On Child­hood

Governance Now - - BRIEFINGS - By Val­lab­hb­hai Pa­tel – From ‘An Au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal Let­ter’, 19 De­cem­ber 1049

They say, “Child is Fa­ther of the Man”. I do not know how much of what I am I owe to those bliss­ful days. I know this much, how­ever, my con­sti­tu­tion to­day is what I built up as a child and the many qual­i­ties or de­fects of char­ac­ter which I might ex­hibit to­day can prob­a­bly be traced to the char­ac­ter­is­tics which I dis­played when I was a child. This does not, how­ever, mean that I kept my de­vel­op­ment in a straight line. This can hardly be the case in a life full of va­ri­eties and of dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences. Many are life’s in­ci­dents which act as a cor­rec­tive and les­son which once learnt mould a per­son’s fu­ture in a way quite dif­fer­ent from the past. I had my share of these in­ci­dents and ex­pe­ri­ences, but, in the main, I am what I was or tried to be seventy years ago. Even to­day in the midst of my oner­ous re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and heavy pre­oc­cu­pa­tion, I de­light in the com­pany of chil­dren. That brings some­times a ray of hope in the midst of sur­round­ing gloom, a heavy laugh­ter af­ter the perusal of a sad­den­ing re­port, and a re­lax­ation dur­ing anx­ious hours. Work is un­doubt­edly wor­ship but laugh­ter is life. Any­one who takes life too se­ri­ously must pre­pare him­self for a mis­er­able ex­is­tence. Any­one who greets joys and sor­rows with equal fa­cil­ity can re­ally get the best of life. It has been my good for­tune to have borne a tem­per­a­ment which adapts it­self equally well to the most tax­ing and the light mo­ments. It was only some years ago that I used to wres­tle and sport with my grand­son. Even now, I in­dulge in less vig­or­ous pranks with chil­dren who can af­ford to give me the ben­e­fit of their com­pany. It is only so long as a man can re­tain the child in him that life can be free from those dark shad­ows which leave in­evitable fur­rows on a man’s fore­head.

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