There is something dramatic, vulnerable, alluring, cathartic—all at once—about looking back at eighteenhood. It would differ, I presume, depending on one’s present stage of life. As an off-hand experiment, I chatted with people in different ‘decades’ about how they remember Year 18. Their answers got more interesting with every ten years: one who’d just crossed 18 thought it made her feel ‘cooler’, and made her believe she “ought to exhibit a sense of responsibility”. The one in his 20s thought he felt more capable of making his own decisions. The educational professional in his 30s turned dramatic, mirroring my own experience: “It was a watershed year, like being stripped bare of all that you had built for so many years, and starting from scratch.” The one in her 40s got misty as she spoke of her great innocence, in a small town, with no clue of the “real world” and what she wanted to be. The linguist in her 50s got ticklish: “I was silly and childlike, I felt nice and proper 18 when I was 24.” I skipped a decade and went for the seventysomething grandmother who told me to call back after two hours so she could make notes on it. Then she read out her two-page essay that spoke of her longing for a guitar at 18 and long cycle rides around central Delhi. It was a year of intellectual churn.
That’s nostalgia for lost times. What of the 18-year-olds who live amongst us? We wanted to hear their version, the one they’re living, and we picked out 18 symbols of hope across India, in places that have been in the news for one kind of conflict or the other, to dip into their buzzing world. To get to know the new battles they face. Are they making the best of a better education? Pulkit Madan of Lucknow believes “there may be more options to study, but it’s all about money-making and forced learning”. How far have modern tools helped? Vijitha K.R. in Attapady is busy making youngsters like herself conscious of the ill-effects of modern gadgets. More money at their disposal? Anjum Khan from Azamgarh is only too aware that “money can put you on the wrong track”. These are thoughts from 18-year-olds who have much to prove, to themselves and to the generations before them. Will they make it? Read on.
Kudos on turning 18 and for the anniversary special (Nov 4). The interviews were specially enlightening (18 Yellow Flowers in a Bouquet). It would be interesting to do a comparative piece on, say, 18-year-olds today and 18 years ago. I wonder whether they had the same priorities.
Alam Parmar, Belgaum
Congrats on turning an adult. The esoteric message of the double digit 18, the first multiple of the single digit of greatest value, nine, is the very basis of the unresolved mystery of creation. A man has nine gates (ears, nose, mouth etc) while a woman has one more, 10. During the act of ‘creation’ (sexual union), the ‘undifferentiated’ human figure’s gates number 18. Upon this act and numbers are all religious beliefs, literatures, actions etc born, spread, sustained, even terrorised. Fundamentalists and fanatics of all religions must be suitably re-educated on god and his kingdom.
V.N. Ramaswamy, Hyderabad
The over romanticisation of the young, is going to give rise to another serious media inspired bias - against the old.
POP JOURNALISM AT ITS WORST !
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