by Varun Gupta
During a class on the theme of ‘Me and My Family’, I had a discussion with the children about their life’s aspirations, their wishes and dreams. Almost half of the children gave the following responses.
“मैं अपने परिवार को खुश रखना चाहता हूँ”
“मैं अपने भाई को रिमोट कण्ट्रोल कार देना चाहता हूँ पर मेरे पास पैसे नहीं है”
“मैं अपनी मम्मी से कभी दूर नहीं जाना चाहता”
“मुझे मम्मी को, पापा को खुश रखना है”
“बहन को खुश रखना है, पूरे परिवार को खुश रखना है”
“मुझे एक बड़ा सा घर चाहिए, ताकि मैं और मम्मी-पापा और बहन उस घर में रह सकें”
“अपने बहन-भाइयों, मम्मी के लिए घर खरीदना है ǀ उनको खुश रखना है”
I am quite perplexed by these answers. It makes me feel both happy and sad. Happy because it shows how much love and concern they have for their parents and siblings. But it makes me sadder because they didn’t speak of any aspirations or dreams for themselves. They talked of the happiness and wellbeing of their families. But they wouldn’t say what they want from life, what they aspire to be. Maybe it just so happened that they were not able to articulate their dreams and wishes clearly. Or maybe they do see their happiness in terms of their family’s happiness.
I understand that at this young age, their aspirations might not have taken any concrete shape and so they didn’t have much to say about it. But even when I asked them what they wanted to have, what they wanted to purchase or to play with, there was no reply. I was baffled by this silence. Why don’t they want to have anything? Children usually do. Does it have something to do with the condition at home which inhibits their growth, development, dreams? Is it the harsh daily reality they are exposed to which does not accommodate or allow dreams to flourish?
I can understand that life can sometimes be too harsh or unfair. But can life ever be so discouraging that we stop dreaming? I am thinking of that magical thing which makes people believe in dreams, encourages them to pursue their aspirations, and makes them believe in the power of sincere hard work and determination that helps us achieve anything. Is it that there aren’t enough success stories or role models in society which can keep alive these dreams? Or do we get entangled in the question of ‘how’ so as to forget to dream about the ‘what’?
I have come to realise that aspirations, dreams and hope make up the oil which keeps the light burning in our lives. In this context, as parents, we have a huge responsibility to encourage our children to keep dreaming, to care for their dreams and aspirations, and to provide strength and support to them so these can be fulfilled. Parents’ love, affection and trust work like tonic for children. Their words can either make or break the child’s confidence and ability to dream. Sometimes, we become so habitual in catching them doing something bad that we forget to see their goodness, we forget to take note of the special things they are able to do.
The same may be the case of teachers and adults in society. As a teacher, I need to look more into this, make space for their dreams, and take the required steps to see their aspirations accomplished. We need to nurture and sustain these dreams, we need to help everyone believe that they can fly, can do anything, can become as they wish.
Varun is an IAAT PGDLT Fellow currently working at the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Hauz Khas Police Colony School