(Published in the Portraits 2002, the SRCH Yearbook)“Once we belong to a world that makes it’s living from wisdom, there is no reason for more wars. The future resides in University Campuses rather than in military camps. The generations to come are entitled to divorcing themselves from the past and building a new future of understanding and solidarity” – Simone Peres.
It has always been so. It is meant to be so. After the beatniks, the hippies in Haight-Ashbury, on the streets of San Francisco, with flowers in their hair. The fire of the anti-Vietnam War protests with its sparks in the University of Berkley. Four thousand doing the love march in the sea of mud at the festival for love, peace and music they called Woodstock. The revolution in Indonesia. The university students shot by the army in Bangladesh. Even the kurta and jeans clad students of JNU and DSE with red flags in their rooms and copies of the Communist Manifesto till 1991 brought the fall of the USSR and George Bush Sr.’s speech on ‘the failed coo of communism’.
They have always believed that the world could be a better place, and
they have always fought for that belief. They had a cause. They is no dearth
of causes today. Yet there are no ballads to Sacco and Vanzetta –
“Against us is the law with its immensity and strength and power,
Police know how to make a man a guilty or an innocent.
Against us is the racial hatred.
With me I have my love, my innocence, the workers named the poor.
For all of this I’m safe and strong and hope is mine
Rebellion, revolution don’t need dollars, they need this instead…
Only silence is shame.”
Yet we dwell in this silence. Imagination sacrificed, we chose not only to overlook the murky waters around us, but also to dive into its depths and cover ourselves with the mud and choke in it. We chose not to fight the system, but become a part of it.
One would think Delhi University would be the focal point of rebellion. That we would not have opted to disillusion ourselves and give up youthful ideology. Not today’s University student.
I drive into college in my silver Santro, attend a few classes and discuss
tomorrow’s Micro-Economics paper over a plate of spring rolls in the canteen.
I’m hep. Wrong again!
‘He’s so unhep, when you say Dylan, he thinks you’re talking of Dylan Thomas. Whoever he was.’
Whoever he was, I echo. I’m content limiting my literary knowledge to Reading Comprehension Tests in Simulation CATs with a ‘Do Not Disturb. Taking Test’ hung outside the door. What good is music unless I can dance to it?
The movie is over. Wake up, little Suzy. Take a little time off for self-introspection. Is where you’re headed really where you want to be after you’ve smoked your life away. Before you shrug your shoulders and say ‘ours not to reason why’, stop! Stop and think it over. Take a look in the mirror and make that change. When you look back at your college life and the subsequent years let’s hope you can even ask ‘Was it really worth it?’ and not ‘What was it?’ Let’s hope you can rest in peace. At the rate you’re going, you won’t.