TODAY -

Word to the stupid

By Debanish Achom *

Everybody has sucked up to their elders in some point of time. By elders here I'm mean those who are in late 20s or early 30s. In no way I'm coining the definition of elders to parents or their equivalents. I've often encountered young people trying to impress their so-called elders in weird and outright strange ways, and I think most will agree to this. I'm talking about our small, tight community that intermingles within for several purposes, from helping one another with matters such as marriage to how to pop open a beer bottle or how to add the right amount of morok in a dish. It's advice I'm coming to.

Advice is like smoking. You savour the advice and throw it away far into the gutter once it's completely burnt to the filter. Sometimes you simply throw away the cigarette because it got wet in the rain or you don't want to smoke at all. So it happens with advice too. Some take it. Some don't. Many wriggle their tails in a pretentious way just to hear it. Like how young people are wired to do in our community.

What people don't see is that these kids don't need any direction from elders, who themselves are groping for a hook in their life. It's quite possible that the need for a college-going kid to sit by an elder and hear anything that comes out from the big man's mouth, even if it doesn't make sense, may have been thrust upon unfairly. So who is at fault?

A way to understand this weird phenomenon is to jump right into a crowd of our community while having a good time. Most youngsters will unquestionably glide towards some self-proclaimed elder to hear sentences that range from having sex to completing engineering, with a majority of stories consisting of comparing what the oldies did in their time and drumming down the wide-eye kids. I don't understand why it is so important to let others know what you did in your time. You will be better off by not comparing yourself with young people who are just fresh into college or have stepped out of school five minutes ago.

I want to make it clear that I'm not drawing blind straws since you may want to ask I'm not giving any concrete example to illustrate my point. But I can't do it because it's too embarrassing to reveal what most elders of our community do. Have you ever tried whooping down Old Monk with them? If you have, then you may have a fair idea of what I'm talking about. Now don't ask me what Old Monk is. But it's definitely not a Tibetan scholar or some Chinese sage.

The problem is we are too occupied with giving and receiving undue and unearned respect. In this age of information, youths have become more aware and smarter. Let them have their way. Give them the freedom to think and voice out even in strange ways. I have often seen that people don't allow their juniors to go above the former's worldview because such achievement seemed to threaten the elders' sense of life. It's the group of pakhang aribas -- people stuck back in time -- who muddle up a perfectly reasonable existence into some confusing mass of ego fights here and there, taking down all young people of our community along with their imaginary sinking ship.

But all is not lost, remember that. Youths will continue to evolve and amaze us. Our job is to sit at the corner and watch them grow, make mistakes and finally learn. We shouldn't tie a rope to their thinking. Now it makes sense to say that it's not the wise who needs the word. The word to the wise is unnecessary. It's the stupid ones who need it, who unfortunately turned out to be the elders. I rest my case.




* Debanish Achom, a Bangalore based Journalist working with a big news media company, writes regularly to e-pao.net . The writer can be contacted at debanish9a(at)gmail(dot)com.
This article was webcasted on September 17th, 2009.


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