Kiran Manral’s Raising Kids with Hope and Wonder in Times of a Pandemic and Climate Change speaks of the disquiet every mom has faced in the past few months.
It took me less than an hour to read this 32-page e-book. With due to apologies to the author, it almost felt that some of my thoughts were written down by a scribe. Perhaps that is what makes the book so relatable. Kiran Manral may have spoken out the feelings of disquiet that every mother has felt during these times of a pandemic and climate change.
Manral, an author and a columnist, reveals her avatar as a mother of a 16-year-old. She takes us through the four months of ‘lockdown’ that India and the world has had to encounter.
The feeling of being ‘angsty’ that both mother and son go through is easily identifiable. Teens these days are well read but they still go back to their mothers with questions, perhaps to get some re-assurance.
‘Will we all drown when the sea-level rises?’ asks the teen hoping that the mother can give an answer. But the conversation has suddenly shifted. The virus from Wuhan has displaced climate change and the questions are ‘Mamma, are we all going to die? Will there be a vaccine?’ From ‘Generation Hot’ they are now the ‘Pandemic Generation.’
Manral, takes us through the times of being homebound in a metropolitan city in India. For the youth, in particular, it has been very tough. In her words, ‘This is their reality, the stuff that dystopian climate fiction was made of until a few years ago.’
However, as most readers would have experienced in their personal lives, there has been a collective pause and a chance to look inwards. Nevertheless, the author is quick to point out that lack of physical activity has been a natural fallout during the pandemic. Which is a huge challenge for youngsters. The mother in her takes us through how she tried to keep her teen busy with chores and establishing physical activity in the day.
This book is an honest attempt to answer tough questions that children pose. The narrative takes you through everyday conversations between a mother and son. Clearly, parents need to keep themselves updated.
There are questions Manral asks herself too. ‘What kind of a world will my son inherit? What will still hold good of the world I knew and grew up, when he becomes an adult?” But most importantly, ‘How do I give my son hope and joy at a time when these seem to be diminished in our lives?’
The do’s and don’ts she conveys to her son are not starkly different from what most parents may tell their children. But the most important point, that Manral makes is that this is the opportune time to reclaim the Earth for them.
The pandemic has given both mother and son time to discover the magnificent beauty of our planet through documentaries and pictures. This is part of the ‘hope and wonder’ that can be instilled in the children during these trying times. And this virtual journey underlines for both, the real problems that man’s anthropocentric activities has created for this and the next generations to come.
‘Do what you can, I tell him. You are one person. But you can make that choice to be the change,’ she tells him to create hope. Furthermore, she tells the reader how as a family they have given up watching Indian television news, calling them ‘panic on steroids.’ ‘We need to be informed not anxious’ is a useful nugget. Indeed, these are times to preserve sanity and mental health.
While Manral borrows and peppers the narrative with facts and figures from current events, the book essentially reads like diary of the days in lockdown. So that it is chronicled for posterity.
However, the larger purpose comes through. That of raising an offspring who will be realistic, empathetic and will take care of the planet and others who dwell on it.
The book leaves you feeling that ‘Raising kids with hope and wonder during times of a Pandemic and Climate Change’ may be difficult. However, out of adversity there can be positive and transformative outcomes.
Do give it a read.
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Picture credits: Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels
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