No Cherry for Old Men

Ere I was old?—Ah, woeful ere,   
Which tells me, Youth’s no longer here!   
O Youth! for years so many and sweet,     
’Tis known that thou and I were one,   
I’ll think it but a fond conceit—   
It cannot be, that thou art gone!

Youth and Age , ST Coleridge (You might be confused with his name. Especially for proactive grandfathers and grand-uncles, ST does not stand for scheduled tribe as it does in our recent street politics. The name’s Samuel Taylor Coleridge.)

We live in a conservative society and as a part of the deal we are supposed to respect the elders. A person, who doesn’t, is considered to be indiscipline and called a son-of-a-bitch. If we go by this logic, we are not different from the Japanese people, who believe in the wisdom: ‘The nail that sticks out is hammered down’. However, the joke will be on us if we dare to compare ourselves to the Japs.

Apparently, conformity and a false sense of decorum do not measure the level of growth of a society. Listening to the elder, then, is a matter of choice and preferably avoidable if we belong to a fuckedup town like ours.

It is human nature to be in awe of successful people—even more inspiring, if they have lived longer enough than the average that they can offer us a lesson or two about life and others. Unfortunately, in our town, we have everything that ought not to be, while we have nothing that desperately ought to be.

Old people out here, while many are condemned to a life of ennui; others have no sense of morality, for example, as we can see from the institutionalisation of corruption and violence; and a few of them, they are stuck in their 18th-century mentality with their ‘preaching-of-the-pop’ craps on both personal and political spaces.

‘The old are apt to mistake age for experience, and to imagine they are privileged to give good advice’, Norman Macdonald wrote in Maxims and Moral Reflections and he added, ‘Though they may have lived only to afford bad example.’

In another word, we don’t have to listen to the old people; rather we should just understand them. We should also understand that they might afford only bad example as evident in our town from old farts who would boast about fighting for human rights here or being a leader of civil society organisation there.

Are only the old people blameworthy? In times of tragedy, everybody has their share of shits and in our case we have a couple of examples that show how everybody is into the shithole together and all of us are immersed waist-deep in the scum.

The first of these is apparent from the militants fighting for the right of a nation to self-determination. These militants are usually referred to as ‘naharol’, or literally, ‘youth’. Perhaps the name is derived from the members and supporters, who were a part of political resistance in the initial days of revolutionary movement in the Sixties and Seventies. However, today, the movement has become a sort of small-scale industry—read demand letters, grenade gifts and blank fires—and so is its dynamics.

In this scenario, the old and the young share a commonality; quite a relief for the old it is. If we change our position of view, we can also hear other old folk whining about student organisations and Meira Paibi running the government—proving us how age does not matter in creating a clean mess out of our collective life.  

On the other side of the wall, we have the youth clubs in each locality that play a crucial role in the functioning of a leikai/locality. In my neighbourhood, there are nearly half a dozen of such clubs, which include amongst others, the Lainingthou Khamlangba Youth Club, Sagolband Young Pioneers’ Organisation and the Sagolband Youth Development Association. See the ‘youth’ and ‘young’ in all the names.

In these clubs, the general secretaries and treasurers are not necessarily young people per se; nevertheless we can see the implications. Young people simply cannot pass the buck to the old. But where is the root of all these problems?

The old farts are more concerned about discipline and decorum that they have forgotten how the decadence at the societal level has been such a blow. If they had taken some initiative they would have enjoy some respect but out of their sheer laziness and uninspiring lives, we have only managed to separate them from cows and sparrows and nothing much.

On hindsight we cannot entirely blame them. They grew up in an idyllic time; they can simply do a postgraduate course and get the top government jobs, listen to Pahari and Kishore Kumar who sang in the same tune and scale, and in their youthful days a man would innocently indulge in dates at ‘leikol’ or simply kidnap a girl if he wants to marry her.

Now broadly the old people can also be separated into three types: the elected representatives and the aspirants, the leaders of civil society organisations and the humdrum-olds. Who is the most reliable—nope, the question should be: who is the worst of these types?

There is no prize for the correct answer but for impartiality, regardless of the types, we can group them under a umbrella when we are talking about their sheer hopelessness and Macdonaldian bad example. All of them should be left on their own, ideally, but as some of them are still calling the shots, we cannot ignore them completely.

Age is admired under two conditions: in a place where people enjoy a marked spiritual development and in a society where there is peace and justice and people have consciences. In our case, both of them are absent—it is sad but true. The bottom line is that, in the name of humanity, they should be taken care of. They have lived long enough to see the world but in no case we should listen to their craps.



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