Gifted : Nikita Lalwani

Yes, the author has succinctly portrayed the curse so called "gifted" children have to go through in life. The parents want to showcase their gifted children and bask in the reflected glory. Some want to profit monetarily from their children's God given gift and push them beyond what their age should allow. In the process the children are deprived of the joys of their childhood. They are pushed continuously to enhance and prove their gift.

I cannot imagine what fun there can be in joining college at 12 years and have no peers of your age to talk to. How do you take part in the quirky activities of college going youngsters if you are a kid who should be in school. Who of us has not gone through the anguish of being kept out of action by older siblings, older neighborhood kids and gangs of which you are not allowed to be a part because of your being too young.

If you become a doctor at the age of 17, who will come to you for treatment. Where from will you get the maturity to deal with the problems of adults, suffering from various problems, when physically and emotionally you are yourself going through the pains of adolescence. Can you be a surgeon at 14 except in TV serials?

The performing arts do provide an area where such gifts can be presented to public who will admire the gifts. But there is an element of being put up on show like a curiosity ala a bearded woman. What effect it will have on the psyche of a growing child - is very well brought out in this book.

The book has a beautiful ending which brings out the anguish of every child who was gifted and then collared by her ambitious parents to forget her childhood and work only on her gift. The child is forced to study in the cold as it sharpens the mind. Not being allowed to be a child is the biggest punishment. Of what use is a gift which takes away your childhood.

The cumin seed addiction is an artistic touch. When pushed beyond endurance the child tries to find solace in an addiction. It could have been cigarettes, alcohol or drugs if this middle class Indian child had access to that kind of funds. But end result is the same. The child runs away from her gift and even disowns the parents.

This book portrays the agony of a gifted child who failed. But what about gifted children who succeeded. Has their agony been any less?

Everybody knows of the child stars who are forced to remain a kid for the longest period by the parents and then become a wreck as adults. Many become victims of jealous competitors and are even physically eliminated or made incapable of performing.

The oldest case in India I can remember is of child singer Master Madan who was supposed to be the next K.L.Saigal, but was allegedly poisoned when he was barely 14. The most recent case is of the 5 years old Budhia of Orissa who was made to run 40 kilometers or so everyday by his trainer. What inhuman torture.
There was a swimmer called Bula Chowdhary, tennis star Chang. Where are they now?

Mythology is full of stories of gifted children who were spiritually gifted as children and ended up renouncing life and many died very young. As if they paid in years for what they received in extraordinary intellect and spiritual strength at a young age.
Rishi Ved Vyas, started growing as soon as he was born and immediately became an ascetic. Rishi Ashtavakra, was precociously learned while in his mother’s womb and dared to correct his father. So was cursed to be born all twisted up by his own father. Adi Sankara the most towering intellect of Hinduism died at the young age of 32.

Such examples are everywhere. Unfortunately, only the talent and fame are recorded, the agony of the child is seen by very few. The author has expressed the trauma with genuine emotion. To be gifted as a child may actually be a curse. The author has beautifully portrayed this dilemma of humankind.


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