Dare to dream

Effortless and unfazed, she took her ideas to completion. All that she needed was a ‘dream’. On hot afternoons when most people were enjoying their afternoon naps lulled by the noisy desert coolers, you would find her leading a motley band of young followers on a ‘project’ she just dreamed up. She must have been six years old at that time .

With her little sister in tow she was a welcome intrusion when she rang door bells at odd hours on Gokhale Marg, beckoning a willing member of her ‘kid’s club’. Mothers and grandmothers heaved a sigh of relief and rushed back to their kitchens and chores.

Small and wiry with a mop of unmanageable hair, her Hawaii chappals beating a steady rhythm on the hot street, she ran about tirelessly collecting her eager group.They made skittles from plastic bottles, spent time colouring huge masterpieces, went on a treasure hunt to neighbouring parks, sang songs loudly on the swing in the garden, played hop-scotch and brand new games with dynamically changing rules, happy in a world free of worries and problems.

Though quarrels broke out sometimes, and mothers were unwillingly called in to intervene, she calmly reigned as the undisputed head for six years, abdicating the post only when her father was transferred out of the city. The ability to keep boredom at bay with ideas that popped up with alarming speed made playtime with her a sheer pleasure.

We were witness to a play on lunatics written and directed by her. Sitting on foldable chairs or leaning against the garage walls we enjoyed lemonade and fry-ums and the performance of a cast that needed some prompting by the director who took breaks from playing her ‘lunatic patient’ role.

So realistic was the delivery of dialogues that the tiny doctor trembled in his chair and the nurse forgot her words.

“I will need a few white tiles, even broken ones will do, a little glue and some puja items”, she began calmly. “Because today we will build the Birla Mandir!”. This spurred the happy group into frenzied activity. Starting work after a hasty lunch, the ‘temple’ in all its small white, unsteady splendour stood ready by sunset. All afternoon we mothers had watched the small hands of the children work untiringly, peppered with occasional squeals of uncontrolled laughter.

An old neighbour learning of this creation gifted a clay idol of goddess Durga. And another lady brought a pair of lamps –with the wick soaked in ghee! (Nothing but the best for the grand opening she said). Soon flowers from gardens were offered and the children sat around tired, chatting in the glow of the sunset and the burning lamps.

Effortlessly she dreamed up new ideas and unfazed, reached them to completion. For many years later I saved the piece of paper with, “Things for Birla Mandir” scrawled in a child’s hurried hand. But now, when the club leader, my daughter, feels defeated by the mounting pressures of college and studies, I remind her of her outrageous childhood projects. And I tell her, “Anything is possible, dare to dream. You can still build the ‘temple of your dreams’”.

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