Sixty four isn’t a flattering age. Or maybe it is, with a tank of memories to fall back on. I can’t decide. Actually I can’t decide whether I should be optimistic or pessimistic about my age. But I certainly wish to be born again, in this age of communication and accessibility. I want to be back in a cradle, today!
When we were young, they was nothing called as education. People used to be called qualified if they completed their 2nd grade in school. You must be laughing. Yes, ridiculous it is. Perhaps that’s the reason I want to be born again, to leave the humiliating past behind.
I didn’t receive education at all. Who on earth wastes money by sending a girl to school? At least in our culture and community, wisdom was numbed by tradition; intelligence by superstition.
No one tried to usher a change, no one was interested in doing something better. We were slave to our age-old habits. All I know is how to write a bit of Hindi and to sign my name. Rest, I am miserably dependent on others. The other day I was in a bank alone. My son had sent me money. But I didn’t know how to withdraw the money from the bank. How would I? I don’t even know how to read and write. I felt so frustrated and helpless. There was nobody to help.
It was a Monday. Everyone other than my grey hair self was busy with stuff to do. The banking staff was sweating their heart out. There’s joy in watching the youth these days. So much in control, so much engaged, so much in power. They complain of the endless chaos in their lives. But from the hopeless space where I stand, that chaos feels beautiful. They are lucky.
After waiting for 40 minutes looking here and there, I was noticed by a peon. He helped me to withdraw money.
Children these days are so educated, even a 10-year-old knows how to browse the computer and chat with people. We didn’t have these privileges. Now that my grandson has free time he teaches me how to write English. Thankfully this generation isn’t as rigid as their ancestors. I wish there was an adult teaching scheme from government, so willing and aspiring individuals like us could admit ourselves and receive education. At least we would be equipped enough to do our own work. Our prime minister does great work. If only I could request him to do for me, what my childhood didn’t! To allow me swing in the cradle which isn’t chained by ignorance.
Story by Vimla Gupta
As told to Ritika Jain