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May we introspect a little

Finally the new rape law has been passed and hopefully will be implemented. Stalking has been made a serious offence. There’s a very thin line separating, the act of following with good intent and stalking. It will definitely be very confusing to judge, especially by our inept and crude police personnel.
I am reminded of lovable films made by Basu Chatterji Rajni Gandha and in 1975 “Choti Si Baat”., Amol Palekar played the lead role where lacking enough courage, and unsure of his feelings being reciprocated, he pines for his lady love and follows her around. His lady played by Vidya Sinha relishes his attention and knows of his affection, but waits for his every move. My question is, would this be termed as stalking today?
Our ability to feel romantic love develops during adolescence. Teens all over the world notice passionate feelings of attraction generally for the opposite sex. Even in cultures where people are not allowed to act on or express these feelings, they're still there. It's a natural part of growing up to develop romantic feelings and sexual attractions for the other sex. These new feelings can be exciting — or even confusing at first. All kinds of mannerisms are exhibited. Some stand at kerbs or on the route of the object of his infatuation, while others try to talk on flimsy excuses. All these are just passing phases of the new found emotions of teenage. How do we judge which attraction will be harmful and lead to disaster?
Much though Mr.Sharad Yadav’s (M.P.) comment, ‘ peechha nahin karenge toh muhabbat kaise hogi’, has been condemned; I, belonging to the same generation can understand what he really meant. Those were the days, when adolescence set in a little later than today and youngsters were much less violent and aggressive. Actions and conduct to express one’s feeling of love were simple and forthright too. And there were no ill feelings if it remained unreciprocated. One seldom heard of acid attacks or episodes of settling scores.
I remember as a kid, my brother’s friend during his graduation, had a crush on one of his classmates. She was a real beauty. I know, because later, after her post graduation, she joined my school as my teacher. One day that friend just went up to her and said, “Indira tum humko bahut acchhi lagti ho”. That was all and that was it. A good laugh with his friends, his bravado proved, everything was at peace as before.
When I grew up and joined the Allahabad University, things were very simple. Some departments which had a good number of girl students (English Literature and Hindi Lit.) had a section especially for only girls. Classes were held in the lady’s wing, near the Sarojini Naidu Hostel. All departments didn’t have sufficient number of girl students to form a separate section, so we had to go to the main building of the University. It was a two to three minutes’ walk, through a gap made in the boundary wall of the hostel for girls. Girls made groups and had to cross a few departments to reach theirs. The boys knew that, and would stand rooted there. Not a word or comment, they were content with only a gaze and sometimes decided to escort us up to our respective departments. We felt quite safe. Those belonging to the same subject and class stood in front of the classroom and waited for the girls to enter. One side of the classroom benches were reserved for the girls. The professors were very punctual too and entered soon after the students had settled down, so there was no chance of any interaction. After the bell rang and the class was over, the professor would wait till the girls left and only then would he leave the classroom. In retrospect I wonder whether it was done by design.
This of course doesn’t mean there weren’t any linkups between the boys and girls. Excuses used by them were to borrow notes or some book. While returning the same, there would certainly be a message or a card. But the intentions were righteous, honest and ethical. There were many students from nearby hinterland like Balia, Ghazipur, Banda, Azamgarh and even Pratapgarh (Raja Bhaiya’s domain today). They were a little rustic no doubt, but never impolite, nor did they ever misbehave. Some came from economically backward classes and were first generation of literates. But never during our tenure did we encounter or hear of any untoward incident.
But today, I hear things have changed, just like it has in the rest of the country. It pains me as much as those of my time. It’s a pity to hear that my University which once gave the country its select bureaucrats, does not figure anywhere in the list of leading educational institutions, today.
Can we do something to change this apart from making laws? Foremost we need to introspect and see where we went wrong to inculcate the true values of life to the new generation. To do that the parents need to have time for themselves, as well as for their children. Today I find young parents rushing all the time to achieve deadlines in work place and home. There is hardly any time to spend with kids and so the children retreat to T.V. and computer. Though it brings stillness at home, it’s not beneficial for future. All that one can access through the internet may not be suitable for young minds and our culture. Supervision is necessary. But again where is the time?

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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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