My heart leaps up when I behold,
A Rainbow in the sky,
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
I like to think that when Wordsworth wrote the lines, his heart was full of indescribable joy. The feeling of joy we all so instinctively hang on to, cling to for all we are worth. Which we seek to revive through smell and feel. That smell of freshly cut grass in the breeze, the salty warmth of the sea or of aromas from a passing kitchen, a spicy pickle, a familiar perfume from old boxes of clothes. The feel of velvet, which one so rarely sees these days, reminds me of my grandmother, her blouses, the fabric of which I loved to feel shifting under the patterns my young fingers drew on them, bent fibres displaying shifting dark and light lines across the cloth. The scent of winter chill in the pine forests of the mountains flooded my mind when I was just a child, and till today the slightest hint of cold pine in the air calms my body and soul, lifting me deep into a meditative silence in a way nothing else can.
Like Freud knew, when we search for the depths of our needs, we find the roots of all joys, of all happiness deeply intertwined with the fabric of our youth. And the fears and unhappiness as well. What I felt when I was young, is what has shaped me as a woman. And what we face in our youth, we often spend lifetimes either building upon, or tearing down. It is our childhoods that determine our destiny’s, the choices we make and where we seek happiness and warmth. For some family warmth is what is home, for others it is the freedom of open spaces. For some warmth is the vague familiarity of rough relationships, for others, the guidance of familial commitments. And for many, childhood is simply hand to mouth survival, life continuing for generations to be about simply and sadly, life and death.
The deep and horrendous loss of so many young lives under fire from the toxicity of the environment in which they grew, reflects the growing disorder in the world around us. Now more than ever the Darwinian wisdom, survival of the fittest seems to be shaping civilization. Descriptions of fitness ranging from considerations of physical and economic strength, to considered moral and spiritual superiorities. And at the front of the firing line stand, as always, the week, the handicapped and the poor. Amongst these then, the women and the children are particularly vulnerable, and more often than not, targeted by those with the strength and flawed bravado, to impose.
What will impact us all, and will shape lives for decades to come much more than the deaths caused by the collapse of a society in Peshawar on that tragic day of December, will be the young who will carry this incident emblazoned upon their souls. How many of the children who saw their friends fall will forever fear, avoid and shape their lives around the sounds of ricocheting bullets. How many will hate that need to fear, how many will hate others for making them fear. Not all can be a Malala, nor should all need to be. As a society we are failing, failing to protect the most vulnerable almost deliberately, and worse, allowing every man with a stick, to use them for target practice. From Nirbhaya to Peshawar, we as a society have failed. There is no doubt about that. But in time nature finds its balance. We will pay, each one of us, for this. The reason being the strength of the force which shapes the growth and fall of civilizations. The undeniable fact that every child grows up to become a man.