The grass was thick but uneven under my feet and the trees around had grown in no ordered pattern. I was playing with the others to my heart's content in this garden - beautiful in its lushness and tall, welcoming shade. Suddenly, I was caught out in our game. Panting in the fresh air I stood, in a huddle under a huge tree, arguing with my friends to the contrary. BOOM. Suddenly, the scene washed out from vision.
It had been a dream. But as I woke up early in the morning, I could still feel the fresh crispness of the air and the refreshing greenery from my memory of the garden I used to frequent 25 years ago. Memories are to be cherished. But walking down memory lane is not always easy. They fade and blur with time, to become distant and die out.
This memory, however, is fresh as if it were only yesterday. It is one of my most comforting ones from childhood. The ambience of the green, welcoming, expansive community garden is ingrained in my soul. I still love the flash of dew drops that jumped on me as I sprinted through the grass and flowers to outrun the others in a race. This priceless memory brings back my childhood whenever it flashes in front of my eyes, even after 25 long years. This innocent memory which still lives in my dreams, your dreams, all our dreams is what connects you to the places you once inhabited.
It is the string that bonds you to your beloved city, state and country. This priceless experience is what we need to pass on to our little children. What will keep them attached to us, our house, our city and our country is a cherished dream, which will keep the strings of their hearts tightly knotted to their origins.
A child free of the "modern" gadgets of virtual reality, walking and chatting with family in a community garden, playing and fighting with friends; even organising nature walks.
A child breathing in fresh, clean air amid the greens will be rewarded with a beautiful dream for life - one that will follow him even after thirty years to fill him with strings of the past in a curative manner, as he plunges into the cut-throat life of survival. I doubt whether a child of today, busy as he is playing those so called video games, engrossed in watching mindless television shows, would ever have such memories and dreams, years down the line. And if he doesn't, he loses touch with his roots. He loses the "heritage" essential for his survival.
|One who has physical, intangible memories of his heritage will relive them for life. Photo credit: Reuters|
In the last few years, I have visited some of the most beautiful parks in the world such as Hyde Park in London and Central Park in USA. Although these are gorgeous and out of this world, they are not a lasting part of my memory. I may describe them in conversations and paint a picture of them in my speeches, but these have, in fact, not emotional draw. What remains a cherished part of my subconscious and comes unbidden to me is "my" neighbourhood garden.
They say 80 per cent creativity in this world comes from a young mind. But a mind needs fodder and stimuli to have perspectives, memories and content for creativity. A "creative" young mind becomes an endangered species if it loses out on nature, reality, community and a childhood full of experiences lived, not just seen. If childhood is consumed with virtual reality alone of the Candy Crushes, Temple Runs, reality shows and social media, the mind only learns to be interactive and engaged but with a fed source. Our own creativity is subdued and sucked out. Our instinct, our share of fresh air is lost and it is one of the biggest natural assets we can deprive our children of.
They will not "relate" to you, or the family and the locality you grow up in and eventually the country one grows up in - with an individual making their way into the "IT culture" borrowed from the Silicon Valley. For me, patriotism is about the connect one feels, irrespective of where you travel across the globe. If we do not make the effort to gift these small memories to our children - to accumulate a sense of belonging in their young hearts and minds, we will have a serious dearth of nationalists who love their nation and can work for its betterment.
The "heritage" memory that binds me to my colony and thereby my nation, is still the one of my neighbourhood park where I have spent my childhood. What we all need to do in this day and age, is just to take our children to the beautiful parks and gardens in our locality every day. Let them play, discover, make friends and explore the experiences of childhood that can never be created by the media and virtual reality and you will encourage a natural "nationalist" in the process. One who has physical, intangible memories of his heritage will relive them for life.
My request to the government is that they create such parks and gardens in all localities and communities. There are development plans for the very same and with these parks - newly created or retained, various state governments will be able to create an army of nation lovers in addition to the much needed green cover in the midst of populated cities.
An inspiring dream!