Let me tell you a story.
When Raza learnt (from his washerman) that Aisha, his wife, had been committing adultery, it seemed like the end of the world. Ammi (Mother) said that he needed to get rid of the unfaithful. Sell her off in exchange for gold coins – she commanded. Raza hesitated. Ammi kept nagging. Corvus Oculum Corvi Non Eruit! A 25 year old man should not have been married to a 40 year old woman. Now go, sell her off! Raza was traumatised. He loved Aisha; he still did; although now, he hated her too. Had she changed? Her body had changed, and so had her behaviour, or even her character for that matter. He could not understand. How did this love remain then–did he really love her or merely the idea of her? Aisha stayed silent and accepted what the family had to offer. Later that night, Raza took her to the slave market, and just when one of the Vikings was going to pay a decent price, something came to Raza’s mind and he stabbed her to death. All things decay. It had to happen. It is only a matter of time, before my sufferings begin. Karma Yoga!
Now, if you ask a child to read this story, he or she would only see a story. But, adults don’t think that way. With specific knowledge or information, they develop specific biases, and hence, they interpret much more than what a child would. In the above story, for instance, different people would observe, like or dislike different set of things.
A Muslim might notice the age of Raza (and Aisha), and relate with that of prophet, when he got married. Some might even get curious about (Shia or Sunni) names.
A Hindu might notice the Sanskrit phrase (Karma Yoga) from Bhagwad Gita. Or relate the scene with Ram and Sita, because of the washerman reference.
A Buddhist might find the final words of Buddha in the story.
A feminist could argue that the woman is being ill-treated.
A meninist could say that it was the man who actually suffered.
A lawyer could worry about the justice.
A philosopher might ponder over Raza’s questions and relate them with Ship of Theseus.
A linguist might notice the Latin and Sanskrit phrases.
A historian could wonder about the Vikings.
A literary critic might observe the inconsistencies in the language and the story.
Adult life is mostly built upon thoughts. Our knowledge often defines our biases, which in turn shapes our thoughts and narrows our experiences. But, isn’t life all about experiences? If we are only going to worry about certain aspects of life–which conform to our ideology and which do not–it would affect our experience as a whole and not in a good way. Since, a child does not do that, he or she is more likely to relish the experience.
A work of art is just like life. It captures the essence of life and offers us a range of experiences. Beholders take what they are capable of or what they intend to. Some spend hours and days, trying to analyse and criticise; some like; some dislike; some get offended; yet there are some who simply experience, which, as you would see, is a beautiful thing.