My brother and his family are visiting India right now, and I am a little nostalgic because I am not with them. It is the peak of summer in India, which means time for mangoes and ‘nongu’, or ice apples. When my family was eating them in the village this time, one of our family friends mentioned how much I used to love them as a kid. I used to stuff myself with them—I can still remember telling myself just one more and having lots more. 

Image of ice apple – with the eyes and fruits

Ice apple is a very unique fruit. It has what can be called one to three eyes, which have soft jelly inside them—a bit like lychee. There are two ways to eat it. The first is to puncture it so you can drink all the juice and then scoop up the flesh with your thumb. The second is to take the entire flesh part out and then eat it on a plate. My mom and I would/still use the first way – it tastes better. My brother sent a pic of them having nongu, bringing back all the memories. 

A few trips back, I realized I would always be a little child for my family. They still refer to me as a ‘Baby’ when they address me, even now. My uncles or aunties still pinch my cheeks more out of sheer habit—I’m not sure if they know they do it. I can see why they do that. It is difficult for me to see my brother as a father of two girls – I still cannot get over the fact that he goes to work, takes care of his family – and came to visit me last year with all the required planning.

The cry we hear deep in our hearts comes from the wounded child within. Healing this inner child’s pain is the key to transforming anger, sadness and fear. – Thich Nhat Hanh

When I think of these memories, my heart gives a subtle lurch – because somewhere in me is an inner child that still lives those memories, and for a minute, I am that child basking in all the pampering, tantrum-throwing, carefree life. Do we ever let go of that inner child? Have you found yourself in a situation as an adult where you are throwing a grownup tantrum? Sometimes, you know very well what you are doing childish, but you cannot stop yourself – making a sarcastic remark or getting back at somebody. 

We all need that inner child because it tells us we must care for ourselves. As a child, we cannot manage our inner and outer circumstances, so we act out. And when we ‘act out’ as an adult, it means we are hurt and want to hurt others. Instead of beating ourselves up by saying ‘Grow up,’ we should be grateful for the warning that we need to pause, examine ourselves and give us grace. Self-compassion and kindness are challenging because they are muscles we rarely use or are even taught to use. Compared to the muscle with which we critique ourselves, the muscle with which we praise ourselves is almost non-existent. We can spend aeons discussing why that is, but the wise thing to do is to accept that you are not being nice to yourself and surrender.

Are you ready to make peace with yourself?

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