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Then and Now

(Continued)

Our transition from school to college and then to the university was absolutely seamless. It now seems to have been a natural corollary after clearing the higher secondary. We never had to waste any time or thought on whether this or that subject was available or not? They could be availed of off the shelf, literally. There was no need for counselling. We ourselves were clear in our minds. But today no student can choose or get the subjects of his/her choice without jam sessions with counsellors. It’s such a pity to see young students, so confused and hassled, today inspite of their score of above 90 percent. Whereas if we got a first division, which was a rarity then, it was celebration time. Many a year, the topper of the University wouldn’t even be a first divisioner!!
Even social life in colleges those days was so straightforward. The friendship between boys and girls was healthy and dignified. It was not that there was no love blossoming in the campus then, but it used to be subdued and mostly honourable. There must have been unrequited love too, but whoever ever heard of killing one’s own class fellow for not reciprocating?
Friendships were for good. The status of the father was generally not known and was never material in getting cosy with a classmate. Jealousy and backbiting were rare as there was not much to lose except friendship. Though jobs were not a surety, yet there was no “crab-mentality”. We wrote long letters to friends during vacations and eagerly waited for their response. Very few today, in the mobile and sms era, can even feel that euphoria when the postman arrived with letters. Letter writing is dead and extinct, that, of course, is another matter.
Music was “food for love”, and it indeed was melodious, soft, romantic and lyrical. Generally the lyrics were poetic providing quotes for day to day conversations to buttress one’s points or express one’s feelings. We understood the difference between music and noise, which I wonder whether the young generation today is capable of. I wouldn’t blame the western influence for this, because we also were great fans of the music of Jim Reeves, Cliff Richards, Nat King Cole and Doris Day including the rock music of Bill Hailey and Elvis Presley. But we knew the time and place and above all the volume to set for listening to them. I remember listening to ‘Binaca Geet Mala’ of Radio Ceylon every Wednesday and AIR’s ‘A Date with You’ every Friday night in the lowest possible volume because our elders were not so fond of that kind of music. Can we expect this kind of consideration from today’s kids? No. Not because they don’t want to but because they were never told to, and here comes the lapse in guidance by the young parents. In their effort to provide everything that they missed out on, they leave out the most important lessons in life, concern for others.
I see a lot of apprehensions in the mind of the young today. It has a lot to do with the kind of life they get used to. When it is economic upturn they get into a high and when it’s the opposite they are worried about future, about losing jobs. This kind of situation tells on their marital harmony too which again leads to health problems. We had not heard of high blood pressure and other related ailments till late in life, but now the young are facing it. It’s a difficult situation all round and even more difficult to cope with at such an early age for want of experience. I wonder what the future has in store for them as it seems to be pretty intimidating. I only hope they are able to keep a steady head on their shoulders and not get swayed by occasional setbacks. One needs to develop the sportsman spirit where victory and defeat are just two sides of a coin. A good example would be Sachin Tendulkar and M.S.Dhoni who are very balanced in their attitude to life.
By the standards of the current generation we may have been un-smart and not quite worldly-wise but we lived a life of great tranquillity, unperturbed by numerous apprehensions they have of future today. We were spared the acquisitive tendencies and the current consumer culture was yet to set in. We were generally happy with whatever we had. Believing that good turns will come on their own in their good time, we avoided the stresses of the rat race. We still live a life of contentment and value honesty, moral integrity and concern for others as noble qualities. Having led a modest life, we are at peace with the world and, certainly, with ourselves.
Life is too beautiful;
Don’t make it into a race;
Stop and admire the colours before they fade;
Listen to the music before it’s too late;
Don’t miss out the thrill of the journey;
To reach the peak in haste.


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Vandana Bagchi

Home Maker/Housewife

Madhya Pradesh ,  INDIA

Born and brought up in Allahabad. Educated in Allahabad and Delhi. Taught in various reputed schools in Delhi, Mumbai and Shillong. Now enjoying retired life in Bhopal

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