Ramblings on a Beach by Kabir Bedi
In Ramblings on a Beach by Kabir Bedi we have the theme of happiness, freedom, shame, humiliation, conformity, kindness and hope. Narrated in the first person by Bedi himself it becomes clear to the reader from the beginning of the story that Bedi might be exploring the theme of happiness. As he is walking along the beach Bedi sees a group of children preparing for a race. They are enthusiastic but there is a down side to what is happening. A young girl who came second in her race feels ashamed and humiliated. Feelings that Bedi wishes the girl did not have. For there is no need for her to feel ashamed or humiliated. This may be significant as Bedi may be suggesting that at first the girl may have found freedom on the beach but when confined to the structures of society (the race) the girl only believes herself to be a failure.
Bedi continues to explore the theme of shame and humiliation when he introduces his children to the story. Pooja he has hopes for. He knows that she is strong willed but still she is affected by the dampness of her peers’ thoughts. Siddharth on the other hand is different. He is vulnerable to outside influence and may have a desire to just fit in. Even though he is only two he may be developing these traits early in his life. No matter what he tries to do to block the negativity of his thoughts Bedi knows that his children will be like other children and they might be forced to conform in order to be accepted by others in their groups. Something that grieves Bedi immensely.
There may also be some symbolism in the story that might be important. The race as mentioned is a symbol of the structures we build in life with the race being part of the confines that people limit themselves to. The race suggests that there can only be one winner, and there is. However Bedi believes in being kind hence his effort to give the girl who lost the race an orange. The orange presents a prize for the loser of the race. A simple gesture from Bedi but one that is not appreciated by the girl. The sea going back and forth may be important too. The sea could symbolise the tide of life going back and forward continually. Just as the tide goes in and out so too do people come in and out of our lives. Some will succeed, like the girl who won the race, and others will be left by the wayside. Deemed to be failures in a cruel society.
The end of the story is interesting as Bedi appears to be ending the story with some hope for the future. He knows not every child will conform and hopes that they have an inner strength to succeed. To go against the grain and be the person they know they can be. As Bedi says ‘as long as that spirit struggles to be free, there is hope.’ Hope that not everyone will conform and that some people will remain independent of others for the rest of their lives. Not concerned about what the masses do but rather what they do as individuals. Achieving happiness without the pressures of society looking upon them.