It is generally said that we remember many of our misfortunes and on very few occasions only do we remember our joys. The recollection of the past normally appears to be sweet. Very often what gives one unhappiness at the moment it happens, may appear in a different light when thought of at a later date. It so happens that some feel that their past had been happy, in spite of many unfortunate or sorrowful incidents, or, disappointments. Similarly, others may feel that their past was not worth remembering so full of misfortunes it had been. In the same manner, such opinion ‘s may be held about our childhood.
A person may not like to remember his childhood days because they might have contained misfortunes or unpleasant experiences. At the beginning of life, a child is at the mercy of its parents. The child does not have any freedom of action or speech. Under the pretext that the child is prone to do mischief, others put it down and command implicit obedience from it. Sometimes, the child becomes the butt end of ridicule or punishment of even servants. When the child attains school – going age, he is under the control of teachers. In most of our schools children in the lower classes are expected to observe absolute silence. This breeds in them an inferiority or fear-complex. It is not generally understood by teachers in the lower classes that children should be given much freedom only retraining for themselves the privilege of controlling the children who might be wayward or mischievous, or when they tend to go beyond the limit of right conduct.
When such is the experiences of childhood, many persons may not like to think back upon those days. The bitterness felt in childhood is best be forgotten, they feel. It would be an unwelcome or bitter thing to bring back into the mind, the memory of unpleasant incidents or experiences and allow them to spoil the happiness of later life. In a country like India,where poverty ignorance and illiteracy dominate daily life, a child in the lower strata of life has to experience much misery. Each day of existence is one round of journey through hell. To add to these difficulties, if the surroundings and family circumstances are uncongenial, the child’s life may be absolutely intolerable and miserable. This child may in course of time be successful in life through a change of fortune or by dint of honest efforts at improvement, thus revealing a forceful character such cases, the person concerned may not like to remember childhood days. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suffered a lot during his childhood days but now he became an inspirational character in History.
However, it cannot be said that childhood days are always bitter and to be forgotten in later life. There are children born with a silver spoon in their mouth. In a family, where discipline is given foremost importance or in a family in which children are brought up with strictness tempered with mercy and kindness, the child may have happy experiences. It may be treated with kindness and understanding and may get all advantages of good breeding and training. The memory of such a childhood would be sweet to one who rises to an eminent position or is reasonably happy later on in life. It may also so happen that one who had several advantages in early life turns out to be bad or goes astray as one grows up. This may be because such a person growing up with several advantages might not be aware of the pitfalls of life. Such people also might not like to think of their childhood.
Life however is not of one uniform quality. It is neither wholly happy nor wholly unhappy. It is a mixture of the good and the bad, virtue and vice, it has its rosy side as well as the seamy side. In the life of an individual childhood consists of both these aspects and therefore, the memory of childhood may not be entirely bitter or sweet. The natural tendency of human beings in such cases is to think more of sorrow than of the joys experienced. Sorrows and miseries and misfortunes leave an indelible mark on the humankind. When one looks at one’s life in retrospect, only these experiences come first to the mind. Joyful experiences find only a secondary place though at the time they happen, they afford pleasure and satisfaction.
A successful novelist like Charles Dickens gave greater importance to the sorrowful and more unfortunate aspects of life than to the good fortunes enjoyed by some of the characters in his novels like ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Oliver Twist’. The life of these two characters might be said to be almost reflections of the novelist ‘s life or the mirror of the miserable life of society of the times. Very rarely do people remember the joys of the earlier period. It is such an idea that Shelley speaks of the lines, “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of the Saddest thoughts” – words full of wisdom and experience.