A child's imagination

There's No Freedom Like That of a Child's Imagination
- The Comic Strip Non Sequitur

There really isn’t. We have all transited from our self-made children’s world into the real one and wished we never had to. And once we are out, there is no going back in. We’ve all lived in our own worlds, each unique. Perhaps the quantum physicists searching for parallel universes should begin by exploring children’s thoughts.

At a seminar I went to some time ago, I met a man who claimed he could do just that. Delve into a child’s world, and find out what the child really wants of the world around him, how he organises it in his mind, and how best therefore we can understand the little soul. He said he was an art therapist, and his method was to provide a boy or girl (who seemed to have problems adjusting with parents, peers or teachers) a drawing sheet and crayons. Whatever the child drew (with no restrictions of imagination or time), was then analysed. He showed us the pictures the children had drawn. And what wonders came off!

A child had drawn a banana dreaming. The banana was lonely, and wanted a wife! There was a shark that was sulking ‘coz of all the other fish teasing him over his terrible teeth, and he had really badly wanted to play with them. One drew a singer with her tonsils showing. She had a sore throat, so the kid had to illustrate this by showing the red inflammation!

Another drew a landscape (the familiar one with triangular mountains and a rising/setting sun). Only the sun this time was black. Before the Freud squad could jump and say ‘Aha! Oedipus complex’ or some such thing, the truth came out. The child had been taught this particularly sterile form of landscape drawing in school, where the drawing-master would make the sun smile. So for this kid, the black sun was simply facing the other side of the mountains. Behind them was America, you see, and the sun was going there!

There was one whose mother had taken a fall, so he drew her with three legs for support.

Children also live quite a bit in the real world. We've gone to school and learned and done homework about Gandhi. Did he also do homework? Can you imagine a picture of a schoolboy Gandhi, with his trademark bald pate and glasses intact, bent over homework under a table-lamp?

Or a funeral procession, ostensibly of Dhirubai Ambani? There was such a picture, with a hospital on one side where on a dish there were his eyes (drawn bigger than proportion), meant to be donated to a little blind boy? The child said that Dhirubhai saw far ahead of him, so he must have had wondrous eyes.

Now that is imagination, and insight even. Can an adult Picasso or Anjolie Ela Menon match that?


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