On the Playground

July 8, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Verses + Vignettes, World + People + Events | 6 Comments
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The children are scattered all over the playground.

Two girls with fat ponytails sit on the steps. Their plastic dolls don’t blink or frown. They only smile. With their teeth showing. And when one of the girls yanks out a strand of hair, the doll doesn’t wince or protest. She just keeps on smiling.
The girls keep their play to themselves. They recite their doll’s dialogues in hushed voices. They have the dolls cry softly. Laugh delicately. Sing inaudibly.

Because the girls want to keep their World to themselves. They are careful not to let anybody else be a part of it. They don’t want them to shatter it, their world of silent shouts and whispered weddings.

The dolls don’t mind, because they don’t have one to do so.

Over there, by the swing, the children sway to and fro. They lurch forwards only to be instantly pulled backwards again. Whoosh. They rise higher and higher, chests heaving with each lurch, but just as they put out their fingers to reach out and touch the invisible wall, they are summoned backwards again. As though the Swing is determined to let them go only so far. The breeze cuts through their hair; or do the children cut through the breeze?

A queue of children await their turn on the swing, getting more impatient with each lurch.
The Swing knows.

A few girls huddle on a grassy patch, their self-willed skipping ropes resolutely refusing to be perfectly Skipped.

‘England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Inside, outside, inside, on!’

But the ropes don’t obey. They get caught up in the feet every time.
One, two, three, four. The Ropes refuse.

On the seesaw two kids play.

Up and Down are like two siblings who never seem to agree. They always fight and never seem to last long, because Up becomes Down and Down becomes Up.

The voices of the children drift over the lazy air.

‘Queenie, Queenie, who’s got the ball?
Are they short, or are they tall?’

The Queenie sees with her ears.

’Are they hairy, or are they bald?
You don’t know because you don’t have the ball!’

She turns around. And listens with her eyes.

The children play.

They don’t know that the swing that controls them is only another form of the society that they will live in as adults.
They don’t know that their precious stories will inevitably be splintered, modified, and crushed someday.
They don’t know that the ropes that rebel are nothing compared to those they will come to know when they grow older – the superficial, the ignorant, the narrow-minded tunnel visioned ropes of human beings.
And the seesaws are only a feeble reflection of the world they live in, riddled with inequalities and injustices, that crashes around them everyday.

They just play.

A boy with curly locks squashes ants on the porch.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed.
A girl fumbles with a yo-yo.
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
The class bully intimidates the kids on the merry-go-round.
Chip chop, the old man is dead.


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  1. Thanks for visiting my site and leaving feedback! I love your writing and use of words. It definitely rings true that the things we do in childhood are related to adult life.

  2. Just want to say that your words take me back to my youth; I have memories of the ants (I never squished, but would watch as they would dance around the pathway as I pushed my cars down the slope – racing my cars against a friend’s; cheering or jeering as I won or lost); a time lost in nostalgia I’m afraid and more than a world away now. Was I ever so innocent, so untouched by experience?

    I question your negativity; the world is in balance – there are inequalities, there are injustices; but there is also joy, simple pleasures. Smiles and happiness to be found. It is a world away from the childhood we once had when we lacked responsibility, when we were less aware of the world.

    And we can fight; we know what is right – just because things are the way they are, doesn’t mean we have to accept them.

  3. ^^Yes you are right about the simple pleasures in life.

    But, while you’d do well to cherish these, you cannot afford to ignore the other side of it altogether.

    Acceptance is the first step to surviving this world.

  4. Your observation of childhood is truthful and yet unsettling, the children play blissfully unaware of the unspoken truth beyond the phyicality of the playground.
    But as you say “Acceptance is the first step to surviving this world” which resonates clearly in my mind when thinking about the playful children, and i wonder whether the children are unaware of those negative sides or that they unlike most of us older beings able to wholey accept he negativity as negativity and embrace positivity and play.

  5. @bekkyisme: hmm, you know, I guess it’s a kind of defence mechanism human beings develop as they age. As a child, you’re simple and straightforward. No pretence, do defence. A child is, above everything else, innocent. That innocence is stirred or attacked by the things we see and experience as we grow older, depending upon the experience.

    A single incident can affect a child more powerfully than it can an adult. Something snaps open in your soul…and you’re only the passive observer. For you are still a child. That can make you either very much sensitive or very much indifferent – again, extremes on the spectrum of human behaviour.

  6. […] – bookmarked by 4 members originally found by Thupore on July 19, 2008 On the Playground https://ilovemint.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/on-the-playground/ – bookmarked by 2 members originally […]

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