Never give up. You may find your way through the dark tunnel right when you are about to give up hope.

As the great poet and critic, Wordsworth says, ‘The child is the father of man.’

Every child is a different kind of flower, and altogether makes this world a beautiful garden. We see a newborn crying, and the very first thing to want to do is pick her in our arms and hug her tight. The father comes home late that night, and just as the car is parked in the driveway, he runs down the stairway to hug the child. The rainy days when the richest merchant in town lets out a paper boat in the brown rainy water of the overflowing drains and smiles watching that one rupee coin float away, far away from him only to be crushed by a speedy car making the paper titanic sink to the bottom in its crumbled state, and tears flow from the eyes, and all you want to do is to hold him/her in your arms. When the mother smiles knowing that her jar full of cookies won’t last three days, and observes a few cookies go missing each day, and then finds the little red foldable stool on which he climbs to grab it from the top of the kitchen shelf – that is what a child does to you. Make you deeply happy and move you in a world of contentedness and gratification where everything is nothing, and nothing is everything – their make-believe world.

They want to be so many things at once – a musician, a rock star, a scientist, a superman, a singer, an artist and anything and everything. Their dreams grow with them, live with them. And there is a fortunate few who ably makes the dreams their passion and proves themselves to be legendary.

Although he’s barely a teenager, Farrell Wu has been named as one of the smartest kids in the world by Business Insider, and earned a perfect score while participating in the Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC) in 2012. While most boys of his age had backpacks filled with simple geometry worksheets, 12-year-old Wu could solve math problems that would cause most adults to stumble.

Ryan Wang is a music prodigy who recently played piano at the age of five.

Although he’s only 20, Akrit Jaswal is already a practicing physician and has been working in the field for more than a decade. At the age of 12, Jaswal became the youngest student to be admitted into medical school in India.

Priyanshi Somani began studying mental maths at the age of six. In 2010, at age eleven, Somani was the youngest participant at that year’s Mental Calculation World Cup.

And the list has many more child prodigies to it.

Some state the characteristics of gifted, exceptionally talented children as having –

  • Keen powers of observation
  • Learned or read very early, often before school age
  • Reads widely and rapidly
  • Well developed vocabulary – takes delight in using unusual and new words
  • Has great intellectual curiosity
  • Absorbs information rapidly- often called sponges
  • Very good memory – can recall information in different circumstances
  • Have the ability to concentrate deeply for prolonged periods
  • Very good powers of reasoning and problem solving
  • Have intense interests
  • Possess unusual imagination
  • Have a great interest in “big” questions, e.g. the nature of the universe, the problem of suffering in the world, environmental issues
  • Very sensitive – perhaps getting upset easily
  • Very concerned about rights and wrongs, concerned about injustices

However, all we need to realize is that talent, creativity and innovation are above all these factors, characteristics and signs. As per my own experience and memory, I was five when I had already written a few poems and short stories of kings and kingdoms, of prince and princess, of love and revenge, and of the demons. That is the way I somehow felt alive. I still remember those summer vacations I would sit in the porch in the granny’s home, under a kerosene oil lamp and just scribble. It was not planned or intentional. It just felt like a way of living life. Maybe I wanted to read what I think before I could speak them. Somehow it was the best way to talk to myself. Not that I agree with all those who say I’m exceptionally talented – I was just being me, and maybe that is how it all started.

Until the day, I learnt I was living my dream.

In all those so-called speeches I made in various institutions, I made a statement, which was common to all. ‘Don’t let yourself rot away, die before blooming, and to do that, you need to keep the child alive in you.’

I think the best part of being a child is to be free of responsibilities, duties, laws, rules and petty politics of the world. Most of the students I have interacted with still remember their best days they’ve lived in their childhood which even my own parents, as a matter of fact, with a heavy pride in their voice, term as the golden days.

What I feel personally is that the talent is a little nightingale and the process of growing up is the cage. The interesting part is, we cannot stop growing up, but we can actually stop growing too old to let the child in us die. We need to grow up, and also feed the nightingale ala ‘the talent’ so that one fine day it would break the age, spread its wings and fly in clouds of liberty – without any hindrances or boundaries.

Children are not things to be moulded, but little souls that need to be unfolded.

Encouragement, motivation and appreciation – a pat, a nod or a smile, no matter how small – always add to the joy of the children’s creativity and dreams. The parents these days are pretty liberal and cool with what their child does in their career, and when they ask me, all I say is, ‘Don’t make your child a replica of someone. Make them the best version of themselves. Give examples of talented people, but let them be their own examples too’.

We see children below the age of 14 serve tea to the customers in a roadside tea stall. Recently, I went to a grocery store where I asked for the shampoo of a specific brand. The man at the counter told me, ‘Yes madam, just a minute.’ He paused and examined one of the boys arranging things on a shelf and raised his voice, ‘Get the shampoo, Chotu.’

Surprised, I looked up to see Chotu – a mere 7-year-old thin, fragile figure walking in apprehensively. He was new to the shop from what I can make of his expression, and he helplessly stared at his master.

“I said GET THE SHAMPOO, NOW.” And the master went on with some of the filthy cuss words that could be painful and embarrassing for the listeners.

And I asked myself a question – ‘Have we really abolished slavery?’

This is regressive India.

On one hand, we see the progressive India with the children of modern families attending school, excelling in their respective fields and becoming the torchbearers of tomorrow; on the other hand, we see a picture of India in its rearward state. All the government primary schools in the rural villages are meant to provide education and create awareness among the less fortunate. However, what we most of the time end up with is a handful of them attending schools just to fill their starving tummies with the ‘mid-day meals.’

We just need to end ‘child labour’ and put some ‘labour’ in bringing out the talents of the children.

On an average, a 4-year-old child asks 437 questions a day. We cannot satisfy each of their queries, but we can for sure provide them with the necessary books and resources to engage themselves. Children, I feel, are naïve scientists. And a little admiration and support would help them give a shape to their thoughts and aspirations.

This is a ‘Smartphone generation’. Just a simple click and you have a whole new vista of knowledge served in a plate. While it has its advantages of satisfying the child’s curiosity, the Internet or the Smartphone are not to become the pitfalls of their future.

You can have a hobby all your life, or you can turn it in your constructive enthusiastic profession.

Jan Koum was not from a wealthy family. He stayed with his mother and grandmother in a small apartment. With his hard work, he finally got into San Jose State University where he took training in programming. He took up a job with Yahoo, but then he felt the need to innovate and create something interesting. He left his job, worked hard with the help of his friend Brian Acton and started today’s WhatsApp’, but initially failed. He eventually had no job and was suffering from financial loses. Grudgingly, he admitted it was probably time to go get a job. He applied for a job with Facebook, but he was rejected. Acton persuaded him to give it a few more months. And interestingly, Facebook later bought his innovation WhatsApp for $19 billion and gave Koum a seat on the social network’s board of directors. Yes, it’s one of the rags-to-riches success stories of the creator of Whatsapp, the popular social networking app now.

This clearly shows how far our passion would drive us.

Today Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Sir Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no-good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along. However, he eventually found a recipe for success that worked.

Never give up. You may find your way through the dark tunnel right when you are about to give up hope.

As Shiv Khera says, ‘Winners don’t do different things. They do things differently.’

And for the wonderful children out there, who stress more on the academics and examination and sweat it out day in and day out, remember the famous quotation from ‘THE LION KING’:

‘Hakuna Matata’. Keep “NO WORRIES.” Just be yourself.

Always remind yourself: ‘There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it’!

By Leema Dhar
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