A couple of days back, late into the evening, I felt the urge to draw. Not portraits or landscapes. Something simpler. Like a cartoon. Hattori! I googled for “How to draw Hattori” and found a step wise guide. I grabbed a ball pen and a sheet and began to follow the instructions like an eager kid. The first draw was difficult. Hattori’s right hand was longer than his left. Also, I did not have any space for his chin after drawing his big eyes. But, one could make out it was Hattori. That was encouraging. So, I tried one more time. This time Hattori looked more proportional. With the third try, Hattori was all shaded and held proudly by a 25 year old as an achievement.
I was excited after this mini success. Doraemon was next to follow. I then landed on a cute drawing of two cubs titled “Tigers (for kids)“. They were so adorable, I nearly picked them up off the screen. It was decided. I was going to draw these. There was a childlike enthusiasm in me as I hurriedly tried to draw them. The second cub didn’t come out as well. But the first came out to be a small cute sketch of a baby tiger making a puppy face. I loved it! I rushed to interrupt my mother in the middle of a phone call and show her the little tiger. Her face lit up, partly from the surprise that I had drawn something and partly from the genuine happiness the cub radiated. Her smile was the ultimate reward. Contentedly, I walked back to the couch and sat on it, staring at the feats of my past hour – Hattori, Doraemon and a cub.
I smiled as I recalled the eagerness in me as I drew. I hadn’t experienced that kind of enthusiasm in a while. It felt refreshing. It made me wonder why I got this urge all of a sudden. Suppressed instincts to express? And why did I enjoy it so much? Because of the sense of achievement? It didn’t seem that way. It was neither the satisfaction after writing a heartfelt blog post nor the high of a well received presentation. This was something much simpler. That was it! It was simple. It was innocent. I was told what to do by the how-to guide. I did not take decisions or contemplate. I trusted the guide. It felt good to follow instructions with trust. I tried many times without counting, without looking around to see who was watching. I did not worry about how the drawing would come out. Very conveniently I avoided the second cub which did not come out well. I ran to my mother to show the cute cub. I did not worry about whose original idea it was and that I had only copied the drawing. I felt happy, and I shared the happiness. I felt like a child.
Increasingly I see articles which tell us how to read kids when they are young. How to deduce more and more from their seemingly childish activities. How trying to draw is an attempt, what they draw is a step to understanding the world, how they draw is a skill to be worked on and trying again a method of learning perseverance after failure. When they show you their drawing, they are looking for encouragement. Too much praise could make them arrogant, too much criticism could discourage them. And so on.
But, I had experienced nothing of that sort. Or maybe I had. Just a little. If Hattori hadnt come out right after the third attempt, maybe the cub would not have been attempted. And maybe if people had highly praised my drawings, I would have dreamt of a future of a professional cartoonist. But, no. That entire endeavour was not representative of my nature. It was an attempt to be innocent. An attempt to keep it simple. To enjoy an activity and to enjoy its results.
We demand a lot from what we do. An activity is seen as a means of expression or learning. It is evaluated along prescribed measures. Even when the child is not ready for evaluation. An action is viewed as a manifestation of a thought, a glimpse into the psychology of the child. We observe kids like eagles, scrutinise their every action, attach serious intentions to each action and translate our own emotions of these intentions onto them. But, the intentions we impose on the kids might be totally alien to them. The emotions they associate with the activity could be completely different. They might not want to feel arrogant or confident. They might just want to feel – happy. They might not be fishing for your praise or a reward. They might just be waiting to see a smile on your face. They are very happy. Their love makes them want to pass it on to you too. In this simplicity and in this innocence lies a freedom. A freedom from reasons and objectives. A freedom to experience and share, unabashedly. In spite of the lurking reality of the complexity of their own emotions and the world. In spite of grappling with the knowledge of it all. A freedom to smile from within.
I did not draw to express. I did not draw to impress. I did not draw to learn. I drew because I felt it was a good thing to do. I drew because it made me happy. I drew because it made others happy.