We spent the weekend moving our stuff to our new apartment. In between the pain of doing so and lamenting the foolishness of hording hazaar stuff when basically living a nomadic life, we came across the DVD for Hanuman that we had picked last year in India. I bought it with the intention of watching it with Aayush and somehow never got around to doing it. The DVD made a reappearance during the upheaval of moving and seemed the best thing to do to cut through Aayush’s boredom. A boredom he was choosing to dispense by unpacking everything we were packing.So, I put it on and Aayush, a dutiful son that he is, promptly started watching in rapt concentration, the one in which he doesn’t blink. Of course, I started sneaking a looksee with him and there it was. A large demon with a very ugly face, uprooting people , throwing them into the fire, crushing them under his feet, eating them. My first thought was that the DVD was too violent for Aayush. I mean, Aayush is too young to watch stuff like that, isn’t he? Close on it’s heels, was the observation that Aayush still wasn’t blinking. The second thought right behind first one was the fact that everyone in India grows up hearing/reading these stories. The good -evil business, more to the point dev-rakshas business of Hindu mythology is drummed into our brains right from childhood. There is always a big war before the evil is vanquished and Indra Dev can go back to being the King of Devs again only to almost loose the throne to another evil character, leaving the triumvate Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh to come up with another avataar. Yes, I was an avid Amar Chitra Katha reader. The point is that it never seemed violent to me before nor did I grow up with a violent streak.
I am realising how much you are influenced as a parent by your environment. If we were in Iraq/Afganisthan, the kid would actually have already seen much worse. If we were in Africa, I would be much more worried about where the next meal will come from. If we were in India, the thought would never have entered my mind. I shrugged off the thought, the packing duties and spent the next two hours watching the movie with Aayush. He spent the two hours thereafter trying to mimic Hanuman flying. The next time he watches it, he will rake around in his toy bin till he comes up with something that resembles Hanuman’s Gadha. The phrase, “Don’t you want to be a strong/brave boy?” has been replaced with “Don’t you want to be like Hanuman?” Right now, Hanuman is as cool as Elmo and I will gladly take it. More importantly, Hanuman is now a approachable figure as opposed to the figure on the altar. He is his friend.
Just for the moment, the God-fearing side of me is very happy to see him sit cross-legged on the floor,fold his hands in prayer by aligning them perfectly instead of just clasping them.
Apparently, it is much cooler when someone on TV does it than when I or S do it. Aaj kal ke bachche, I tell you.