The word nature itself brings a smile on my face, as it reminds me of my childhood days. As a child, I had never seen TV, leave apart computer and mobile phones, which were not even heard of. The only electronic gazette in the house was radio, which was always under the strict control of my elder sisters and even touching the knob of radio could be termed as a punishable offence, as it would force them to search again for the lost radio station. It can be said that going to Mother Nature was a compulsion for the children in that era, but it never felt boring as each moment spent with nature brought its own surprises. I become nostalgic remembering the moment spent under a tree in our own garden in the name of picnic. We used to collect peanuts, biscuits, toffee, water and head towards the tree for the picnic. The long summer afternoons appeared too short for such a picnic. Collecting berries, raw mangoes in the garden while watching the numerous birds was a great joy. Such picnics were also perfect occasions for fixing matches of dolls, as engagement ceremonies could be held over exchange of berries and tamarinds. Climbing the guava tree in the courtyard of our house to pluck guava is one of the sweetest memories of my childhood.
Even as I grew up, my love for nature has remained the same. My idea for ideal holiday is staying in an isolated cottage in the lap of nature.
When my daughter was born, I had thought that in the age of TV, computer games and internet, she would never be able to appreciate the joys given by nature, as in addition to many high Tech toys, she had so many other interesting things to indulge in, until I was proven wrong by her.
When four year old, her teacher explained her class about the how a seed turns into a plant. My daughter asked me for some seeds, cotton and a small container for the experiment. I gave her two Rajama seeds and some cotton. She wrapped the seeds into the piece of cotton, poured water into it and kept it in a container. I had almost forgotten it, until I was reminded in the most peculiar manner.
That day I was sitting in my office in a meeting. My mobile vibrated and I attended it seeing that it was a call from home. As soon as I whispered “Hello”, I was greeted with a loud scream, full of excitement,” Mamma! Plant aa gaya!” ( Mamma! The plant has come out!) it was evident from her voice that she was bubbling with enthusiasm as her voice was loud enough to be heard by all those present in the meeting. I quickly summed up the matter, whispering, “OK. Take care, I will see to it in the evening.” Ignoring the smiles of others, I continued with the insipid discussion about the growth of telephone lines while my heart was yearning to witness her reverence for the budding plant.
In the next few days, I was forced to ponder as to how wrong I had been to presume that technology could outdo nature to entertain a kid. The fact was I had never seen her so happy. Even the most expensive toys she possessed had not given her the happiness, which she was experiencing in nurturing the plant. The plant was planted in an earthen pot and kept growing under the supervision of my daughter. She proudly declared herself the Kisaan (farmer) of the family. Most of her time was spent in watching the plant, watering it and counting its leaves while the rest was spent in fondly telling me her future plans encircling around how she would be growing Rajama on a large scale so that we could eat home grown Rajama, and sell the rest to the market.
Then came the day when her protégé made her proud by bearing three Rajama seeds. She carefully plucked them on ripening and handed over to me to cook them. I mixed them with more Rajama and cooked. That day, my otherwise fussy daughter found Rajma- Chawal awesome and ate it as a delicacy.
I was wondering how a small seed can have so much impact on a kid! The irony is that large quantity of grain is thrown into waste each day without realizing its importance!
Over the years, I made it sure that my son also experienced this unique joy of sowing a seed and nurturing a plant.
My daughter is now sixteen years old, and in those sixteen years, I have come across lakhs of moments of sorrow, joy and many other mood swings expressed by her. I have seen her too much excited many times, such as “ Mama-Papa! You are the best parents in the world” on getting her favourite dress or ipod as a gift or “Mamma See! Your daughter is a genius!” on getting highest marks in her maths test. But none of these expressions of excitement is a distant match to the excitement bubbling from the melodious voice of a four year old reaching through a mobile phone, still resonating in my ears, “Mamma! Plant aa gaya!”