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DISORIENTED-----A SHORT STORY ON TRANSFORMING SOCIETY!
"Hullo, suresh, how are you, son?" I said to the youngman sitting in the drawing room.
"Sorry Uncle, I am not Suresh, I am Aman----Aman Randhawa", the youngman replied.
"Oh, so you must be Suresh's friend---I 'm sorry I thought you were Suresh because I am visiting this house after so many years" I clarified.
"You are again wrong, uncle, He is not suresh 's friend but my 'boy friend", so said Anita, emerging from the kitchen with two cups of coffee.
"What? what ? What?" I was flabbergasted and speechless.
"why are you so stunned, uncle? Is there something wrong?" Anita was now quizzing me.
"No, No, nothing wrong dear. I was just wondering if I were in my village or some metro or something?" I said with a lot of hesitation and guarded caution.
" Forget, it Rajwinder, you left the village in 1964. The clock time stands there still for you. Well! the times have changed. ", This was my childhood friend Principal Kanwal Sood, who made his appearance from another room. He had heard my conversation with Aman and Anita.
"Oh, how are you , Kanwal? Yaar, I was here in Kathgarh for a few days, I thought of meeting you. I was told you have retired and settled down in the village." I said to my friend, Kanwal.
"Anita is my daughter. She is doing B.Tech in electronics at Rayat College of Engineering , Ropar. Aman is her classmate and friend. My son Suresh, whom you saw as a two years old child back in 1980, when I was just a science teacher, is now in Texas, USA---a software engineer with HCL. He has a five years old son. " Kanwal gave the introductory talk.
"Kanwal, don't take me wrong, but I am a bit rattled---not that I don't like it but I was stunned to see such a culture having had reached the villages , too. You could say I did not expect such open display of friendship between a girl and a boy, right in front of the girl's parents. you see I am totally disoriented" i managed to explain my mental condition.
"Yes, uncle, You said it. You are disoriented because you think village boys and girls are 'mere 'dumbos', as they might have been in your times in the late sixties, Right, Dad" Anita said in a flustered tone. I didn't know whether she was irritated or explaining the difference in 'my times' or 'her times'.
"I am sorry, Anita. But I am a bit culturally shocked to see such a scene in a village. Perhaps in a city I won't have paid attention to such a phenomenon" I explained.
"That's right, uncle. Time for you stands still in 1964. You will see things with those eyes only. How sad , you have not changed even after 46 years of traveling around India" It was Aman who was now giving me lecture.
" You are getting me wrong. I have not said that I did not like it or so. I was just wondering as to how fast things have changed culturally. You remember Kanwal-------" I now began to delve into my times.
"Yes, yes, I remember those days. Are you talking of Onkar and Darshna's case?" Kanwal sood had said.
"Yea, I remember, Onkar and Darshna loved each other. One day Onkar was seen talking to Darshna by her uncle.----then-------"
" All hell broke lose. Matter came up before village Panchayat. The punishment for Onkar was to blacken his face,make him sit on a donkey and take him around the village in a procession." I brought out.
"Yea, it was bad. We were small kids, then. We too shouted slogans against Onkar, as told by village elders." Kanwal substantiated.
" Remember that funny slogan-----"JISNE BURI NAZAR 'BEHNO' PE DAALA; USKA MOONH HOGA JIYON KAALA ( Anyone who had evil designs on village damsels, his face will be blackened like this)-------All of us were shouting such like slogans----we were in 3rd or 4th standard then before I left the village to study at Jalandhar." I further added.
" And why do you forget your own case? You were attracted to that girl Rupinder. You were a commissioned officer, then. It was in early 70s. I was a science teacher in the school. I used to be the courier for exchange of letters between you and her. You remember that----or forgotten" now Kanwal was getting personal.
" Oh forget it Kanwal. Why are you raking up dead stories? "I tried to side track the issue.
" This is your problem, uncle. Your was a confused generation-----just born after independence----the ' slave-blood ' ran in your veins. You were too meek and submissive to openly announce your friendship with the opposite sex" Aman was now attacking.
"No son, those were different times. Our social upbringing was different. we did not have these 'Valentine's' days-----ARRE KYA BOLTA HAI ------EVEN IN THE HINDI MOVIES IT WAS A TABOO TO SHOW A KISS SCENE----( Hey what do you say------EVEN--------). Remember , Kanwal when your elder sister had joined this boys school in the 9th class----how your uncles had violently objected " I was trying to explain the difference.
"Are, Rajwinder, forget my sister's case------- that was in the mid sixties. Remember, your own younger sister, Damyanti, whom you got her admission in Post graduation in Kanya Maha Vidyalya (KMV) Jalandher---It was in the 70's ---your family was almost thrown out by your community. Then, as a Captain you took the stand and bullied your way through. I remember you had fought with your uncles ----you threatened them of dire consequences----I remember you were prepared to shoot those who talked ill of your family----later, everyone forgot and Damayanti did very well in her post graduation. where she is now?" " Kanwal brought in another incident.
"Oh, she is fine . " I just accepted his version, though it was not entirely true.
" Don't tell me things used to be so bad----were your people so primitive?" It was Anita's turn to jeer us.
" No, No Anita, social structure changes with every generation. We did not have exposure like you. We did not have Mobiles---we did not have TVs------co-education was also very rare----Girls and boys hardly met so openly. It was not a bad society at all. Its values and ethos suited those times. Similarly I reckon, the atmosphere of SOCIAL GLASNOST AND SOCIAL PERESTROIKA suits your generation. This is what we call social GROWTH and development. Maybe the society of tomorrow might laugh at you and the institution of marriage----they might call MARRIAGE as SOCIAL SLAVERY of FEMALE GENDER. But your generation might still be getting into this bondage----while, for my generation, it was a sacred relationship.There was NO OPEN FLIRTING ONCE YOU WERE MARRIED. But in your time, you might accept OPEN FLIRTING OUTSIDE THE MARRIAGE" I got the opportunity to snub the young duo.
" Open Flirting Outside the Marriage? Yea, Rajwinder, you said it. To the modern youth, marriage is no more a sacred institution---It is a matter of convenient relationship as long as it could last. There are NO 'LAXMAN REKHAS' in the modern marriages which can not be crossed. " My friend Kanwal further elaborated.
"Dad, the point is that each generation sees things through its own prism and as such there can not be any meeting ground" Anita lashed out at us.
"I would like to disagree. There is always a start point from where you take off. Your and my PRISMS are same but our eyes have different 'lenses'. Anyway, let us note that changes are the symptoms of growth and growth is a continuous phenomenon. Anything which stops growing it dies down. Therefore, change is must. But can the change be anticipated or it happens automatically? I reckon, it is a self- activating phenomenon. You can not stop or control it but you can visualise the direction of change" I pointed out.
"So, what is change from you to us" Aman asked in an arrogant tone.
"Son, the difference is what my friend Rajwinder had experienced when he met you first time. In our times, if you had come and announced that you were the friend of Anita, You would have been lynched to death --probably even Anita would have suffered the same fate. " My friend Kanwal said in a very offensive tone.
I could see my friend was getting uncomfortable. I decided it was time to call of this conversation. I asked Kanwal to join me for dinner on April 13, 2010 ---the BAISAKHI DAY. I took his leave and was surprised at the sudden change of behaviour of Kanwal Sood. I wondered if he had accepted his daughter's friendship with Aman as some kind of compulsive adjustment or it was a total change in the attitude of village people's life. I had an uncanny feeling that he was slowly adjusting to this new environments to ensure peace in the family.
This is the new wave of Change hitting across Punjab' and Haryana villages. Inter caste love marriages are quiet common. The increased incidents of 'honour killing' in Punjab and Haryana bear testimony to this sweeping change taking place in the social climate of villages. Movies, TV and modern institute of education are changing the social landscape of the country side. The change is upon them. The judiciary, government and administration must ensure to make this change peaceful and harmonious. One thing is certain---CHANGE WOULD COME---NO ONE CAN STOP IT. Therefore do not cry for old social system which is being sent packing to the dustbin of history. Embrace the change lest you are 'future shocked' like me.
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