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Villainy of Innocence
|by BS Murthy|
“Wonder how social mores affect the course of life,” he had resumed his discourse at length; “Won’t the American way of life that lets the teens to be on their own, serve as an example?
While the economy is structured for their economic independence, the society is not shaped to cope up with their youthful distractions that hamper their academic progress. That’s why the U.S has been perennially short of professionals and so looks eastwards to make up for the shortfall; but what if Parkinson’s theory about the alternate ascendancy of the East and the West comes true? What charms the sheen-less new world could hold then to the youth of the old world for their immigration?
Maybe then as a Confucius and an Aryabhata gave way to a Socrates and a Plato in times of yore, the Newtons and the Edisons of our times might give way to some Mengs and Mathurs in the eras to come. But for that to happen, maybe it’s an idea that we have a five year teenage study break for the adolescents to grapple with their youth before they could pursue their studies without distraction, and I can tell you, then the toppers would not be the bookworms. But on the flip side, the U.S practice frees parents from the burden of their children’s upbringing allowing them in time to wine and dine; but the Asian penchant for supporting their progeny to the hilt puts paid to the recreational activities of the parents. A via media like requiring the children to work part-time to part-finance their higher studies may be an ideal model for the world at large but man either remains slavish to his habitual ways or disowns them altogether; seldom has he updated them in tune with the changing times.”
“Why didn’t the hippies of the last sixties give a jolt the cultures of the time?”
“Cultures my foot,” he scowled. “At their core all cultures are cultureless and our age-old one bears witness to it. If someone were to breathe his last at home, it’s deemed inauspicious to live in there, at least for a year; and what was the norm to avert such a thing from ever happening? The dying was laid by the roadside for him to seek his salvation unmindful of the humiliation, and if the sick were to show signs of recovery, they were taken in only to be dragged out at the slightest hint of a relapse. What can be worse for any to be abandoned by the very family by which he or she might have sworn all life; but the dying were unmindful of the ill-treatment for they were conditioned by the culture into believing it was better that way for their loved ones. Well, it’s the altered lifestyle that forced us to abandon that abominable practice but still wasn’t Goebbels justified in saying that he would reach for the gun whenever he heard the word culture.”
“It’s a case of switching over from one defective gear to another,” he said. “Why life is bound to be imperfect in any conceivable social arrangement but the peril lies in abandoning what is natural to the upbringing. It’s sad to see urban parents putting the fear of a cat or a mouse into their kids’ impressionable heads in our land named after Bharat, who as toddler, touted to have tamed lions in their dens. But in our days there was no escaping from scorpions, so children were taught how to handle them; and caught by us unawares, even as they tried to escape, we used to shout kodi, kodi and wonder why they staid put at that. Well, the rest was child’s play with a chappal found nearby; but then, whoever escaped a scorpion sting or two in any village, one fell straight on my thigh from the high ceiling when I was fast asleep, and what a hell it was with my fingers swollen like cucumbers. But how many of them I had battered to death later I lost count, and there is no way I can comprehend if it was out of vengeance. Whatever, it’s also a common knowledge to the village kids that leeches were better dealt with by salt water; how we used to play with their lives with fistfuls of salt smuggled out of the kitchens; wonder why we didn’t suffer any qualms seeing them disintegrate to death. Maybe because we were hateful of them, or was it a case of villainy of innocence, I would never know, but my playful hurting of a green hopper was on a different footing altogether; while it was seized by pangs of death, I put some sugar on it like our elders did when we hurt ourselves. But then I was too tender to know about life and death and all that I was capable of experiencing were the emotions of pleasures and pains.”
“That may remain in the realms of mystery but how are we to explain man’s propensity to self-destruct,” he said. “Really it’s not the hurt that others cause to us that counts, but our response to it that matters; if a positive outlook helps us gloss over the mishaps of life, the negative feelings harm our psyche to hurt our lives. We have had a botany lecturer for a neighbor, who nurtured a grand garden in his backyard, and as Chandu and I helped him tend his crotons, coleuses and others, he encouraged us to nurse our own little gardens. What a joy it was to have a garden of my own; so to say, every morning, still in half-sleep, I used to rush to the stretch of green in the side yard. Oh, how the sight of the blooming buds and the sprouting leaves used to thrill me; why, of all the joys of life, espying the garden that you nurse has no parallel to it. Maybe the nearest I can think of is the fun of flicking fruits and eating them sitting on the tree branches.”
To be Continued
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