As youngsters of about ten or eleven years, there were many avid collectors of postcards in my school. Some showed off the treasure of Madhuri Dixit’s postcards while others of Salman Khan or Akshay Kumar. My hostel had two invisible poles for everything. One pole, fans of Madhuri Dixit, the other, fans of Sri Devi; fans of Amir Khan versus fans of Shahrukh Khan; fans of Sachin Tendulkar versus fans of Saurav Ganguly; fans of English teacher versus fans of Maths teacher; the list was endless. Nobody cared about those who did not fall into the extremes. Most of the boarders stood for somebody they liked, no matter how stupid it might seem today.
It was mostly at night or on Sundays while watching programmes on hostel warden’s television that a silly statement made by one group against the cynosure of other group’s eye created heated argumentative sessions. The wise ones let us be. Some smirked. They preferred not to indulge in any task that went against their principle of being studious or ‘of some standard’ all the time.
If a Sri Devi fan commented negatively against Madhuri, some fan of Madhuri used to start with point wise negative dissection of Sri Devi and the group joined. The result often was elongation and deviation from the main topic and led to a ‘katti’ or crossing of little finger with the opponent’s which meant swearing that they would not talk to each other. Most of time, the warring camps pacified with a smile within two days after ‘katti’or at the maximum, a week.
I am nostalgic all of a sudden. Life transforms so quickly.
One has everything at disposal today except time. I am sure even epic hero like Bhishma Pitamah would find the 21st century level of stress more piercing than the arrows he bore and lay upon. After fighting a hard battle during the day, the warriors at least had time to relax after sun set and have their wounds nursed. Today, demands are 24X7 and it’s scary to keep on running to remain in the same place which brings me to the rhetorical question who can afford to do so when prices of all essentials are sky rocketing and at an all time high resulting in even basic items not being taken for granted any longer!
‘Rotis’ /rice, onion and chilly- I had often observed rickshaw pullers and laborers, while crossing roads, having these for lunch. Now I shudder to think about their list of options. Call it the power of rich getting richer and the poor, poorer, I have a simple question to ask- what will become of the poor and their families in future if this trend continues? On the one hand, there are scams involving crores and crores of rupees being unearthed day after day; on the other, a vast section of the population does not even have two zeroes to manage the living.
Survival of the fittest, huh? Only a section of the society has taken a patent to fall under the ‘fittest’ category. The rest are to be ignored. Stock markets can go crazy and reach 21000 mark one year, thanks to some leading companies, and statistics go brouhaha over progress of India that they call the new India. Is a bullish stock market driven by few strong organizations the indicator of an average Indian’s standard? Like I said earlier, some wise ones choose to sit in their drawing rooms and smirk. They are of a high standard. This group knows the way up and manages well so assumes it has full right to be snobbish about it. It can argue that climbing greater heights is huge adrenaline stuff and not everyone has the will or stamina for it. The other group can continue to fight over silly things and pay the price for working hard but not smart or simply choose to accept its fate and not be chic enough to flourish.
Two extremes again. This time, ‘katti’ will lead to nowhere because the compartments are divided and each has been allocated a space within the social spectrum. It’s all about emphasis on perpetual zest or eternal rest. Somewhere in between falls the middle class that is neither poor nor affluent. Nobody will care about it. And why? Because it does not fall into extremes. This cluster has to go on with a smile struggling to maintain a decent present working towards an inflation proof home budget tomorrow. Only the intent of polarization has transformed. The spirit remains.