Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is my generation insane?

A very sad thing happened this Monday morning; a classmate of mine passed away in a car accident along with her mother, her grandmother and her brother, while her father is admitted in the hospital, fighting for his life. She was not a close friend, but then we have been studying together for the last twelve years, so the incident horrified me. May their souls rest in peace forever.

Generally, I would not be writing about such a sad incident; this is not the kind of news that one bandies about. However, I read a comment in one of my father’s blogposts that hit me hard, and induced me to write about this. Another classmate, a boy, has commented on the post saying that some of his friends were joking and laughing over the accident, as if it were a funny and trivial issue!

The boy wrote in his comment that these boys either have no feelings at all or are confused about what they feel. I will go one step further and say that these boys are bestial. This though would be an insult to animals, since most animals try their best to save a brother in trouble, and often express grief at the death of a member of the  tribe. Jim Corbett has rightly said in one of his stories that if the laws of the jungle were prevalent among human beings, we would be living in a much more civilized and humane society. The boy also wrote about his Biology teacher who jokes about how accidents can help control the population explosion in our country, and says that one or two dying now and then is not a big deal. This really frightens me. In the primary classes we were taught to think of our teachers just like our parents. If I had parents who had such perverse and psychopathic thoughts, I would surely have lived in constant fear for my life. These people are parents too, and I always feel sorry for their children. These are the parents who convince their children that the only reason to be alive is to get marks and get admission in the IITs. And these are the parents whose children can laugh when they hear about a classmate’s death.

I am a member of the generation in question, but since my parents have gone against the herd and consciously brought me up with a different set of values, I often get nasty shocks at my classmates’ behaviour. A very common and seemingly unimportant thing that everyone has witnessed sometime or the other is how youngsters occupy the seats in public buses while the aged remain standing. I remember once a classmate and I were returning from a tuition, and we had both been lucky to get seats in a packed bus. Moments after we had sat down, an elderly couple entered the bus. The man had a bent back, while the woman was limping and was obviously in pain. I immediately vacated my seat, and looked at my classmate, expecting her to do the same. But she kept staring pointedly out of the window and did not budge before I actually told her to do so, and then only because she was afraid I would otherwise haul her off the seat, which I am physically quite capable of doing. She got up unwillingly, gave me a glare and turned away, muttering curses under her breath! Since I have spent such a long time studying in a girls’ school (and those are actually much nastier than a co-ed or a boys’ school; I do wish some more girls/women would have the guts to acknowledge that publicly) I can think of dozens of other such instances which show how frightening the minds of many of these people are. In fact, I would not like to stay alone in a house with a great majority of them for my own safety. There’s no saying what one of them could do to take ‘revenge’ for some imagined hurt or just for the fun of seeing someone else hurt.

So where exactly has society gone wrong to have brought up a generation of teenagers with such warped and retarded senses? We have Art of Living classes galore, and Value Education is compulsory in most schools. In spite of that, we have teenagers who have little or no moral sense and responsibility. In fact, given enough power, I am sure we have a number of potential Hitlers and Stalins amongst us! I know for one that many of them, the girls especially, will grow up to be the worst kind of parents whose only contribution to their children’s lives would be making them miserable.

I often discuss this issue with my father, and we wonder about where the real problem lies. One thing that both of us agree on is that these teenagers have been simultaneously spoiled rotten to the extreme and been subjected to endless irrational restrictions right from childhood. I have had a very different childhood, where my parents have treated me like an equal, and so I have been given the same freedom as well as the same duties and responsibilities that they have. Today, I am obviously very unlike most of my classmates in my likes and dislikes, tastes and preferences, hobbies, and my entire lifestyle is a puzzle to them. Many of my classmates have this idea that I have to live under military discipline and my parents run a concentration camp at home! Otherwise they simply cannot fathom how a teenager could NOT enjoy partying, shopping, gossiping and willingly do things like reading, housekeeping or studying! With the kind of mentality that most of these teenagers have, and the kind of marks- and looks-obsessed, unscrupulous environment that they have grown up in, it is little wonder that terrifying accidents get such disgusting reactions from them. I can now understand how the Romans could enjoy watching ‘games’ like chariot racing and gladiator fighting. People like to say “Nowadays the world is becoming so bad and ugly”, but in reality the world has always been like this, and people have always been saying the same thing, be it four hundred years ago, or a thousand. That’s my only consolation: only a tiny handful try to be different, always, everywhere.

However, there is no denying that good people are still around. While some boys felt like joking about the incident, another girl has organized a prayer-and-donation meet in an orphanage in the memory of the deceased this Friday afternoon. The girl is my classmate, and is someone whom I always took to be a typical senseless teenager. I must say I am pleasantly surprised. All I wish is that we had more people like her around. That would have made the world a much happier and more peaceful place. 


Debarshi Saha said...

Dear Urbi,

The incident you have mentioned is indeed a very sad one-and the reactions observed even more tragic.In accordance with the spirit of "Debjaan",all I can wish is-maybe these souls have moved onto better,brighter and more beautiful worlds far away,nestled amidst God's unending grace.They have left behind pain in their wake,while on their quest to happiness.

If you call your generation "insane",Urbi,then mine can be called "super-insane"!Moral sensitivity,aesthetic values have all declined in our world,where materialism is worshipped at the altar of sensuality and accompanies crudeness in taste-as a result,everything's a cruel joke!In this age,youngsters like you are indeed like a breath of fresh air,wafting in,always to be welcomed with open arms.You have my admiration for your actions while commuting by bus,and indeed,only Sir could have such a daughter!

Finally,I would like to remind all of the people finding this incident funny-"Nothing is a cliche when it happens to you."Let not the smile be wiped off your faces then.

Very fine post.However,I do wish that you would respond to readers' comments a bit more often,Urbi-just a request!

With best wishes,

Urbi Chatterjee said...

Dear Debarshida,

Yes, I know I should be responding to comments more often, especially since comments make me very happy when they come along. You are right, I'll have to be more cautious about it. Thanks for pointing this out.

As for your reminder to all those who found the incident funny, chances of their reading my blog is very slim, and even if they do read it, they will not be retaining anything, leave alone learning a lesson and trying to mend their ways.

I thank you for your appreciative words, but I will not claim to be the only one to have civic senses in my batch. There are some others too who would have done exactly the same thing in the bus if they saw an aged couple, but yes, it is true that their number is pitifully small.
Urbi (Pupu)

Tanmoy said...

Dear Pupu

I read this post a while back but somehow I could not comment. May the souls of the deceased rest in peace.

As you have noted in your post, I also believe that good people are still around. However, I do feel that increasingly age-old virtues such as moral, ethics, sensitivity are becoming attributes of the weak. I believe that is the biggest irony because only the strong can have those virtues in a world full of despicable human beings. However, in my work place or society, I don’t have too many who would endorse my view.

Every morning’s paper that narrate incidents in India, Afghanistan, Syria, China and many other countries will bear the testimony to the growing insensitivity that a fellow human being has on another. It is as if, the whole world is conspiring to make us greedier, cynical and insensitive.

I believe in older days too, the majority of the population was not that virtuous, but because of undeveloped modes of communication, we hardly knew about them.

In today’s times we are invaded much more – either in person or through the developed media.

The challenge is how to remain optimistic and true to your honest practices, even in these circumstances. Knowing you through your musings, I am confident that you are strong enough to remain the way you are even under dire circumstances. As you leave your school, university and enter work life you would tend to meet more disgusting people. Sometimes, I shudder to think – the way it is going now, what will the world become in 10 years time. However, we have to face it any way isn’t it?

Hence, I try desperately to motivate myself. Trust me, I don’t find it easy without too many friends out here. So I complain, self-introspect and again take courage and move ahead.

In doing so, I do certain things which help me. For example: I do watch a few videos on CNN sometimes. You may give it a shot at

I feel happy and celebrate silently when evil men like Charles Taylor gets sentenced or when I read about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman or such people.

I am sure you do all the above and may be much more. With people like you are some of your cherished friends we make a better world even amidst significant challenges. Just that the “better” ones need to remain connected and remain strong.


Shilpi said...

Dear Pupu,

I have to apologise. I read this post right after you put it up obviously (I can't believe more than a month has gone by), and then put off commenting for a day, and then felt the vague chains in my tum and in my head about this post of yours. I'm proud that you wrote it for it is a disturbing post, and the most disturbing one that I've read on your blog. I was hoping the father pass away eventually and without waking out from the nightmare, and I can only say a rest in peace for the deceased…

I'm not so sure even now what I can add to your post. But somehow I keep having the feeling that something has gone badly wrong within the last decade especially. It probably was getting worse steadily, and yet things around seem to have crumbled in terms of basic values...or maybe human beings apart from the alarmingly few (as you point out on this post) were/are never really good and strong and independent to begin with. I can't and certainly won't blame technology for making children cruel and warped but certainly more and more I wonder about something your dad said some months ago - about the cumulative consequences across decades and the absolute need to have good teachers who can sensitize children and from a very, very early age into being less cruel and less bestial. I have very little hope regarding the parents….The kids that were in school with me are probably the mothers now…and teachers too, and it gives me the creeps.

I can’t help but furiously think as to what made those boys giggle. What could have been funny about such a ghastly accident. I don't even know whether they would have felt even a pang if their own so-called loved ones had been killed in an I write these lines there's a terrible greyness and darkness that I sometimes feel. Not to sound morbid but I sometimes do wonder where we human beings are likely to take this planet. But as I keep thinking too - maybe the few people who fight against the odds and try to make a positive difference are going to be around still, and so hope lingers.

See, your post itself is what matters. In a world where so few are willing to think about the bad and ugly sides of our world, an essay like yours (no matter how many or few people, and all around the world read it) gets people to think about what is disgusting and morally warped, and that which needs to be critiqued (no matter what) and the good needs to be preserved - and even within ourselves. I'm not surprised that very few have commented on this post of yours. It's bound to make folks uncomfortable because you've pointed out to the fact that seemingly normal and very regular children can be cruel and brutal - and it's not pleasant nor nice stuff to think about...

As for that other seamless connection you make regarding the incident on the bus - that I could see unfurling before my eyes. And so-called educated females are worse in this regard – whether that be about vacating seats or carrying stuff that needs to be. In fact that post you’d written on females in the first year you started your blog reminded me even more sharply of the one time in my life when I had pranced off leaving somebody else to carry heavy luggage. I very much doubt that a male in my situation would have done the same…

I’m glad you’re you and have your parents, and as I said earlier – I hope you find some/a few like-minded friends. This is what I keep praying about….

Take care, and do write a blogpost this month. In fact you need to write two!

- Shilpidi

Urbi Chatterjee said...

Dear Shilpidi,

It's true that this post is rather morbid and dark; in fact, the more you read it, the more you are pushed into the darkness and gloom. Sometimes, with events like this one about the giggling boys taking place all around, one can't help feeling like one were perpetually living in a Hollywood horror movie world. What gives me the chills is that I will (obviously) have to choose my boyfriend/husband from among the boys of this very generation!

All that I can do is echo Tanmoyda and say that the few people who are different can make significant changes if they are strong enough, and they should stick together as much as possible.