Tainted soul

Every night when I would put my babies to sleep

I would whisper, “you remain you, pure and innocent

don’t let the world tarnish your pristine sheen”

but alas it couldn’t be so!

as they grew up I was the first

to soil their pure soul with a teeny-weeny spot

when I taught them to be wary of strangers

then their teacher crumpled their soul a bit

when she favoured those brighter than them

or when their father reminded them that

they were luckier than others

to have food on their table

gradually as they grew older

someone or the other who was family or friend

tainted their soul bit by bit

and left their mark

branding and distorting their soul

infinitesimally every time

believe me it was all done with good intentions always

for that was our way of teaching values

their well-being the foremost thought

in our collective minds and hearts

now when I see them shying

away from helping strangers

or being discriminatory in their behaviour

I wonder if we did the right thing

in inculcating fear, doubt and guilt in them

so now I dedicate my time helping them

unlearn those feelings that weigh them down

so that there is a spring in their step

and lightness in their heart,

their soul tainted but more accepting

as they embrace life on their own.

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63 thoughts on “Tainted soul

  1. Wow, this really touched me, and yes, we teach them to take care of themselves. It raises good questions for me about how do we do that without squashing the nurturing and selfless side of humanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is such profoundly insightful poem, Punam! I recall I was about eight or nine years old, the roof was being replaced and the men had gone home for the day. I was playing on their scaffolding — about five feet off the ground, hanging upside down.

    Mom came out of the house and in a voice uncharacteristically fearful and/or deeply concerned told me to be very careful. I can date my fear of heights to that day and moment.

    Strange to me now how unusual it was to hear fear in her voice. I can only suppose she was taken by surprise — or perhaps was recalling some accident she’d witnessed or had been involved in.

    Such a good poem, Punam! Thank you so much!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I was not sure I would be able to put across clearly that while safeguarding our kids we instil in them thoughts and feelings that have negative connotations too. Thank you so much Paul for sharing and for giving credence to my worries.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen to that, Bojana. Never had kids, but some years ago, I learned so much from a boy and girl I babysat for a friend. For instance, one day the girl, Leah, asked me for a dollar. I had a bit extra, so I gave her one.

      She immediately gave it to a homeless person who wasn’t even panhandling. I had not noticed him although he was less than ten feet away. That was the real lesson to me — how often I overlooked homeless people — despite having been one myself.

      They boy, Aaron, was just as compassionate and observant as his older sister, but in his own way.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh!! Another profound gem here Punam. There are so many balancing acts to juggle as a parent, this resonated very strongly with me โค๏ธ. Children are both so resilient and so vulnerable. The mama bear instinct is ferocious, and itโ€™s easy to become โ€œoverprotectiveโ€. Itโ€™s heartbreaking when children become wary of themselves and the world, and especially when their belief in themselves is knocked. Sigh. The challenges and never-ending anxiety and ferocious love of parent-hood. Awesome post. x R

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, R. As a parent one keeps wondering if what one is doing is right or not , more so in the times we live. Voicing these concerns and listening to other parents helps one to correct course. Once again thank you, for adding your voice to it. โค๏ธ

      Liked by 1 person

  4. parenthood is tough and if we knew the ‘right’ way we would give the book to every eleven year old!

    Having worked in child protection for years, stranger danger is exceedingly rare … most harm comes from those close. Family or friends who with comments or intention harm their souls or touch their private parts …

    There is no right answer but if I had feared strangers or differences I could not have travelled so broadly mostly hitching and camping across the continents … they may miss so much enriching joy ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Kate. It is usually family or friends who turn predators. But here abduction and kidnapping is a real threat too. Kids have been kidnapped on their way home/school.
      There is no right way to bring up kids and our times were lesser fraught with dangers or may be our parents did not overthink every situation. That is why the things we did, I don’t allow my kids to do!
      As always your inputs are precious. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The problem with parents is that they overthink when it comes to their children, these young unblemished souls will get the taint no matter what the parents do and they will learn/unlearn or form opinions on their own as they grow, just like the parents did. I guess the most one can do is to introduce the children to the good and the bad about the world in equanimity.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, My Dear! One has to be careful about what we pass on to our children to be sure!! I had to raise my two daughters to be super careful around strangers as there were numerous abductions of young girls. Sometimes you have to balance certain values against others. I chose safety first, but also taught them about the Good Samaritan too.
    Xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lucky are those who have such parents to help them unlearn. Many go through life always wary of the world around them. Beautifully written, Punam.

    Liked by 1 person

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