Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Boy Who Silenced Me



I attended a mental health awareness event last Sunday and I displayed the video above at the event along with artworks from various people. Since this video has a healing aspect to it, I figured it was a suitable piece to display at the event.

A cute boy came to me, pulled my arm to get my attention, and said, "Could you please turn the video off? I don't like it."

I was stunned.

I smiled and wanted to know more about what this boy was thinking. I asked that we watched the video together and he can tell me what he thinks. So there he was, narrating every minute of my video. He didn't like the fact that I was punched by a guy in the video.

I asked him, "What do you think?"

He said, "I don't like it. You have to turn it off."

I was very careful with what I said to this boy because I was on the verge of sending the wrong message. I was very afraid. I smiled more than I talked. This boy has muted me. Thankfully, his father was there and he explained to his son. This is the abridged version of the conversation between the father and the boy:

Boy: I don't like it. The guy punched him.

Father: But look, he got back up. That's the point.

Boy: Well, I don't like it.

Father: Son, sometimes you have to accept the things you don't like (i.e. you can't have everything your way all the time).

His father smiled at me and I smiled at him. I was relieved that he was there. He knows his son best and how to speak to him. Alhamdulillah, I think he handled the situation beautifully. He and many others understood the video. I displayed the video without the background music and still, people got it.

That was what Umar Mita and I intended when we made this video together. We wanted people to add their own flavours to it. I prefer not to give people answers. I prefer to allow people to get to the answers themselves; allow them to think and to reflect. Things can have more than one answers and more than one answers can be correct. On top of that, how you interpret things shows a lot about who you are; you can learn more about yourself.

The reason why I'm writing this isn't to explain the video. The reason why I'm writing this is two-fold.

First, I am amazed at how active the children that I see here in the west. Their curiosity isn't suppressed. They ask questions and give opinions. The best part is this: their parents allow it and encourage it. They let kids be kids. Let them explore. Let them learn. The parents are there to guide and not to suppress.

Like the boy's father, he didn't tell his son to shut up or tell his son that he's just a kid and don't know any better. No. The father explained and guided him. He gave him a beautiful lesson: in life, you don't always like what you see and you don't always get what you want.

I watched a video on Youtube once where a man said, "Kids are little, but they're not stupid."

Second, I realized how huge of a responsibility being a parent is. I was terrified to say the wrong things. What if the boy was my own son? How should I respond to him? Would he understand?

I know that I can't isolate my children to the world. That wouldn't solve anything. Even if I lock my children in my house 24/7, my children will face the world eventually. They can't stay under my wings forever. So the best thing that I can do as a father is to equip them with the knowledge and understanding to face the world and to make the right decision when the situation calls for it. If I am to equip my children, I have to first equip myself and that process starts now.

My children will have to walk on their own two feet one way or the other. When they do, I hope they walk towards the right direction.

Posing by my display section. Nothing fancy.
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Aiman Azlan
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