To wake up on a Saturday morning before the crack of dawn, is not something that I am particularly fond of. But last Saturday was different. I was up, much before the alarm buzzed at 6.00 am. Mister woke up after snoozing the alarm several times in a row and only after it dawned on him that the silhouette under the pale light of the zero-watt bulb, was not just an outline; his wife was standing beside the bed ranting her morning chants staring at him. What can I say? Men will be men!
Our 7-year-old was performing on the stage for the first time and in that sense, it was a special Saturday. We were supposed to reach school before 8.00 am. She was playing the character of KAA, the one known for his Serpentine hypnosis in the famous play The Jungle Book. Like all other parents we too were beyond excited to see our child perform.
Somewhere the excitement also had to do with the fact that it was after a huge and unkind 2-year long gap, we could finally see our children the way they were supposed to be. Frolicking in school together and in the process learning a thing or two about life.
Upon our arrival, we (all parents) handed the children over to their teachers and were asked to wait in a room. The waiting room was abuzz with electrifying and elevated energies as if we weren’t parents but children ourselves! So far, we had only interacted with each other through class WhatsApp groups. Now that we were in the same room sharing apprehensions about our kid’s performances, discussing the summer vacations, the preposterous fee hike, and sharing jokes on the pandemic years, life once again seemed normal. And something to be grateful for. We finally saw each other like individuals and not some name that had been flashing on our mobile phone in the last 2 years. We finally saw how a person looked when he or she smiled, and it was so much better than the smiling emoji he/she used to send each time there was a goof up in the class wats app room. How time teaches us things in the most uncommon places!
An hour later we were hushed into the auditorium. It was time for the children to perform. Parents pulled out their camera phones, some their DSLR’s and waited with bated breath for the drama to unfold. Two years is a very long time. Especially for kids this age who unfortunately had lost their most crucial formative years to the pandemic. As parents it was unnerving to see children take time to mingle around with their classmates and to find a streak of under confidence in them during practice.
Clearly, we had underestimated our kids, as they managed to surprise us in more ways than one. For starters, physical school started for them in March and them being ready with such a performance in April, was an incredible feat. As the play neared its end there was something else that caught everyone’s attention.
Sometimes the wolf mother would forget her part, sometimes Mowgli, and sometimes the other animals in the jungle followed suit. We already had a rough idea of what their dialogues were and knew who forgot what. As a result, we would inevitably smile or whisper in each other’s ear something or let out an almost muted laughter. It wasn’t that any of us were making fun of these little kids. No. None of us would do that. But it all seemed so endearing and adorable to see these children look into their co-performer’s eyes for a clue to the forgotten dialogue or just the way their eyes searched for their teacher in their most difficult moment. And what followed next stole our hearts.
The moment an animal forgot his/her dialogue, all the Bagheera’s, Baloo’s, Raksha’s, Kaa’s, Mowgli’s and Sharekhan himself, would come to his/her rescue. Thanks to the mikes on stage, we parents could hear all the prompting that was going on.
It was the most magnificent display of camaraderie that my eyes had seen in the recent times.
A month ago, when the practices started, my daughter and I would rehearse together on some evenings. I would pretend to be Sharekhan or Mowgli, both characters with whom she was going to share the stage. She would say her lines and I would say theirs. There were times when she would reprimand me like this:
Mumma no not like this. Mumma this is not your dialogue.
Mumma you are supposed to growl.
Mumma you are a Mowgli. You have to cover your face and hide it from me.
And I would just rubbish it off by saying:
Listen you remember your dialogues. Don’t bother about what others are doing and how they are doing it. Just focus when you have to speak and play your part well. It’s all that matters.
Honestly, I was just too worried about how my child would fare on stage because stage fright is a normal occurrence. It never occurred to me that it was a good thing that my child had the entire play etched in her mind perfectly.
As I watched these children leading each other, whispering the next line and holding each other’s hand, it all made sense. And I will not lie. I felt a little guilty too. Of telling my daughter what I told her.
Look at the irony! I am happy she didn’t pay heed to my words!
Now as I sit down to share THE JUNGLE BOOK episode with you, I also want to share my two cents on life that I learnt from it.
If you think you can live your life like an island. Think again. Paddling the rough waters of life with someone to paddle along makes the sail easier and much more pleasant. When you raise your son or daughter, do not tell them to just do their own thing or to focus only on what they want to do. Don’t tell them that the other person does not matter. Because it does. Teach them to see and experience things visualizing the bigger picture. Talk to them about camaraderie and companionship. And how these are the defining parameters of a life well lived.
Much like the animals from THE JUNGLE BOOK episode, who worked together in unison making sure everyone played their parts well, however insignificant it may be. Making it one big happy Jungle.
PICTURE CREDITS: WALLPAPER CAVE