Me and the Little Alien

I’d rolled my eyes when my younger sibling purchased it.

“Why don’t you try reading something real for a change? This is for kids”, I remember admonishing him.

Thankfully, he had the sense to ignore my comment. Because if he hadn’t, I would never have come to know that there exists a part in me that has refused to grow up.

I still clearly remember the day I came across it.

It was a lazy afternoon. The maid was cleaning my room. She had just done the mopping and had given me strict instructions to not walk over the wet floor. I was restless. And when I get restless, I read. But thanks to the maid’s stern glare, I couldn’t go to my room where all my lovely books were.

So, I tottered over to the hall to find something from the bookcase full of my father’s collection. But before I could reach it my gaze landed on a bright blue book lying on the pale sofa. Giving a sigh, I decided to explore the book I’d so pompously branded as “for-kids”.

So, I casually picked it up and opened it to a random page. I started reading it. And before I knew what was happening, I was laughing. Laughing real hard.

The book I am talking about is ‘Diary of a wimpy Kid: Rodrick rules”. It is the second book in the Wimpy kid series. I read it all that night and polished off the rest of the series soon.

They aren’t books really but kind of graphic novels with black and white cartoon scene depictions which the author himself draws. In fact, the drawings can actually be considered their piece de resistance. They are out-of-this-world hilarious.

And they are for pre-teens, which I am not. So why do I cackle up every time I read one of those? Is my sense of humor so underdeveloped that I will guffaw at a drawing of a hairless skinny boy running backwards with his butt sticking out?

At first I thought it was something that would fade away. I thought I couldn’t possibly find them appealing for a long time.

Then came my encounter with animated movies. I randomly saw ‘Monster vs Aliens’ one time and since then I have not looked back. I find the movies absolutely riveting. They are hilarious. They are moving. They are imaginative. They are creative. They are every bit lovable.

My doubts about having a childlike soul were confirmed when I saw Modern Family. Its character Phil Dunphy is the perfect example of an overgrown kid. And the perfect example of a person who is genuinely happy most of the time. He became, for me, the most appealing screen character and I still laugh whenever I incessantly binge watch the series.

After this confirmation, I accepted it. I happily accepted that the kid in many of us never dies. We just suppress it with responsibilities. We quieten it with worries. We replace the carefree laughter with a placid smile. We turn instant friendships into awkward social gatherings. We replace getting high on anything with getting high on just weed. We start thinking from our brains and forget the heart. From forgiving instantly we decide to hold grudges. From being involuntarily loved by everyone we voluntarily start craving acceptance.

The kid’s power diminishes, sure. But it does not fade away completely. It is still present in all of us. Just like the sun hidden behind the clouds on rainy days, the warm kid just gets buried beneath the dark clouds of ego and misery. But it struggles to get out of the societal facade. It is a child after all, and children tend to be stubborn. We see fragments of its struggle when we come across anything that provokes it, be it a comic book or a cartoon series.

I soon realized that I was not alone. Many of my peers had the same taste. Their child like part was every bit as dominant as mine.

But there are many who have bottled it up pretty hard, those who still relate animation with children. They wrinkle their noses when suggested such a movie. They take their children out to these for a ‘kids-day out’ and patiently sit through the movie without really paying much attention to it.

But they must understand that most of these are not really for kids. They are actually aimed at an adult audience. An audience so obsessed with getting complex answers to every situation that it forgets that life can actually be explained in a simpler way. Inside Out wonderfully elaborated to us that sadness is equally important to happiness. Megamind taught us that not all evil people are bad. Wreck-it Ralph showed that ‘hero’ is just a useless label when, in fact, everyone has a hero inside them. These movies are not for kids, oh no. They are to completely bring out the kid in the miserable grown-ups. These movies can make you laugh as hard as The Big Lebowski. And they can leave you as teary-eyed as Titanic.

I still haven’t completely embraced the kid in me. Many times I hear it banging its fists at the closed door, begging me to let it out. Like when my first impulse is to laugh loudly at a joke in a sophisticated restaurant but I just clench my mouth shut and giggle stupidly. Or when I smell mud on rainy days and want to scoop it up and eat it but all I am left with is to stare at a ubiquitous Snapchat rain story on my phone.

Maybe I will open the door completely one day. Maybe not.

But I still make sure that I let it out so that it is not completely trapped. I watch the trailer of The Lego movie with as much excitement as the next Nolan. I sit with my 6-year old cousin and laugh along with him while he watches Doremon.

And my brother is not the only one in the house who buys Wimpy kid anymore.