You may be asked these questions after watching “The Lion King”

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Its never a bad idea to talk about the good, bad and evil sides of plot, characters and purpose of the movie you just watched with your kids.

Disney is rehashing, rebooting, resurrecting and recreating its all time loved movies with amazing hyperrealism, though which makes everything more intense. Especially the claw- and teeth-filled fight scenes can give goosebumps to bravest of  hearts . It is far too real looking,  the hyena circle, when Mufasa falls to death, they are much more menacing than in the original version.

Yet, I find it chockfull of good lessons and lots of talking points.  

It teaches great lessons about life, death, betrayal, friendship, fear, leadership and forgiving yourself.

There were few instances where I was uncomfortable like how to answer death and death by one’s brother, this bit was a little tricky. Not all teachable moments are enjoyable when you are answering to a naïve impressionable mind. But its better to clear your throat than muffle his/her innocent questions or park grim facts of life to be discussed later.

Here are few questions that I was shelled with after watching the Lion King, by my 6 years old, you might encounter or have encountered already. Here are the answers my little unsure always anxious mommy brain could unscramble.

Why did Scar kill Mufasa , he was his brother?

Not everyone is same. We have good people and bad people. Its sad when the bad people are our own people. At times we have to be kind with them and understand them. We should take stand and stick to the good we do. We should strive to be better each day and love our brothers and sisters. What Scar did was wrong. Together they could have been happier. It is wisdom to love each other.

Why Mufasa died?

( I really hate Disney for killing parents at starting of their stories and they leave parents jostling alone to answer scary questions)

Well , you see every creature’s life eventually comes  to end. Its sad that Mufasa was killed by his own brother. If he was not killed he could have lived a beautiful life with his son but then someday he would have to go. Like sun sets in evening, like flowers wither away, so does every creature. All go back to God from where they came. Bad things can happen but what is important is to always remember the good things parents tell.

Why Simba was so scared?

Its ok to be scared and feel bad about the things that happen. Its ok to cry. What is not ok is to keep crying. Its ok to feel fear but what is not ok is to run away and not even try things . We feel scared of our own shadow till we find out what actually causes a shadow. When we understand our fears and face them we become brave. We can always be better and braver than we think of ourselves.

 And yes the most important of all to talk about is – what is Hakuna Matata!”, that’s Swahili for “No worries for the rest of your days!”

Simba believed it was his fault that Mufasa was killed. Its important to come close to one’s feeling than to run away from them. Being happy, sad, angry, anxious, scared are natural feelings and natural reactions to the happenings outside. We should not hold them back to punish ourselves or others. There is no shame in being vulnerable. Feelings don’t define or reflect one’s character or strength.

“Don’t worry, be happy” is a good pursuit to get over but its should not deter and distract from holding on to the higher calling and purpose in life.

Hakuna Matata!

Ain’t no passing craze

It means no worries

For the rest of your days

It’s our problem-free philosophy

Hakuna Matata!

 

Narrative of the goose that was killed for laying golden eggs

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The Aesop’s fable ‘The Goose that laid golden eggs” has always been told from the point of view of the greedy farmer. It was all about him: his penury, his luck, his greed and his debacle. None of the narratives have ever come from the poor goose. What was its side of the story?

It did not last to tell its story of being loved, wronged and then finally killed.

If all unfortunate events are mapped on a sheet and red mark is put on every story that happened because of somebody’s greed, believe you me there will be many. Our poor earth is one such goose that is being killed for laying golden eggs and the farmers aka corporate owners will one day find nothing but parched surroundings enveloped in smuts and smokes. Our education, health, political and economic systems are being milked with apathy to the point that they are starving of values and dying of sheer disregard of principles. So, in one way or other, at this place or some other, golden gooses are being smothered to death for greed of “more of much”.

Anyway, let’s come back to the point. What would the goose have to say if it were given a chance to tell its version? Men write stories for men and see things from their perspective and those that serve their interest. What did that poor animal have to say to other animals and give lessons from its side of the story?

Here we go, let’s listen from the goose who just transmitted its message from heaven. Heaven? Yes, heaven since for those who are wronged, suffered and killed, the best form of salvage that this world provides to victims is the promise of Heaven … if not justice.

The Goose’s narration

Hello everybody,

I am the poor Goose from Aesop’s fable. I was not always poor, how my life was snuffed out, made me poor in the pages of stories. I was a free Goose that moseyed and dawdled in lush green surroundings of my natural habitat. I pecked the grains, pruned my feathers and plonked my head in the warmth of my arms to sleep. I was living my life on my terms and was free to run in the face of attack from wolves and dogs. One day I got tired of running and saving my life on my own and gave myself willingly into the hands of a hunter who came to catch geese from the Jungle.

So, here my friends is the first lesson from my life:

  1. Don’t exchange your freedom for anything

The hunter sold me to a farmer couple. They put me in a coop and gave me grains to feed. The grains were neither too much nor too little. I prayed to God to give me the ability to lay gold eggs so that the farmer would grow rich and give me enough grains.

  1. Don’t give more than what one deserves

Things improved for the farmer and his family. But my share of the grains did not improve. They remained just a handful. I was wronged and had the gut feeling that the farmer would not return the favors. But I still gave him another chance by laying more golden eggs.

3.      Once bitten twice shy

I wish I had not given him more eggs or had restored to giving just the normal eggs but it was too late. The greed had taken the better of him and one day the farmer came in my coop with a shining knife. He killed me.

So that’s my side of story.

What is bad, what is evil… dishonesty, greed, treachery and backstabbing all are there to stay. Even Adam and Eve could not be spared and they too had to leave paradise. The lessons were passed on from ages to ages but poor geese forget it every time, let’s remember the lessons the Goose’s ghost came to tell us… Don’t give the best of you freely and in undeserving hands.

A conversation on friendship with my 5 year old daughter

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It’s easier to talk to children above ten about complex things like relationships. (Maybe I am oversimplifying the problem). But when it comes to the audience whose understanding is limited to ‘sharing is the way of caring baba, baba black sheep’ it’s difficult to present something complex in a simple way.

Though Khalil Jibran has explicitly put everything that friendship is in these lines:

 Your friend is your needs answered.

He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

And he is your board and your fireside.

For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind, you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”

 The problem was how to talk about this to my little 5 year old. There were many helpful parenting sites that talked about the clinical aspects of making friends or being one. I was looking for something more. I was looking to touch the root of the concept, to talk a bit of philosophy with my bitsy baby.

Let me tell you the background of what prompted me to take up this topic with her. After we shifted to a new country, I had a daunting task at hand. There was a park nearby our apartment. I and my daughter would stroll down there in the evenings. The task was to find a friend to play. A few initial visits were stressful for me, she played swings and slides with her roving eyes looking for a pal amidst her unanswered smiles and waves. My little one was disappointed but not disheartened.

One day she took her new bicycle to the park and there was a girl of her age who came to play with her. They both rode the bicycle by turns. I was also relieved that she finally had a companion. The next day she went without her bicycle. She looked for her friend everywhere. Finally, she saw her playing with a group of children. She waved to her and went near them expecting that she would be invited to play. But nothing like that happened. The bicycle friend turned out to be an opportunist.

That day my little brave heart was heartbroken. She came running towards me and she plonked her head in my lap and cried. We returned home.

She was yet to start her new school. Her mom, dad and a few stuffed bunnies and bears were her only acquaintances in the new land. I wanted to talk to her about what had happened in the park but I kept it to myself. Though she was back to her normal self but it was evident that she was hurt. It was the next day at bed time when I groped a chance to begin the conversation on Friendship and making friends.

I chose to read ‘The Stinky Little Kitten’  — Jim Peterson, a story about a friendly kitten who is refused help by all the farm animals when she jumps over onions and starts stinking. A piglet, whom she had always avoided, is the only animal which comes to her help to clean herself. When the stinky little kitten is washed and cleaned, she runs up to her mother, nonplussed as to why none of the animals whom she thought were her friends, helped her. To this, the smart mommy cat says:

“It’s not always that you choose your friends. Sometimes the friends choose you.”

 The end of the story brought a smile on my kitten’s face. I smiled back.

Me: “What do you think of the story?”

She :“I liked it.”

Me: “What did you like in it?”

She: “The stinky little kitten found her friend at last.”

Me: “Ummm okay but what made her think that the piglet was her friend?”

She: “Because he helped her.”

Me: “Yes dear helping is friendship, but it’s not just helping that makes good friends.

She: “Aunty (maid) helps you too.”

Me: (laughing) “I pay her. Helping is in return of something.”

She: “I know mama friends share things.”

Me: “Hmm okay you shared your bicycle with that park friend.”

She: (frowning) “Hmmm I was friend, she was not friend.”

Me: “Yeah okay tell me which cartoon friends you like the most.”

(Thinks for a moment)

She: “Yes I like Bambi and Thumper”

Me: “They are my favourite too. Why are they your favourite?”

She: “Umm Thumper and Bambi have lots of fun together.”

Me: “Yes they do, indeed.”

She: “Why do you like them?”

Me: “I like them because they are different yet they understand each other, try to improve each other. Remember how Thumper teaches Bambi to ski on ice.”

She: (giggling) “Yes I remember.”

Me: “So a friend is someone who has all these traits. Somebody who shares toys but doesn’t help is not a friend. Somebody who helps but does not understand you is not a friend.”

She: “You are my best friend.”

Me: “Yes, I am dear and will always remain your friend. When you will start your new school, when you will attend your music or craft classes, when you will grow up, you will find such a friend who will be polite, helpful, understanding and who will like the things you like, who will not come to you because you have a special toy or a new bicycle. That friend will befriend you for who you are.”

 A bright, bright smile spread across her face that brightened my heart too. I switched off the side lamp. While sleep was slowly pulling my eye lashes down this quotation by Gloria Naylor was running through my mind, “We cannot tell the exact moment a friendship is formed; as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one that makes the heart run over.