Sunday, March 30, 2014

Children's Mind - the little memories that remain indelible

Franz Kafka's Letter to his Father is tied up in my mind with a tiny incident which still makes me feel guilty. Chances are that I recall this incident because I was told about it as I was growing up.

My father was keen that my grandmother learn to read. She started to read headlines. She was too embarrassed to keep asking my mother or father so would ask me instead. It seems that I lost my patience once and said that "How many times have I told you that".

My grandmother told my father that I was right and that she was too old to learn. There was no way that I could undo the damage I had done and still remember it even when I am a grandfather.

Perhaps that's why the following sentence deeply affected me when I read Kafka in my college days. The way a child interprets events is not necessarily the way we(adults) expect:

I am not going to say that this was wrong—perhaps there was really no other way of getting peace and quiet that night—but I mention it as typical of your methods of bringing up a child and their effect on me. I dare say I was quite obedient afterward at that period, but it did me inner harm.