How soon is too soon? How much is too much? This relativity comes in when there is a forum for comparison. And there were such occasions, several of them in fact, when Asawari was thrown together with four other teenagers from different continents and varied cultures.
It may have come out a number of times during their time together, that Asawari had experienced pain, loss and tough emotions relatively earlier in life. There may have dawned upon her that she was already thrown into the deep end while the rest were still attending theory lessons on the ‘streamlined shape’. She may also have experienced the discomfiture of having to face the poignancy of her own wisdom, that only comes with personal struggles and drawn battles. Her sense of security may have appeared brittle. There may have been in her eyes, an awareness of having sprung from a country of conflicting and chequered progress.
Was she therefore, during her time in the Balkans, a child of too much and too soon?
It is true that children growing up in India lead existences that seamlessly mesh with life around them. There is no bubble wrap to protect them from the dust and heat of the humdrum around. They grow up as participants and witnesses to most of life’s grand moments including deaths, illnesses, family drama and celebrations. They put up with major and minor discomforts at times and are quite accustomed to their personal spaces being invaded to become humming beehives. They grow up in homes replete with stories of their ancestral thrift and hard work.
Perhaps they are not emotionally wired for an unadulterated cheer and boundless happiness. I would imagine they grow up viewing life as something to be lived rather than a fresh fruit trifle cake that belongs to them by entitlement because they are they; please to top the icing with a cherry please.
This was the lesson number two in Serbia and not necessarily for Asawari alone.