To the tune of an unknown Pied Piper we dance

I woke up to a sustained noise. A noise coming from outside. A noise which pushed me out of my bed and look outside. I saw people running. They seemed to be hypnotized as if spellbound by some unknown Pied piper tune. Eyes wide open but they looked blindfolded and their minds clouded. Without a pause, without a thought! A mixed crowd of men, women and children full of energy and momentum was running on the road!

I wasn’t sure what was happening but was desperate to know. I paced up. As I joined, few — no many faces seemed familiar.

“Hey what’s all this about?” — I tried probing a female finding it hard to keep up the pace.

As she tried catching her breath, she said “Are you a parent or a prospective parent or an expecting parent? “ Her voice broken.

I nodded “Yes, I am a mother of two — 7 and 3” .

“So run along , don’t stop — because if you stop you will miss the race! If you want to do any good to your children, just keep running, where are your kids — pull them too!”

“But where to and how long?” I was curious to know.

“Don’t ask questions! That isn’t allowed, if you want your child to excel and be successful in life — join the race. Look around” And she dashed ahead!

I was confused. I thought about my sleeping beauties lost in their reveries, how can I pull them in this race? Impossible!

But did I have any option?

Looking around I realized there were many shops — selling school education, hobbies, sports, extra curricular and some even sold culture and values for children. Everything was available and up for sale — the shopwallas worked very hard indeed as they sold their respective commodities. The participants stopped momentarily — spoke to those who sold. And in this process of buying and selling, a pressure was built up. Though in a subtle way, yet constantly building up bit by bit.

Deliberations and decisions led to closures. Closures got the parents placards which they held or stuck as a badge. Maximize was the rule accompanied with boasting and flaunting. There was an invisible pressure all around. Something which flowed as an undercurrent. As a logical consequence — most of the pressure was being passed on to the kids who were forced into the race. Big to small to the smallest ! Kids of all ages. Bookings and registrations even for those who weren’t born yet! Some of the children cried as they begged and requested to be spared but in that clouded state of mind— no one was spared. The kids were pulled, pushed, berated and also hit. The message was clear — Take the pressure, bend, bow whatever and not just persist but excel. It all seemed like a pressure cooker at the verge of blowing!

I felt exhausted and tired. I kept trying to push my kids but my efforts went futile. The immense pressure suffocated me as I was unable to keep up to with the pace. I started shouting — “Help! Help!”.

And my dream broke!

Yes, yesterday night I had a dream. A dream not too distant from reality. A dream about the pressure cooker parenting! A dream about encouraging an underlying pressure, of pushing kids in a constant competition and fear.

And as I mindlessly tried to succumb to it — pulling my children in that state of pressure, competitiveness or may be my own unfulfilled aspirations — I responded to an unknown Pied Piper tune not knowing where I was taking my children to — Being successful may be but what about being happy?

When, lo! as they reached the mountain-side, 
 A wondrous portal opened wide, 
 As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed; 
 And the Piper advanced and the children followed, 
 And when all were in to the very last, 
 The door in the mountain-side shut fast.

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