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Flavy Reawakened My Inner Child

“Is Flavy the Flatbed truck a girl or a boy?” I asked my husband.

“A girl, definitely. At least, she sounds like a girl.”

I was unsure, because most characters on Car City make mumbling sounds. Googling the name didn’t help much either, so I began watching the YouTube show regularly with my son. Flavy continues to be a mystery, but I’ve been happy to discover enough reasonably prominent female characters, who talk mostly about their tasks, repairs and auto parts. It’s good enough to pass the Bechdel test.

More surprisingly, it’s good enough for me to be completely entertained.

I am now as invested as my son in the happenings in Car City. I am charmed by characters and finally understand the difference between an excavator and a bulldozer. I also know now that the tall crane-like vehicle that repairs street lights is a cherry picker truck. I don’t know what I will do with what I have learned, but even this is unique. Learning something new to no end at all – not for an exam, not for work, not to teach or present, but just for the heck of it. I won’t go so far as to say anything as cliché as I’m rediscovering my inner child. But somewhere along the way of reading bedtime stories and watching videos, I am alive again to the pleasures a fantasy world.

This is perhaps why I found myself sinking into the romance and humming the songs of a musical that I recently watched. That I felt like seeing it and that I made it to the theatre with a ticket booked in advance was miracle in itself. Even more astounding? That the sun broke through the dark clouds of my hardened cynicism.

I actually sang along.

I’ve been finding humour in the old, forgotten nursery rhymes. I’ve also noticed many more sparrows, mynas, peacocks and squirrels, lately. I am enchanted by the magic of my son’s childhood; it’s a magic that feels like … possibility.

But, it’s a possibility dogged by reality at every step. I see the profusion of water tankers and know it is because of the shortage of water and sinking water tables. I see the ocean of cranes in the suburbs of Delhi and think about the fine cement dust clogging up the air and coating the green leaves and bright orange flowers.

And while my son’s enthusiasm for the elephant in Aladdin’s “Prince Ali” song has also made it strangely adorable and lovable to me, too, the animal is a member of a species whose habitat is threatened in the real world.

Seeing the flaws of our imperfect world isn’t new for me; I’ve written before about being a cynic. What is new is a reluctance to accept them as such. More and more the flaws feel like disappointments in what could be a better world. I now think about what I can do to make the world a better place. I feel the stirrings of parental activism, a need to be involved.

I recognize this feeling in my friends who march down the streets to voice their concerns about their air, their spaces, who charge into schools demanding quality and change, who change their own habits in order to live a better life. There is so much innocence, joy, and love in the toys and media created to help children learn about the world that you suddenly, desperately want the world to actually be like that. You start wondering, “Why not?” You start thinking about how to change the world.

Is this … is this what hope feels like?

I wouldn’t know. I still vacillate between idealism and cynicism, but maybe it’s the middle ground between them that leads to better things. All I know is that I am no longer content to accept the flaws in the world.

Also, I can’t stop humming the tune from the musical.

City of stars, are you shinning just for meeee?

Maybe, one day, it actually will.

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