When I was your age, phones were clunky, televisions bulky and computers hulky. Yet they occupied very little space in our heads. Our house was cluttered with knick-knacks and memories. Appliances were uncomplicated, so were our lives. Sleep was not a challenge but something we enjoyed. Happiness was free and did not come with “terms-and-conditions apply”.
News was in no hurry to break and would patiently wait until next morning. Tele soaps were meant to be watched by the entire family. When we talked, we looked into each other’s eyes rather than look up occasionally from our mobiles. Words had yet to shed their vowels and their warmth. Sentences were not hurried missives. We talked because we needed to and not because we wanted another toy.
Time was elastic not brittle. Despite entertainment that was clumsy and prehistoric, I-am-so-bored had yet to make an appearance in our lexicon. Relatives had yet to be anointed with the annoying tag, family weddings were not meant to be endured but enjoyed. Private space was not guarded like a bastion and certainly not shared with online strangers.
Gay meant happy. Hit and run was still a game we played and enjoyed. We imbued our idols with a halo and did not put them under a microscope to analyse and jeer at their flaws. Scepticism was a prerogative of the old and the wrinkled. Youth had ideals. Lampooning our leaders was the sole preserve of the likes of RK Laxman, rather than a national sport. We used to race against the wind not time. We felt free not constricted and were content with our routine-ridden existence.
We couldn’t wait to grow up and become our Mom and Dad. We were impatient to take charge of our lives.
We did. Or so we thought.
Imperceptibly, the world around has changed, greatly, and has made our existence stressful. Have we not put our past inside a treasure chest of memories? Isn’t nostalgia our favourite pastime? Have we not let cynicism wrinkle our souls? Do we not outrage over the present and dread the years ahead? Have we not invited paranoia and addictions into our lives?
Are we in charge of our lives? Or is it a case of a life meticulously planned, goals dauntingly set, where even a small speed-breaker will send us hurtling in despair.
As I look at you my child, your frame bent over your laptop, laughing at jokes you seldom share, I realize I’m frowning, just like my Mom. Wondering how you cope with the harsh world outside, just like Mom. As I let anxiety flood my heart over a future I have no control of, I realize I have become my Mom.
Just like any other parent who can’t stop regaling her child with stories of her past, colouring it with nostalgia, shorn of all unpleasantness. It’s because we want you to believe that a life that had yet to shed its innocence, where ideals were not just spoken about, when happiness was tangible rather than an elusive pursuit, did exist once upon a time.
When you are my age, will you, like me, look back at this present through rose tinted glasses? Will the breathless pace of today become leisurely when you recall tomorrow? Will your disgust of today, shed its negativity as it ages? Will you look at your child and sigh – when I was your age, life was innocent and kind!