Freedom of Expression

This article has been influenced by the movie Taare Zameen Par.

Is expressiveness a necessary mandate in the language of communication? Ishaan Awasthi is just like any other child, but sadly enough suffers from dyslexia, a neurological disorder which disables his normal brain processing to judge and discriminate shapes of alphabets, memorize and cognize them when confronted again. This abnormality does not allow him to perform daily task with the ease that other children of his age can.

His parents are not able to reciprocate to his needs of support, love and understanding and constantly pressurize him to perform in studies, a pressure that he is not at all able to take, nor talk about it. He has developed a fear to express himself to his parents and starts resenting all their efforts, to make him understand the need for his performance in order to survive in this over – competitive world, go for a toss. Exasperated and not able to comprehend his behavior, his parents send him to a boarding school much to his dislike.

Ishaan had an uncanny ability of painting and through his painting he used to express himself, but it needed a sensitive eye to notice the pain expressed in his paintings. His elder brother being a scholar – performer, his parents wanted him to follow his elder brother’s footsteps but in this process, all of them got alienated from him. His inability to perform and stand up to the expectations of his parents brutally murdered his self – confidence and this further drove him away from his family. To depict this pain he painted a series of paintings of his parents, his brother and himself and in each painting he used to move himself away a little bit. When the paintings were dropped in a sequence, it depicted his slow alienation from his family, his support system and his recession into the oblivion of loneliness and silence.

The pain which small, innocent and fragile Ishaan could not express through words took the form of brush strokes. The messages he used to convey through his paintings at a tender age of 9 had the potential to rattle the hearts of grown-ups as well. The mode of communication that Ishaan developed was certainly off – track but the compulsion underlying the foundation of its development was nurtured and nourished by this inability of the society to understand pain and its various forms of expression. The view that words are the only form of efficient communication and other form of arts like painting, literature and music are just modes of recreation is what fuels the sad reality of unfortunately different souls like Ishaan finding it difficult to survive in this world.

Such sad reception of other forms of art has also led to euphoria in the society that until and unless a child performs in studies and gets topper marks; he has no stay and say in this ultra – competitive world. Even if the child has some serious problem, continuing in his studies and has some other talents that he wants to develop, he is forbidden to do so till he does not rebel against it and ensure that he has his own way. This could be easy for a normal child but for a visibly compromised child like Ishaan who craves for understanding to convey his inabilities, resentment and resorting to rebellious techniques to nurture his talent cannot be an easy task.

If the liveliness of such a child is killed in the initial foundation days then the society stands the risk of losing invaluable talents. In today’s world everyone wants their child to be a topper, a doctor, an engineer or an MBA and parents put a lot of pressure on their kids to perform. This puts the kid in a spot and makes him feel guilty if he fails. Such thoughts act as poisons to creative talent and do not allow it to flourish and blossom.

Communication is a powerful tool and nature has its own beautiful methods of doing so which are devoid of any words. Birds chirping, winds blowing, flowers blossoming, all convey some message to us. A message that just doing a humdrum and slumber job and arranging finances is not life. It is just one of the ways to live life and should not replace the actual beauty life is. Ishaan did this in a wonderful manner through his paintings and showed it to the world that an unfortunate child like who is still struggling to identify alphabets, a task his contemporaries do without an iota of unease, can perform wonders even without support. Wonder what his capabilities could have been, had his parents understood him and not put a pressure on him to perform the way other kids perform and not put the constraint of verbal communication of expressiveness on him.

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