Old order must changeth…
November 27, 2006
Dear Little one,
I am afraid that I am turning an old hag!! A visit to your Dadi’s place and this stark reality struck me hard. Can you imagine how out of place the new addition to the old home looked like? I was not comfortable with it at all. And your Taya Ji wanted to have so many new additions. When I asked your Papa the need (?)for a small porch to be added, he said— with a twinkle in his eyes, “So that you could sit there on a chair reading your favourite books!” “Do you think I would ever sit in the sun, on a chair, sipping a cup of tea and reading a novel?” I retorted back, a little angry or hurt perhaps. What exactly made me angry; I was not able to put my fingers on? Was it the feeling of loss at not having ever sat on a chair outside in the open or there was some other reason. I imagined myself sitting on a chair in the open courtyard. No, I don’t think I would be able to do that. Old habits die hard. And one of the old habits that I still cherish is to keep my head covered as soon as I enter the village boundaries and another is not to sit on a chair out in the open! Now something very interesting is that no one has ever stopped me from sitting on the chair but I would prefer to sit on anything else other than a chair!Today when your Taya ji and I stood together directing the masons, he motioned me to sit on the chair but I preferred to sit on a log of wood lying nearby. I wondered why don’t I change. Would I be ever comfortable sitting, on a chair, in the porch as your papa was jokingly making fun of?
My eyes were suddenly filled with tears and I thought of your Dada ji and the love that he had for me. He would be sitting on the chair in the courtyard and I would sit on the projected structure that circled the entire house and we would talk and talk. It would be surprising for the old women of the village as a daughter-in-law sitting and talking like that was not much common those days. More so because of the very strict and stiff impression that he carried. I remember that no one, I repeat no one, would ever cross through our courtyard when he would be home. But now things have changed. As no one lives at home, the courtyard has changed into a common passage. While I stood there talking with your Taya ji, so many new generation daughters-in-law of the village walked past, customary touching our feet but lacking the reverence that goes with the action!I asked your Dadi about the one who has been recently added to the tribe and was really amused when your Dadi said, “for whole of the day she is sitting cross-legged on a chair and keeps on listening to songs!” Perhaps I was able to detect some admiration in her voice for her own daughter-in-law or was it just my wishful thinking.The times have really changed. The new generation has less regard for the old values and tradition. They speak so loudly and without any inhibition that must be shown in presence of elders, and give their opinion on all matters whether asked for or not. I suddenly started feeling very old, not only in age but in my thinking as well. What has happened to the new generation? The old values and practices were on the verge of extinction! The old village well lies neglected as no on goes to fetch water from there, though in earlier times the first thing in the morning was to go, carrying a pitcher, to the village well. I remember that we were supposed to bring fresh water early in the morning but these days everyone stress water from the tap as the water supply is once in two days. But the notion about fresh water has become stale these days. The village “Bowri” cries for cleaning up but who bothers for the poor soul who supplied the whole village with sweet and cool water when there was no government water supply to boast of? Even I have not seen the “Bowri” for a long time! How selfish on our part indeed. Ah, that reminds me that the earthen pitchers have been replaced by plastic ones and the colours of these plastic pitchers make my thirst done away with. I feel no longer thirsty as the fluorescent green plastic pitcher offends me no less than the concrete structure added to the old home. “But they are so durable and convenient” your Dadi emphasized. I thought of the Workshops and Seminars that take place in our own NIT Hamirpur about the ill effects of using Plastic in everyday life and wondered whom did they really enlighten? The participants who were already aware of the ill effects of plastic got a certificate for attending the workshop and the organizers for having organized it, to the convenience of both. If knowledge could not be disseminated to the grass root level, was it of any use? I thought of telling them about the harms that it results in but would they listen to me? The intricate designs that adorned the cow-dung smeared floors have given way t cold and indifferent cement. The gas stove occupies a place of pride in all the kitchens of the village. The new generation women feel handicapped if they don’t have gas stoves in the kitchen! Luckily the “chullah” is still there and you can imagine how well we felt sitting there—when I cooked food and your Papa put wood in the “Chullah”! And a very intereting thing that I noticed was that I felt hungry after such a long time. I have really been worried on account of low appetite that I feel these days but the food cooked on “Chullah” made me crave for it! I prepared to serve dinner when it was only 6-30 PM! But all was silent outside and feel like midnight to me. I asked your Dadi about what people do these days once they are inside their homes. In earlier days some would busy themselves in spinning wool to make a warm blanket of home-spun wool. Or would just sit around the fire telling stories from the past! “But they have TVs to keep them busy”, could I detect a lament in her voice about the hard times that they had gone through! The village has even cable connection now and I literally laughed aloud thinking of the new empowerment that the women were experiencing a la Ekta Kapoor’s way! So much in the name of development! We really have come a long way.I am back home and am an enlightened person. Our village has really developed a lot! I would writ about some more facets of development in another post.I could never appreciate the wisdom held in the lines more as I appreciate and understand them today:
“The old order changeth, giving place to new”