‘Ramu, what are these ways that you are taking to? Tufts of hair dangling down your neck; why can’t you have a hair cut to look decent and this multicoloured shirt and these tight jeans — they look so obnoxious you’re the son of Panditraj Deovrat; what will people say?’ — Panditraj Deovrat seen to be admonishing his teen-aged son.’ Oh, Pitaji, these are my personal tastes and my personal matters — I should at least have this much freedom. These are my personal matters. Now I am grown up. My friends dress up the same way and no one seems to complain about that’— Panditraj Deovrat looked shocked; he was never prepared for such a retort. His was a family of Pandits and astrologers — that had been their anscentral profession coming down from generations. The house had a ‘Puja Grah’— a pujaroom where Panditraj Deovrat performed a two hour long ‘puja’ and ‘path’.
He was a staunch devotee of Ma Durga. His wife, also a very devout lady ever joining her husband in all the rituals. Ramu was their only son, the daughters two of them had already been married away.
Panditraj Deovrat felt blasted with the reply that Ramu gave him the only son had been a pampered one though, but the father never did expect such a retort. He stood dumb and flabbergasted. The child is crying hoarse, had been crying now for pretty long while Sunita, the mother of the new born was dressing up sitting before her dressing table, now for long enough unmindful of the crying child. She was to go out for the cinema show with two of her neighbour friends — two ladies. Mother-in-law could not tolerate or withstand the crying of the child and comes in to tell Sunita, to look after the child and give it a feed if it was hungry. ‘What sort of a mother you are? How can you allow the child to keep crying for so long? What’s more important — caring for the child or dressing up?’ How could Sunita tolerate such an upbraiding — that was not her cup of tea? And she at once bluntly told the mother-in-law, ‘See, I must keep my appointment with my friends.
This is the last show of the picture. I’ve to see it. The feeding bottle is there and there is the milk powder. Prepare it and feed the child — perhaps it’s feeding time that’s why it is crying’ — so saying she rearranges her hair before the mirror, flaunts up the corner of her ‘saree’ and walks out. The mother-in-law looks bewildered.
These are some of the very many examples in the daily life which clearly demonstrate the gap between the generations. Who is to be blamed who not? That is a root question. Two elderly men go out for a morning stroll and pass by the University road. The one has been saying to the other.
This is our University which gave us the educational status to earn a status in life. Retired though we are, still this building has very fond memories for us. How much regard we had for our teachers and what concern and care did our teachers show towards even our personal problems. I can never forget how Professor Sinha gave a hundred rupee note which amount could enable me to pay my examination fees as the last date had arrived.
I felt so overwhelmed with his gesture. I told him how I have not received the money order sent by my father a few days ago and I shall return the amount to him as soon as I got it. He patted me lovingly and told me to forget about the amount — ‘do well at your examination, retain your position and if you do that I shall feel my money returned, Go, be happy may God bless you’. Tears rolled down my eyes and I just bent down to touch Professor Sinha’s feet. A bunch of young boys walked just some distance behind and two of them where chain-smoking.
One of them — looked like the leader of the group and he was saying with a sense of bravado — that professor that one what does he think of himself? He needs to be taught a lesson one day. Disciplinarian — he calls himself a disciplinarian, does not want to permit students smoking in the corridor’. The other one from the same group joins in the former one’s views these teachers they must know that they earn their living out of the fees that we pay. They are our paid servants how they dare impose restrictions of this sort on us. We’re free birds.’ The day is not far when we may be led to set fire to this building — they call it the temple of learning what temple yaar? I failed last year and my father was all rage and I had to tell him that I could only study, if I couldn’t succeed what of that? I shall spend one more year at the University. Father had to remain dumbfounded.
So these are the gaps in the thinking of the two generations. Such is the concept of ‘personal freedom’ and that no argument can stand against it. Such is the lack of that regard for the elder generation which no teaching, any lessons can instill in the minds of the young.
The’ temples of learning’ for them are professional shops where they pay and get the teaching in return. The elders venerate their Alma mater while the younger ones treat them as temporary wayside abodes where they stay as long as they wish to — none can even ask them to vacate, even though they might have passed half their life over there — such overstaying, and turned into student-leaders — the ‘Dadas’ who win favour from different political parties and with their patronage contest elections to the Union and then entitle themselves for a ticket for the assembly or even the parliament. What good can one expect from such professional students for whom ‘studies’ have been the last concern? The gaps are widening but for that the fault does not lie only with the younger generation. The elder ones are also equally to be blamed. If the teacher of today does not enjoy that regard and that veneration it is because, they can share with their students the same table at a restaurant for smokes and drinks. The parents have no time for their children — they are busy bodies — both the father and the mother — the father with his overloaded office work or business concern; the mother either working or busy with her ‘Kitty parties’. The children as they grow up finding no company of home seek company away from home. The village boy comes to the town for studies — away from his parents and other elders who keep feeling privileged to have sent their son or daughter for further studies to the town — while the youth is blazed with the glamour of the town life and falls a prey to many ills — as that seems to be the way to look ‘the right buddy’ in the buzzing atmosphere.
There are teachers at the highest level who never teach — how can they instill the sense of dutifulness and responsibility among those placed in their care as students. The old pillars of faith are falling Parts, the foundations are crumbling and falling, traditions are treated as obsolete and out-of-date — dedication to duty is absent at all levels. It is the blind leading the blind.
Who then would point out the pitfalls, the potholes which are all over on the road? Let the two generations join their brains to think over the new strategy for redemption and salvation. The thinking of one would be treated as ‘imposition’ while the thinking of the other ‘disregard’. The two have to do the thinking together if the new millennium has to usher a really New World, otherwise the rot would go to incurable limits.