus truly live every moment. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for myself.

Sure, learning life’s intricacies is essential to our survival and I will keep on reading Panchatantra and other books to my kids. One day, he will have mastered the nuances of human nature and the ways of the world. Having blessed with Rohan and Ritu, I cannot sometime help but envy their innocent uncomplicated lives.  If there is a heaven, can it be too different from the early years of a child? As I teach Rohan about intricacies of life, I hope that I will relearn some of its simplicities.

Himanshu Bhatt © 2001


4 Responses

  1. This reminds me of what Jesus said I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven

  2. પ્રિય હિમાંશુભાઈ
    આપનો બ્લોગ ખૂબ માણ્યો અભિનંદન
    રોહનને કદાચ મઝા પડે……મુલાકત લેજો
    બાળકો માટે રચેલા બ્લોગ કલરવ ની

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  4. Yup, I’ve a 4 yrs old daughter and I tell you, I learn quite a bit from her day to day activities, e.g. being patient. A few months ago, I was reading her a “Panchtantra” story, every time when the story ends, before even I ask her what she learnt from the story, she would say with a smile “ખાધું પીધું ને મજા કરી…”. As simple as it can be!

    Tell you the truth, I personally enjoyed “rereading” of Panchtantra book myself at this point in my life and I don’t think it’s irony.

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