My five years’ old daughter Mini cannot live without chattering. I really believe that in all her life she has not wasted a minute in silence. Her mother is often vexed at this, and would stop her prattle, but I would not. To see Mini quiet is unnatural, and I cannot bear it long. And so my own talk with her is always lively.
One morning, for instance, when I was in the midst of the seventeenth chapter of my new novel, my little Mini stole into the room, and putting her hand into mine, said: “Father! Ramdayal the doorkeeper calls a crow a krow! He doesn’t know anything, does he?”
Before I could explain to her the differences of language in this world, she was embarked on the full tide of another subject. “What do you think, Father? Bhola says there is an elephant in the clouds, blowing water out of his trunk, and that is why it rains!”
And then, darting off anew, while I sat still making ready some reply to this last saying, “Father! what relation is Mother to you?”
“My dear little sister in the law!” I murmured involuntarily to myself, but with a grave face contrived to answer: “Go and play with Bhola, Mini! I am busy!”
The window of my room overlooks the road. The child had seated herself at my feet near my table, and was playing softly, drumming on her knees. I was hard at work on my seventeenth chapter, where Protrap Singh, the hero, had just caught Kanchanlata, the heroine, in his arms, and was about to escape with her by the third story window of the castle, when all of a sudden Mini left her play, and ran to the window, crying, “A Kabuliwallah! a Kabuliwallah!” Sure enough in the street below was a Kabuliwallah, passing slowly along. He wore the loose soiled clothing of his people, with a tall turban; there was a bag on his back, and he carried boxes of grapes in his hand.
I cannot tell what were my daughter’s feelings at the sight of this man, but she began to call him loudly. “Ah!” I thought, “he will come in, and my seventeenth chapter will never be finished!” At which exact moment the Kabuliwallah turned, and looked up at the child. When she saw this, overcome by terror, she fled to her mother’s protection, and disappeared. She had a blind belief that inside the bag, which the big man carried, there were perhaps two or three other children like herself. The pedlar meanwhile entered my doorway, and greeted me with a smiling face.
So precarious was the position of my hero and my heroine, that my first impulse was to stop and buy something, since the man had been called. I made some small purchases, and a conversation began about Abdurrahman, the Russians, the English, and the Frontier Policy.
As he was about to leave, he asked: “And where is the little girl, sir?”
And I, thinking that Mini must get rid of her false fear, had her brought out.
She stood by my chair, and looked at the Kabuliwallah and his bag. He offered her nuts and raisins, but she would not be tempted, and only clung the closer to me, with all her doubts increased.
This was their first meeting.
One morning, however, not many days later, as I was leaving the house, I was startled to find Mini, seated on a bench near the door, laughing and talking, with the great Kabuliwallah at her feet. In all her life, it appeared; my small daughter had never found so patient a listener, save her father. And already the corner of her little sari was stuffed with almonds and raisins, the gift of her visitor, “Why did you give her those?” I said, and taking out an eight-anna bit, I handed it to him. The man accepted the money without demur, and slipped it into his pocket.
Alas, on my return an hour later, I found the unfortunate coin had made twice its own worth of trouble! For the Kabuliwallah had given it to Mini, and her mother catching sight of the bright round object, had pounced on the child with: “Where did you get that eight-anna bit? ”
“The Kabuliwallah gave it me,” said Mini cheerfully.
“The Kabuliwallah gave it you!” cried her mother much shocked. “Oh, Mini! how could you take it from him?”
I, entering at the moment, saved her from impending disaster, and proceeded to make my own inquiries.
It was not the first or second time, I found, that the two had met. The Kabuliwallah had overcome the child’s first terror by a judicious bribery of nuts and almonds, and the two were now great friends.
They had many quaint jokes, which afforded them much amusement. Seated in front of him, looking down on his gigantic frame in all her tiny dignity, Mini would ripple her face with laughter, and begin: “O Kabuliwallah, Kabuliwallah, what have you got in your bag?”
And he would reply, in the nasal accents of the mountaineer: “An elephant!” Not much cause for merriment, perhaps; but how they both enjoyed the witticism! And for me, this child’s talk with a grown-up man had always in it something strangely fascinating.
Then the Kabuliwallah, not to be behindhand, would take his turn: “Well, little one, and when are you going to the father-in-law’s house?”
Now most small Bengali maidens have heard long ago about the father-in-law’s house; but we, being a little new-fangled, had kept these things from our child, and Mini at this question must have been a trifle bewildered. But she would not show it, and with ready tact replied: “Are you going there?”
Amongst men of the Kabuliwallah’s class, however, it is well known that the words father-in-law’s house have a double meaning. It is a euphemism for jail, the place where we are well cared for, at no expense to ourselves. In this sense would the sturdy pedlar take my daughter’s question. “Ah,” he would say, shaking his fist at an invisible policeman, “I will thrash my father-in-law!” Hearing this, and picturing the poor discomfited relative, Mini would go off into peals of laughter, in which her formidable friend would join.
These were autumn mornings, the very time of year when kings of old went forth to conquest; and I, never stirring from my little corner in Calcutta, would let my mind wander over the whole world. At the very name of another country, my heart would go out to it, and at the sight of a foreigner in the streets, I would fall to weaving a network of dreams, –the mountains, the glens, and the forests of his distant home, with his cottage in its setting, and the free and independent life of far-away wilds.
Perhaps the scenes of travel conjure themselves up before me, and pass and repass in my imagination all the more vividly, because I lead such a vegetable existence, that a call to travel would fall upon me like a thunderbolt.
In the presence of this Kabuliwallah, I was immediately transported to the foot of arid mountain peaks, with narrow little defiles twisting in and out amongst their towering heights. I could see the string of camels bearing the merchandise, and the company of turbaned merchants, carrying some of their queer old firearms, and some of their spears, journeying downward towards the plains. I could see–but at some such point Mini’s mother would intervene, imploring me to “beware of that man.”
Mini’s mother is unfortunately a very timid lady. Whenever she hears a noise in the street, or sees people coming towards the house, she always jumps to the conclusion that they are either thieves, or drunkards, or snakes, or tigers, or malaria or cockroaches, or caterpillars, or an English sailor. Even after all these years of experience, she is not able to overcome her terror. So she was full of doubts about the Kabuliwallah, and used to beg me to keep a watchful eye on him.
I tried to laugh her fear gently away, but then she would turn round on me seriously, and ask me solemn questions.
Were children never kidnapped?
Was it, then, not true that there was slavery in Kabul?
Was it so very absurd that this big man should be able to carry off a tiny child?
I urged that, though not impossible, it was highly improbable. But this was not enough, and her dread persisted. As it was indefinite, however, it did not seem right to forbid the man the house, and the intimacy went on unchecked.
Once a year in the middle of January Rahmun, the Kabuliwallah, was in the habit of returning to his country, and as the time approached he would be very busy, going from house to house collecting his debts. This year, however, he could always find time to come and see Mini. It would have seemed to an outsider that there was some conspiracy between the two, for when he could not come in the morning, he would appear in the evening.
Even to me it was a little startling now and then, in the corner of a dark room, suddenly to surprise this tall, loose-garmented, much bebagged man; but when Mini would run in smiling, with her, “O! Kabuliwallah! Kabuliwallah!” and the two friends, so far apart in age, would subside into their old laughter and their old jokes, I felt reassured.
One morning, a few days before he had made up his mind to go, I was correcting my proof sheets in my study. It was chilly weather. Through the window the rays of the sun touched my feet, and the slight warmth was very welcome. It was almost eight o’clock, and the early pedestrians were returning home, with their heads covered. All at once, I heard an uproar in the street, and, looking out, saw Rahmun being led away bound between two policemen, and behind them a crowd of curious boys. There were blood-stains on the clothes of the Kabuliwallah, and one of the policemen carried a knife.
Hurrying out, I stopped them, and enquired what it all meant. Partly from one, partly from another, I gathered that a certain neighbour had owed the pedlar something for a Rampuri shawl, but had falsely denied having bought it, and that in the course of the quarrel, Rahmun had struck him. Now in the heat of his excitement, the prisoner began calling his enemy all sorts of names, when suddenly in a verandah of my house appeared my little Mini, with her usual exclamation: “O Kabuliwallah! Kabuliwallah!” Rahmun’s face lighted up as he turned to her. He had no bag under his arm today, so she could not discuss the elephant with him. She at once therefore proceeded to the next question: “Are you going to the father-in-law’s house?” Rahmun laughed and said: “Just where I am going, little one!” Then seeing that the reply did not amuse the child, he held up his fettered hands. ” Ali,” he said, ” I would have thrashed that old father-in-law, but my hands are bound!”
On a charge of murderous assault, Rahmun was sentenced to some years’ imprisonment.
Time passed away, and he was not remembered. The accustomed work in the accustomed place was ours, and the thought of the once-free mountaineer spending his years in prison seldom or never occurred to us. Even my light-hearted Mini, I am ashamed to say, forgot her old friend. New companions filled her life. As she grew older, she spent more of her time with girls. So much time indeed did she spend with them that she came no more, as she used to do, to her father’s room. I was scarcely on speaking terms with her.
Years had passed away. It was once more autumn and we had made arrangements for our Mini’s marriage. It was to take place during the Puja Holidays. With Durga returning to Kailas, the light of our home also was to depart to her husband’s house, and leave her father’s in the shadow.
The morning was bright. After the rains, there was a sense of ablution in the air, and the sun-rays looked like pure gold. So bright were they that they gave a beautiful radiance even to the sordid brick walls of our Calcutta lanes. Since early dawn to-day the wedding-pipes had been sounding, and at each beat my own heart throbbed. The wail of the tune, Bhairavi, seemed to intensify my pain at the approaching separation. My Mini was to be married to-night.
From early morning noise and bustle had pervaded the house. In the courtyard the canopy had to be slung on its bamboo poles; the chandeliers with their tinkling sound must be hung in each room and verandah. There was no end of hurry and excitement. I was sitting in my study, looking through the accounts, when some one entered, saluting respectfully, and stood before me. It was Rahmun the Kabuliwallah. At first I did not recognise him. He had no bag, nor the long hair, nor the same vigour that he used to have. But he smiled, and I knew him again.
“When did you come, Rahmun?” I asked him.
“Last evening,” he said, “I was released from jail.”
The words struck harsh upon my ears. I had never before talked with one who had wounded his fellow, and my heart shrank within itself, when I realised this, for I felt that the day would have been better-omened had he not turned up.
“There are ceremonies going on,” I said, “and I am busy. Could you perhaps come another day?”
At once he turned to go; but as he reached the door he hesitated, and said: “May I not see the little one, sir, for a moment?” It was his belief that Mini was still the same. He had pictured her running to him as she used, calling “O Kabuliwallah! Kabuliwallah!” He had imagined too that they would laugh and talk together, just as of old. In fact, in memory of former days he had brought, carefully wrapped up in paper, a few almonds and raisins and grapes, obtained somehow from a countryman, for his own little fund was dispersed.
I said again: “There is a ceremony in the house, and you will not be able to see any one to-day.”
The man’s face fell. He looked wistfully at me for a moment, said “Good morning,” and went out. I felt a little sorry, and would have called him back, but I found he was returning of his own accord. He came close up to me holding out his offerings and said: “I brought these few things, sir, for the little one. Will you give them to her?”
I took them and was going to pay him, but he caught my hand and said: “You are very kind, sir! Keep me in your recollection. Do not offer me money!–You have a little girl, I too have one like her in my own home. I think of her, and bring fruits to your child, not to make a profit for myself.”
Saying this, he put his hand inside his big loose robe, and brought out a small and dirty piece of paper. With great care he unfolded this, and smoothed it out with both hands on my table. It bore the impression of a little band. Not a photograph. Not a drawing. The impression of an ink-smeared hand laid flat on the paper. This touch of his own little daughter had been always on his heart, as he had come year after year to Calcutta, to sell his wares in the streets.
Tears came to my eyes. I forgot that he was a poor Kabuli fruit-seller, while I was–but no, what was I more than he? He also was a father. That impression of the hand of his little Parbati in her distant mountain home reminded me of my own little Mini.
I sent for Mini immediately from the inner apartment. Many difficulties were raised, but I would not listen. Clad in the red silk of her wedding-day, with the sandal paste on her forehead, and adorned as a young bride, Mini came, and stood bashfully before me.
The Kabuliwallah looked a little staggered at the apparition. He could not revive their old friendship. At last he smiled and said: “Little one, are you going to your father-in-law’s house?”
But Mini now understood the meaning of the word “father-in-law,” and she could not reply to him as of old. She flushed up at the question, and stood before him with her bride-like face turned down.
I remembered the day when the Kabuliwallah and my Mini had first met, and I felt sad. When she had gone, Rahmun heaved a deep sigh, and sat down on the floor. The idea had suddenly come to him that his daughter too must have grown in this long time, and that he would have to make friends with her anew. Assuredly he would not find her, as he used to know her. And besides, what might not have happened to her in these eight years?
The marriage-pipes sounded, and the mild autumn sun streamed round us. But Rahmun sat in the little Calcutta lane, and saw before him the barren mountains of Afghanistan.
I took out a bank-note, and gave it to him, saying: “Go back to your own daughter, Rahmun, in your own country, and may the happiness of your meeting bring good fortune to my child!”
Having made this present, I had to curtail some of the festivities. I could not have the electric lights I had intended, nor the military band, and the ladies of the house were despondent at it. But to me the wedding feast was all the brighter for the thought that in a distant land a long-lost father met again with his only child.
Learn n’ Grow is a psychological Research Institute based in Surat, India, and now is making videos and podcast to spreads it’s learning of the last decade to the whole wide web. Mostly based on parenting and child psychology.
Visit us at www.learnngrow.in for further details.
In this video, we will learn how to keep kids busy, engaged and interested in the world around them.
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One of the most common concerns among most parents these days has been their child’s negligible confidence level and participation spirit in major activities. As parents, we aspire an all-round development for our children and expect them to excel in at least some of the fields that they participate in. Unfortunately, sometimes our children feel so deeply negativized with the thought of not being able to live up to their parents ‘ and mostly their own expectations that they develop what we shall discuss in this article, a lower sense of self-esteem about themselves.
These self-esteem issues tend to make our children not participatory, deeply under-confident people who then sadly live extremely unfulfilling childhood days and adult life.
As parents, it becomes our duty to find the root cause of this deep malaise. We hope you find the answer to most of the doubts in your about this issue via this article.
Q: What is self-esteem?
A: Simply put, self-esteem is the measure of a child’s belief in her/his ability. It is the image of themselves that they set in their own minds.
Children with high self-esteem tend to feel confident and self-satisfied, while children who lack self-esteem live deeply underconfident and self-deprecating lives.
For eg. If your child is a good painter and yet would shy away from showing his drawings to others for fear of being, she/he lacks self-esteem.
A child may develop self-esteem at a very early age. Toddlers may early on arrive their concept of self-imagery when their parents acknowledge and reward them for simple deeds such as learning to stand or rolling over in bed.
Over the course of years, when the child starts to grow, the expectations of her/him to perform well exceeds as well.
If a child does that, if a child lives up to his own expectations and the expectations of the people around him, this strengthens her/his self-esteem. Whereas on failing to do so, her/his self-esteem may experience a major setback.
Q: What are the benefits of having good self-esteem?
A: Self-esteem and self-respect and complementary terms. A child with high self-esteem would hold herself/himself in very high regard which would further boost their confidence level as they step out into the world.
Another thing is that these kids would then have the courage to make mistakes and fail whenever they try something new and would then have the resilience to get back up and dust themselves and move forward to newer challenges in life.
These kids would also have greater control over the events in their life and can act independently while taking responsibility for their own actions.
Another thing is that such kids become very comfortable and secure in forming relationships that last long. They have the courage to believe in their own values and make good decisions, even in the face of external peer pressure
A: Children who face low self-esteem face a fundamental issue which acts fatal in their upbringing and well being. They start feeling that they do not deserve to be loved. This is an extremely crucial delicate situation as the child never really opens up about her/his issues in front of others thereby subjecting herself/himself to too much of self-loathing.
These kids could then never gain the same confidence level as the rest of their peer group and lack fundamental knowledge about their own inadequacies. In other words, they lack what is known as self-awareness.
Low self-esteem kids are constantly frustrated, angry and uptight about their failure. If their failure in terms of academics, it would further distract them from learning and lower their attention span in classes.
Their relationships face calamities as they fail to indulge themselves in fruitful friendships. These kids thus become withdrawn and turn inwards.
If not overseen properly, they may also give in to negative peer pressure habits of drugs, binge drinking, etc at a later stage.
But mostly, sometimes low self-esteem kids at an older stage feel utterly lost and defeated leading to even suicidal tendencies. It becomes very crucial then to deal with this malign issue at a very early stage.
Q: How to develop self-esteem?
A: If there’s one thing that should be recognised by the parent is that the self-esteem and self-importance in your child cannot be developed in a day. It is a process that should be taken into practice every single day. To develop self-esteem, a child should, for the most part, succeed in overcoming challenges that they set for themselves, doesn’t matter how small or big the challenges they face.
If done on a regular basis, this chain of challenging and achieving, and mostly of receiving positive validation from it, boosts a child’s confidence and strengthens her/his self-esteem.
When kids learn to do things for themselves and feel proud of what they can do, they feel a lot more capable and feel they have the calibre to take on greater challenges.
Children feel more efficient when they see those good things come from the efforts of trying hard and getting close to the goal or making progress in any forms and means.
For example, when a child learns how to ride a bicycle without the training wheels, it makes her/him believe in her/his capabilities and further strengthens their self-esteem.
Also, when children feel understood by a parent or someone close, they are likely to accept themselves, too. Their good feelings about themselves multiply as parents praise good behaviours, help when needed, and give encouragement and support as the child needs them.
Q: What is the role of parents in developing self-esteem?
A: One of the most efficient aspects of parenting, in this case, is to teach your child to be independent. If you teach your kid to do things, instead of actually doing it for them, it builds their self-esteem to a major extent.
Of course, it is important to show and guide them at the first instance. But mostly, it’s utmost essential for them to figure their own way around things and do the task themselves.
Another important aspect of dealing with this situation is to praise your young one selectively. Yes, praising is essential and develops good confidence in them, but what is even more essential is to avoid over-praising and pampering them.
For eg. If you praise your young ones even for tasks they failed at, it negates the whole point of boosting their morale. Instead, if you console them by saying,
“I know you tried hard but I know that things will work out next time.”
This gives them a greater kick to work harder next time and not be scared about the failures.
Another important thing to remember is that kids mostly learn imitation at a very young age. And as they are very impressionable young minds it becomes very important for parents to be good role models and idols they can look up to.
Which means that if we, as parents learn to do things on our own and hold ourselves and our work in the highest regard, they learn to do that as well. And as by doing their work and tasks with the utmost dedication, they learn to get better at it, thereby boosting their self-esteem to a new level.
And lastly, it is essential to leech out all the negativity from your own life. Avoid harsh or hurtful comments like for eg., “You’re so lazy” or “Look at so and so’s kid”.
A lot of our child’s inner negativity is a by-product of the all the negativity around her/his surroundings which they soak in.
So as parents, it becomes our job to fill our own lives with all the positive energy that we could so that we could fill the same in the lives of our children.
This, all of this, is the recipe to your child leading a beautiful, happy life where she/he feels good about herself/himself. This will not only help your child to deal with problems they face during their childhood but also support them to responsible and successful adults and parents themselves.
Yes, today we will analyse “Temper tantrums” of our loved ones.
A tantrum is the expression of a young child’s frustration with the challenges of the moment. Your child is having trouble figuring something out or completing a specific task. Your child doesn’t have the vocabulary or can’t find the words to express his or her feelings. Frustration might trigger anger — resulting in a temper tantrum.
There might be no foolproof way to prevent tantrums, but there’s plenty you can do to encourage good behaviour in even the youngest children.
Be consistent. Establish a daily routine so that your child knows what to expect. Stick to the routine as much as possible, including nap time and bedtime. Set reasonable limits and follow them consistently.
Plan ahead. Run errands when your child isn’t likely to be hungry or tired. If you’re expecting to wait in line, pack a small toy or snack to occupy your child.
Encourage your child to use words. Young children understand many more words than they’re able to express. If your child isn’t yet speaking — or speaking clearly — teach him or her sign language for words such as “I want,” “more,” “drink,” “hurt” and “tired.” As your child gets older, help him/her put their feelings into words.
Let your child make choices. Avoid saying “no” to everything. To give your toddler a sense of control, let him/her make choices. “Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?” “Would you like to eat strawberries or bananas?” “Would you like to read a book or build a tower with your blocks?”
Praise good behaviour. Offer extra attention when your child behaves well. Give your child a hug or tell your child how proud you are when he or she shares or follows directions.
Avoid situations likely to trigger tantrums. Don’t give your child toys that are far too advanced for him or her. If your child begs for toys or treats when you shop, try to steer clear of areas with these temptations. If your toddler acts up in restaurants, choose places that offer quick service.
Typically, the best way to respond to a tantrum is to stay calm and ignore the behaviour. You also might try to distract your child. A different book or a change of location might help.
But the above strategy doesn’t apply to an “escape” tantrum: a child going bonkers because he doesn’t want to do whatever it is you want him to (clean up, sit at the table, etc.). In this case, ignoring him gives him what he wants: You’re no longer demanding that he wear his coat, or whatever it is that needs to be done.
Putting him in a time-out chair doesn’t work, either, since that’s time he’s not putting on his jacket. “Every second he’s not complying, he’s winning”. Instead, tell your kid that if he doesn’t get dressed in five seconds, you’re going to put your hands on his and do it together.
Select a timeout spot. Seat your child in a boring place, such as in a chair in the living room or on the floor in the hallway. Wait for your child to calm down. Consider giving one minute of time-out for every year of your child’s age.
Stick with it. If your child begins to wander around before the timeout is over, return him or her to the designated timeout spot. Don’t respond to anything your child says while he or she is in timeout.
Know when to end the timeout. When your child has calmed down, discuss the reason for the timeout and why the behaviour was inappropriate. Then return to your usual activities.
If your child has a tantrum in public, ignore the behaviour if possible. If your child becomes too disruptive, take him or her to a private spot for a timeout.