21 November 2020

A child will give childhood, all over again


Everyone has had a childhood. Not all childhoods are pretty, made of smiles and laughter, ribbons and toys, kite-flying and paper boats. There’s wonderment. There are tears. Ups and downs. Good days and bad. For some, more bad days than good. Childhoods we have had.

Some of us have children. Some have children who have children of their own. Some don’t. Nevertheless, childhoods we have had and known, and children have we known, know and see all the time, our own or someone else’s.

And what do we see and what do we know? Each child is a universe and each child inhabits a universe that’s unique. A child will not state this truth and doesn’t have to. A child will be a child; the name of the territory inhabited is irrelevant and th
e boundaries need not be marked. Indeed, it is probably the case that there are no boundaries in the first place.

I saw a child a few months ago. She was painting a stone. A white stone. She was surrounded by the tools of her craft and the world around her work was, to put it bluntly, a mess. What came out of that mess was breathtaking. The colors, lines and the use of whites, the white of stone and the white of paint, made me stop and wonder.

I saw a child a few months ago. I saw the child play with cats. I saw the child with the dog. The child would never eat if the pets hadn’t eaten. They got petted. They got fed. They got to play. They were even left alone too, if that’s what the child felt was needed most.

I saw a child who never seemed to sleep. There was always something to do. Always some responsibility. Always assignments to finish. Always someone to talk with. Always someone to fight with. Always someone to bake cookies for, make a gift for, write a letter to.  Her everyday is made of 48 hours, it seemed to me.

I saw a child who had words and long, brooding silences. The child could argue and wouldn’t stop. Victory was simple: the last word. The child got it. The child would sometimes leave a room filled with noise, foul air and poor taste. The child knew, probably, that things clear, sooner or later. The child would go to preferred spaces, recover composure, paint a rock, make a card for a friend, listen to a favorite song, pick up a cat or check something online.

I saw a child sleeping surrounded by bits and pieces of paper, some with paint and some with words. There were soiled clothes and books. Novels and notebooks. A shawl, a bed sheet and a rag. A glass of water, a mug of coffee, a plate with a half-eaten meal, orange peel and various odds and ends.

I saw a child and was speechless. And so I wrote.

What magic wand do you wave

when with color and line and whiteness

tremendous distances you collapse

to cast in stone your heart?

Among the thousand and one

how is time for caress found

and how with infrequent and brief touch

are spells cast on cat, on dog, on me?

Is it star dust gathered and sifted

that glance and nonchalance decorate

as you flit from planet to planet

in snap-fingered nimbleness?

And how without flourish

or even painstaking dissolution

do you from vocabularies silence distill

and nevertheless so much say?

There’s a child we have been and a child we are, a child we can ignore and a child we can notice. A child who will open a window and let the light in. A child who gifts childhood. All over again.

Other articles in the series 'In Passing...':  [published in the 'Daily News']  

A child will gift childhood, all over again

Terry Nichols introduced me to amazing newspapers

Jayantha Jayamuni De Silva, a weapon of wisdom

Eyes that watch the world and cannot be forgotten   Let's start with the credits, shall we? 
The 'We' that 'I' forgot 
'Duwapang Askey,' screamed a legend, almost 40 years ago
Dances with daughters
Reflections on shameless writing

Is the old house still standing?
 Magic doesn't make its way into the classifieds

Small is beautiful and is a consolation  
Distance is a product of the will
Akalanka Athukorala, at 13+ alre
ady a hurricane hunter
Did the mountain move, and if so why?
Ever been out of Colombo?
Anya Raux educated me about Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
Wicky's Story You can always go to GOAT Mountain
Let's learn the art of embracing damage
Kandy Lake is lined with poetry
There's never a 'right moment' for love
A love note to an unknown address in Los Ange
A dusk song for Rasika
How about creating some history?
How far away are the faraway places?
There ARE good people!
Re-placing people in the story of schooldays  
When we stop, we can begin to learn
Routine and pattern can checkmate poetry

Janani Amanda Umandi threw a b'day party for her father 
Sriyani and her serendipity shop
Forget constellations and the names of oceans
Where's your 'One, Galle Face'?

Maps as wrapping paper, roads as ribbons
Yasaratne, the gentle giant of Divulgane  
Katharagama and Athara Maga
Victories are made by assists
Lost and found between weaver and weave
The Dhammapada and word-intricacies
S.A. Dissanayake taught children to walk in the clouds
White is a color we forget too often  
The most beautiful road is yet to meet a cartographer