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Fear of the unknown

Most of us have unhealthy thoughts and emotions that have either developed as a result of trauma or hardships in childhood, or the way we were raised.

There have been times I almost got a persecution complex. I felt like people wouldn't let me grow up. They always saw me as a smiling kid . But behind that smile, were hidden several complexes which surfaced from time to time. They say a man is product of his circumstances. Science shows that life is a story for which the beginning sets the tone. That makes the early years of childhood a time of great opportunity, but also great risk.

Children’s brains are built, moment by moment, as they interact with their environments. In the first few years of life, more than one million neural connections are formed each second – a pace never repeated again. The quality of a child’s experiences makes a critical difference as their brains develop, providing either strong or weak foundations for learning, health and behaviour throughout life.

Neurons (also called nerve cells) are the fundamental units of the brain. These cells are responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world, and for sending motor commands to our muscles.

Early childhood offers opportunity to shape a child’s holistic development and build a foundation for their future. In a bid to achieve their full potential, children need health care and nutrition . They also need protection , a sense of security and opportunities for early learning. They also require responsive caregiving.

This includes talking, singing and playing with parents and caregivers who love them. All this is needed to nourish developing brains and fuel growing bodies.

Millions of children are not receiving the nutrition or health care they need. They grow up exposed to violence, polluted environments and extreme stress. They miss out on opportunities to learn and are deprived of the stimulation needed to develop their brain. Their parents and caregivers struggle to get the time, resources and services necessary to provide their children with nurturing care.

If I speak about children of my generation, they had the worst deal at the hands of destiny. Seventy five years ago, I was just a child , four years old. Worst tragedy of the century happened. Our country was partitioned by the British with approval of our leaders. Only one who opposed it was Mahatma Gandhi.

India was divided and a new country Pakistan, was created . At the time of independence of the country on 15 august ,1947, Gandhi ji was in faraway Noakhali , now Bangladesh , dousing communal fires.

The common man, had to pay a heavy price for it. Millions of families of Hindus, Muslims and others, including ours were uprooted and forced to migrate. Unfortunately, we were living in that part of country, now called Pakistan. My seven generations had lived in Rawalpindi. Ours was a well- to-do family.

My father had built a new house just a year before partition at Haripura, Rawalpindi. It was a haveli with huge courtyard in the middle and rooms all around it. I can vouch for it as I visited this place in 1980. People of the area received me with open arms. There was no sign of any animosity.

Partition was the biggest tragedy of the century. Rape, arson and killings were the order of the day. Millions lost their lives and millions their homes. With the grace of god, we managed to escape bloodshed and reached Delhi with empty pockets.

We could not bring any of the valuables with us. My father at that difficult time was in Peshawar. He was serving in British Militia. His house was set on fire by a gang of rioters. He was rescued by his British friends, who put him on a flight to Delhi. Fortunately, he got a government job and house in Lodhi colony.

I had a sensitive mind and trauma of partition haunted me for a long time. There was not a day when I did not hear stories of partition time. This weakened my psyche. Most of the time I felt as if someone was stalking me. It was becoming difficult for me to trust people. I was growing up as a weak child for lack of nutrition.

We were a family of ten and my father was only earning member. I was troubled by a weak psyche, weak body and weak eyesight. As children, we had strict instructions not to stay out after dark. These were troubled times. By and by, I started fearing darkness.

When alone, I would imagine and see ghosts and spirits in darkness. My mother noticed all this , tried her best to dispel my fears but could not do much about it. She was a highly religious lady and had firm belief in God. One day, she came to me with a locket of lord Hanuman. She placed it in my hand and said, son, this is solution to all your problems. Wear this locket with reverence and pray to monkey God. With his blessings, you will become a confident and brave boy.

I bowed before my mother, touched her feet and accepted the locket humbly. Ma, I have full faith in you and you have divine faith in Hanuman ji. I shall do as you say. I prayed to Ram Bhakt Hanuman, touched locket with my forehead and wore it around my neck. She also presented me with a small booklet, Hanuman Chalisa. She instructed me to remember it by heart and. recite it with utmost faith and reverence . All your troubles will be gone in no time. I respected and loved my mother the most on this earth.

I looked into eyes of my mother which were tender with love and emotions. Ma, I said, your wish is my command. It shall be done. I remembered Chalisa by heart and started reciting it touching my locket every now and then.

I do not know the reason. I have no explanation. But I started feeling more confident . I was now also less afraid of darkness. But at the same time, I got a feeling as if Hanuman ji is with me all the time. My mother got bit scared. What if Hanuman ji gives darshan to my son. It may be too much for him to bear. These after all were fears and feelings of a mother. She quietly took the locket from my neck, seeking forgiveness of Pawan Putra Hanuman. She installed the locket in our home temple.

Lord Hanuman was one of my favourite gods. I loved his determination, courage , loyalty and daring. During our times in early fifties, Ramlila and devotional plays were only source of entertainment for masses. I loved it when Hanuman ji crossed sea and entered Ravana’s Lanka in search of Sita ji. The way, he destroyed Ashok Vatika and the way he sets Lanka on fire were spell binding. I also loved the way he carries entire mountain in search of Sanjivani to save life of Lakshmana, younger brother of Rama.

His devotion for Lord Rama was unmatched. As a child, I collected all the spare clothes in the house to make main weapon of monkey god, called Gadha. I would I move in the house with my Gadha and hit my sisters with it.

When they complained to mother, she just said laughing, your brother is just playing with you. I was also very fond of playing role of Hanuman in our street plays. I loved the scene of Ashok Vatika, which we created in our area by tying toffees and candies with small shrubs. My role required me to destroy Ashok Vatika and loot various candies and toffees . My other friends, took a promise from me that we all will share the loot. I will get little more since I was playing role of Hanuman.

Lord Hanuman is a Ram Devotee and a central character of Ramayana. He is also 11th Rudra Avatar of God Shiva. Exploits and qualities of Hanuman ji have been listed as devotional hymns in Hanuman Chalisa, written by Tulsidas in Awadhi language. The saint poet is mainly known for Ram Charitra Manas, Ramayana in Awadhi language.

As the name suggests, Hanuman Chalisa consists of 40 verses. Besides, two verses are in the beginning and one at the end, In all 43 verses. The qualities of lord Hanuman – his strength, courage, wisdom, celibacy, devotion to Lord Rama and the many names by which he is known , are detailed in the Hanuman Chalisa.

Tulsidas belonged to Varanasi . Place where he wrote Hanuman Chalisa is now known as Tulsi Ghat. Tulsidas was a saint philosopher, reformer and philosopher known for his devotion to lord Rama. The credit for starting Ram Lila based on Ramayana also goes to him. He lived and died in Banaras only.

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