As hostelites we are always on the look out for a restaurant where we can get junk food.. so imagine our delight when we found one where there was a jumbo combo offer with all the possible sins-- Burger with extra cheese, french fries and the all important Coke!!
While we where enjoying our meal two 3 year olds were running all around the cafe driving their parents mad. It was nice to see their endless energy and cherubic smiles. The cafe had a cake shop which had heavenly looking chocolate and pineapple pastries. The two kids soon had their noses stuck on the glass pane of the cake counter pestering their parents to buy some. Then I happened to hear something that seemed very jarring to my ears.. One of them came to her dad, held out her hand and said "Papa paise de do"!! I was shocked and very very sad. Sad that our consumerist society has become so blind that not even innocent children have been spared.
I thought of my childhood... when I was three. I did not even know what money was, forget asking for it. When I was five or so I started realizing that money was something important but also something that was my parents department. I knew that Lollipops, Five Stars, Ice creams and Barbie Dolls required money but I also knew that if i wanted one of the above, I wasn't supposed to ask for money. Life was so simple... you want a lollipop, you ask for a lollipop, and you would get a lollipop!! Not like now when we worry about our career, budget our cash flow, put chota refil in cell phone just to keep it going, wait to withdraw money from ATM till 10th so that we get some interest (which is negligible I may add!!).... our life now revolves around money... knowingly or unknowingly.
I feel so grateful to have had parents like mine... who made sure I had a "childhood"-- where my biggest worries were which flavour of ice cream to choose, making sure that my sister was not making a fool of me by giving me less chocolate and coke and devising new ways of getting rid of that ominous glass of milk.
So while my friends were busy arguing about who had the highest pocket money... I was rejoicing about the fact that I was given the freedom to be a child. I hope that the child who inspired this post, someday achieves the freedom and peace of mind that a child truly deserves.